25 Common Phrases You’re Probably Saying Wrong

The other day I tweeted that I spend way too much time Googling common phrases as I assume I am saying them incorrectly. A lot of you said the same. Well, here are 25 of the most common screwed up phrases.

It’s OK to feel stupid if you’ve been saying one of these wrong the last 20 years – I have too.

A person holding a trophy

1: Nip it in the butt vs. Nip it in the bud (correct)

Nipping something in the bud means that you’re putting an end to it before it has a chance to grow or start. Nipping something in the butt means you’re biting its behind.

2: I could care less vs. I couldn’t care less (correct)

Saying that you could care less about a topic implies that you do care about it at least a little. What you usually mean is that you don’t care about the topic at all, hence “I couldn’t care less”.

3: One in the same vs. One and the same (correct)

When you really sit and think about it, “one in the same” doesn’t mean anything at all. The correct phrase “one and the same” means that two things are the same.

4: You’ve got another thing coming vs. You’ve got another think coming (correct)

This is one of those phrases where the incorrect usage actually does make sense and has become its own phrase. But it’s still technically wrong. In fact, most people don’t even know the correct phrase unless they look it up (I sure didn’t). The correct version really only makes sense if you use the entire sentence “if that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.”

5: Each one worse than the next vs. Each one worse than the last (correct)

Unless you can foresee the future, “each one worse than the next” doesn’t make sense. The problem with this phrase is that it isn’t logical. For example, you can’t compare two bicycles until you’ve tested them both. So logically, you would compare the current bicycle to the last bike you tested.

6: On accident vs. By accident (correct)

Sometimes I feel very sorry for people attempting to learn English. With phrases like this, it must be awful. You can do something on purpose, but not on accident. Prepositions are a killer.

7: Statue of limitations vs. Statute of limitations (correct)

Whenever I think of these two phrases, I get reminded of one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever.

8. Case ‘in’ point vs case ‘and’ point (correct)

“Case in point” means, “Here’s an example of this point I’m trying to make.” The version with “and” makes them two different things, which isn’t helpful to your argument at all.

For the record, the plural is “cases in point.”

9: For all intensive purposes vs. For all intents and purposes (correct)

You may feel very strongly and intense about your purpose, but that doesn’t make the phrase correct. Another common incorrect use of the phrase is switching the words “for” and “with”. The correct phrase means that you are covering all possibilities and circumstances.

10: He did good vs. He did well (correct)

The phrases good and well get interchanged so much that some people think they are actually interchangeable words. They’re not. If you’re ever confused about which to use, here’s a tip: Use “well” as an adverb (words used to describe verbs) and “good” as an adjective (words used to describe nouns).

11: Extract revenge vs. Exact revenge (correct)

When you extract something, you’re taking it out of something else. When you exact onto something, you’re dishing it out. Therefore, extracting revenge on someone would mean you’re taking out that person’s revenge. Exacting revenge onto them means that you’re taking your revenge out on them.

12: Old timer’s disease vs. Alzheimer’s Disease (correct)

This one is just kind of silly. It’s really a mistake that we make when we’re younger. As we get older and actually learn about what Alzheimer’s Disease is, we have the sense to say the word correctly.

13: I’m giving you leadway vs. I’m giving you leeway (correct)

Leadway actually isn’t even a word. Leeway means extra space and freedom.

14: Aks vs. Ask (correct)

You don’t aks/axe for things. You ask for them. I’m not sure when the “s” and “k” got switched but it happens all the time when people talk.

15: What’s your guyses opinion? vs. What’s your opinion, guys? (correct)

I’ll leave this explanation to the Urban Dictionary:

completely and utterly useless phrase people up north use in the place of ya’ll. it means you guys, but they just have to be stupid and (besides not using the much simpler phrase ya’ll) add -es to the phrase “you guys”. As I have said many times with great wisdomosity, ya’ll is much simplier to say.

16: Expresso vs. Espresso (correct)

I’m sure those of you who work at coffee shops have had people order an expresso before. There’s no such drink. The drink you’re trying to order is an espresso.

17: Momento vs. Memento (correct)

Momento isn’t a word. A memento is a keepsake.

18: Irregardless vs. Regardless (correct)

Regardless means without regard. Throwing on “IR” to the beginning makes the word a double negative. I think we can all agree that “without without regard” doesn’t make sense.

19: Reese’s Peesees vs Reese’s Pieces (correct)

Gets me all the time.

20: Conversating vs. Conversing (correct)

Drop the “on” and add an “ng” and you have yourself a new verb right? Wrong. Conversating is an unofficial word that a lot of people use in place of the correct term, conversing.

21: Scotch free and Scott free vs. Scot free (correct)

I’ve seen so many explanations of the origins of the phrase “Scot free” that I really don’t know where it came from. But what I do know is that Scotch free and Scott free are incorrect.

22: I made a complete 360 degree change in my life vs. I made a complete 180 degree change in my life (correct)

People say they’ve made a complete 360 degree change in their life to imply that they’ve completely changed from the way they used to be. However, going 360 degrees means that you’ve returned to the exact same place you started. Which would mean you didn’t change at all. A 180 degree change would mean that you are the complete opposite which is what most people are trying to say.

23: Curl up in the feeble position vs. Curl up in the fetal position (correct)

Feeble means weak and frail. So in a way, curling up in a feeble position isn’t too far off. However, the actual fetal position that people are referring to is the curled up position that fetuses use while in the womb.

24: Phase vs. Faze (correct)

The word “phase” is usually used when talking about periods of time or stages. For instance, “Bob’s interest in the iPhone 5 was just a phase.” However, phase is often mistakenly used in place of the word faze, which means to disrupt. Here’s a paragraph from an article that shows the common mistake.

25: Hone in vs. Home in (correct)

The word hone means to sharpen or improve somehow. For example, you can hone your speaking skills. To home in on something means to get closer to it. “We’re homing in on a cure for cancer”.


A beer bottle on a dock


A beer bottle on a dock