5 Grammatically Incorrect Phrases You Shouldn’t Miss

If You Could Care Less About Grammar, Then at Least You Care a Little!

No matter who or where you are, good grammar can help you distinguish yourself as a credible expert. Maintain your authority as an expert by keeping readers amiably focused on your credibility and quality message. Watch out for these 5 grammatically incorrect phrases.

in regards to …

For many grammarians, the phrase “in regards to” is considered outstandingly bad English. It’s a mutated mash up of the gratuitously formal phrases “as regards” and “in regard to.” Lose the stuffy formality by trying adequate phrases like “regarding” or “about.” If you’re so inclined to be formal, then remember to drop the s: “in regard to.”

Exercise good judgment in regards to the information you present in your articles.
Exercise good judgment in regard to the information you present in your articles.

each other …

While the phrase “each other” does have a time and a place, it’s often mistakenly used in place of “one another.” What’s the difference? “Each other” is used when only two subjects are referenced. “One another” is used when more than two subjects are referenced.

What was the dog, the cat, and the man’s connection to each other?
What was the dog, the cat, and the man’s connection to one another?

What was the dog and man’s connection to one another?
What was the dog and man’s connection to each other?

for all intense of purposes … or for all intensive purposes …

Often incorrectly used instead of the phrase “for all intents and purposes,” neither of the above constructions make sense, nor are they grammatically correct. “For all intense of purposes” translates into “for every extreme condition of purposes.” Similarly, “for all intensive purposes” translates into “for every vigorous (or very thorough) condition of purposes.” When attempting to convey “for all practical purposes” or “in effect,” remember it’s the aim – the “intent and purpose.”

For all intense of purposes, we will refer to John Winkler as “Winkler” and John Harris as “Harris.”
For all intensive purposes, we will refer to John Winkler as “Winkler” and John Harris as “Harris.”
For all intents and purposes, we will refer to John Winkler as “Winkler” and John Harris as “Harris.”

equally as

The word “as” is used to convey the same degree or amount – that something is equal. Similarly, the word “equally” is used to show something is equal or uniform. Therefore “equally as” is redundant.

I can tell you’re equally as excited as I am to receive a fruitcake.
I can tell you’re as excited as I am to receive a fruitcake.

could care less …

When attempting to state that you “don’t care,” you may have tripped on the phrase “could care less” when you really meant you “couldn’t care less.” What’s the difference? If you “could care less,” then you do care to some extent. If you “couldn’t care less,” then you do not care at all.

What a waste of time and space! I could care less.
What a waste of time and space! I couldn’t care less.

What troubling phrases would you like to add to this list? Are there any phrases you would like our experts to explain? As always, share your comments, questions, and more in the section below – we’d love to hear from you!

Want more? Check out Grammatical Mistakes That Drive the Pros Nuts or browse our Grammar Tips category!

41 Comments »


1
Devjeet Singh writes:

Wow…thanks Penny…..I was like in the class room while reading your article. Good one…..appreciated your effort…:-)

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM

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2
davidinnotts writes:

Nice list! Can we have some more please, someone?

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM

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3
Patricia writes:

It’s amazing how easy it is to be sloppy in our writing.

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM

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4
Michael writes:

Simple mistakes can lead to a bad article. This short list is very helpful. I did checked the Grammar Tips category and find more interesting things worth learning.

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM

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5
Marge Gower writes:

I appreciate the list. I could have possibly used the most common, in my opinion:

What a waste of time and space! I could care less.
What a waste of time and space! I couldn’t care less.

and

What was the dog, the cat, and the man’s connection to each other?

What was the dog, the cat, and the man’s connection to one another?

Because of being spoken incorrectly, I would write them incorrectly. Thanks

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 10:19 AM

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6
CH James writes:

“I could care less” drives me nuts every time I hear it because it’s such a blatant contradiction. I am *so* glad you guys are singling this one out.

I have a friend who always said “I could care less,” instead of “I couldn’t care less.” It got to the point where I finally asked him (kindly of course!), “Think about what you just said – is that what you REALLY meant?” His response was a semi-shocked, “Oh… hmm… well, I guess not!”

He’d just always said it that way and never stopped to consider if his words matched his intent. It really is fascinating though, how a turn-of-phrase can supplant literal meaning just through habit and repetition.

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM

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7
Raven Cohan writes:

If the pros are “driven nuts,” by these things, perhaps they need a good vacation.

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 11:09 AM

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8
davidinnotts writes:

Being fair to writers, all of these are pretty subtle mistakes and may well only picked up in proofreading and editing. But it’s SOOO important to get them right before publication, because you want your article to positively influence everyone who reads it, including those who can ‘spot the slip’! Check your work carefully before submitting the article – and get friends to help.

“I could care less” is one of those phrases which probably began as irony, slipped into a clich and ended up frequently believed to be accurate. There’s a lot more like it about, but I just can’t recall them just now.

Unless I peek inside Bill Bryson’s “Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words”. This is a long-time favourite on this topic and should be on every writer’s desk, at hand. It comes from his years as a senior newspaper editor, and was written before his famous travel books. My copy is well-tattered, even though I reckon to be pretty good at English grammar!

Get a free look inside it on Amazon:

US-English here: http://www.amazon.com/Brysons-Dictionary-Troublesome-Words-Writers/dp/0767910435

or UK-English here:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Troublesome-Words-Bill-Bryson/dp/0141040394

Maybe (says he, a little slyly) Penny’s been using it for these grammatical helps. Penny?

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 11:32 AM

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davidinnotts writes:

I’ve just looked into the “Troublesome Words” book a little more.

My 1990s UK 2nd Edition has quite a lot more help than the 1984 original. Looking at the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature for the US and UK versions, the US version, as well as using US spelling and idiom, of course (‘period’ for ‘full stop’), has more US-directed rather than UK-sourced examples. It also has much less help. Most entries are either identical or nearly so, and those useful examples from the press and books on grammar are drawn from all over the world, but equally from the US and UK for the most part. However, the UK revision has much more detail and help in many key entries. This is despite both versions being copyrighted 2002.

So, if you can (and especially if you’re not in the USA) go for the UK edition if you can get it.

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9
Edmund writes:

Hi Penny, another excellent article but I have a small problem with ‘For all intents and purposes, we will refer to John Winkler as “Winkler” and John Harris as “Harris.”’

Why would someone use quite dated legal language when they could substitue a single one, henceforth (or hereinafter, if you insist) for five words? Even to just leave out altogether the phrase “To all intents and purposes” in this sentence, the remainder would make perfectly good sense.

I suggest that the phrase you have chosen is not a defining one. “To all intents and purposes the accused in the dock attempted to defraud his wife.” Again, “To all intents and purposes” is really redundant and is merely a figure of speech that pads out a sentence.

Language mutates, and I am as about old-fashioned as you can get but I do not see the utility of this phrase in normal English. As good writing requires brevity, I will now shut up!

Best wishes. Edmund

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 11:52 AM

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You’re right..it’s a dumb phrase to begin with. “For practical purposes” would probably do the trick in any instance. Still, people use it, and if they are going to use it they should get it right.

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10
davidinnotts writes:

True, Edmund – “to all intents and purposes” is a redundant phrase. But it’s used a lot, both in formal and casual speech, and in writing. So Penny’s spelt (or spelled) out how to get it right. Personally, I avoid it like the Plague (another clich!)

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 12:05 PM

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11
Lance Winslow writes:

One thing I have found is that “Dragon Naturally Speaking” makes the associations and correct grammar if you say the wrong thing it tends to make it correct anyway. In that case you can concentrate on your writing, wisdom, knowledge, observations, and experience without spending hours on the rules, which most of the readers don’t know or care about anyway, as they are too busy texting gibberish to even comprehend the correct grammar. See that point. Let’s allow the technology to fix things and allow the teachers to retire with their pensions, thanks to the powerful teacher’s unions which put pay over learning. Think.

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 2:35 PM

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Lance, you obviously assume that all writers can afford “Dragon..” and that all writers do not care to be bothered with things like grammar and spelling. You’re wrong on both counts. I consider my writing to be in the same category as my art. I enjoy crafting my words carefully, making sure that they accurately convey my meaning, and I do not mind spending the time it takes to present them in the most pleasing and grammatically correct way. (They tend to be the same thing.) That is what writing ( versus speaking into a microphone) is all about.

Also, this is a blog about writing. Your little rant about teachers added nothing to the discussion and was completely out of place.

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Edmund writes:

I agree with Kathleen, Lance. I think is was mile Borel that originally suggested that if you have an infinite number of monkeys and give them typewriters that one of them will produce a Shakespeare sonnet. With a powerful computer you can dispense with the monkeys but still most of what comes out will be rubbish. The English language is a beautiful thing capable of conveying just about any emotional or informational theme and you want to leave it to a computer with no regard even to having the knowledge to correct what the software has written. Next time you read the information manual of a Far Eastern product you will understand what I mean.

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12
Kristine writes:

I read through each of these carefully and I realized I might do a couple of them quite often. I will now take note. I have also forwarded the list to my friends who will appreciate the list.

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM

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13
Terence Starkey writes:

Here’s one that really annoys me and I read it often. For example: “I couldn’t of cared less”, instead of “I couldn’t have cared less.”

Comment provided April 11, 2013 at 6:33 PM

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14

Excellent tips on grammar. The above topics are something many writers get confused at. However, this does not look good in reading.

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 12:42 AM

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15
vijay mishra writes:

I am not expert in english language. So here is given grammar tips is very useful for me.

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 12:50 AM

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16
lubna writes:

Great list! thanks for sharing mate.

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 2:46 AM

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17
davidinnotts writes:

Yes, absolutely! I reckon it comes from them sounding the same. A moment’s thinking will show anyone the correct phrase, but a lot of people write as they speak and don’t check back for this kind of thing.

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 5:04 AM

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18

How a silly error changes the meaning of a sentence – that is called writing and sounding difference…thanx for the tips…..

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 6:14 AM

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19
MDWAHIDUR BAKUL writes:

nice, I am badly week in English, this kind of tips help me.

thanks

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 6:21 AM

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20

Good stuff as usual.

How about this one:

“irregardless” instead of “regardless”. Irregardless isn’t even a word, but a lot of people use it in both written and verbal communications.

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 8:04 AM

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21
Julie Edward writes:

This is really useful tips. The explanation for one another and each other is great. Thanks Penny.

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 8:38 AM

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22

It’s a real English grammar lesson. Thanks for it!

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 9:57 AM

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23

Thanks for the “each other, “one another” tip.. I really never got the distinction before, but now I know!

“Irregardless” is also one of my pet peeves. Also, a mashup I’ve encountered recently that makes me nuts is the word “leastways” (not even sure where that came from.)

Comment provided April 12, 2013 at 3:11 PM

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Edmund writes:

Leastways is slang meaning “at least”. There are two references in J R R Tolkeins Lord of The Rings. The English language is always evolving – Shakespeare invented many words that we use today and also many come from the King James’ versin of the bible and the Protestant prayer book. You may not like it but it has been accepted into English (leastwise in the US and Canada).

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davidinnotts writes:

I agree, Edmund. But there’s another side to this. General acceptance is key to a new coinage or invention becoming widespread. Without this, new language accretions fail and wither.

Most of Shakspeare’s (his spelling and the OED’s preference) invented words have been long consigned to oblivion. We still have several hundred of the best, of course. More popular are his felicitous turns of phrase.

The same is true for the King James Bible, except that we have to remember two things about that work. First, it’s translators and writers invented no new words, but were responsible for some memorable phrasing. Second, it’s a very conservative book in language (unlike Shakspeare writing at the same time) and drew most of its content from previous translations. Because it was compulsorily read aloud in Church of England services for over a century, its wonderful phrasing has become common currency and often clich.

One more point, for those who regard the King James Bible’s translation team’s work as somehow more than human: it was heavily revised in the 1660s, and it’s this revision that we all love!

To end, a question for you, Edmund. Do you have a concordance to The Lord of the Rings? Or how else can you know that ‘leastways’ occurs exactly twice in the whole work?

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24
MOHAN THULASINGAM writes:

Wonderful information.

Comment provided April 13, 2013 at 5:35 AM

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25
Vijay Khosla writes:

Penny,

Your contribution to my ‘English Learning’ can not be measured or weighed on a scale!

Keep up the good work.

Vijay

Comment provided April 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM

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26
Subodh Maheshwari writes:

Such tips will certainly help improve grammar and understand the use of confusing words.

Good and Timely Tips for everybody.

Comment provided April 15, 2013 at 12:39 AM

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27
Gracious Store writes:

What is the correct usage is it; “sometime” or sometimes

Comment provided April 15, 2013 at 10:36 PM

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28
Erin O'Reilly writes:

The prescriptive grammarian in me applauds writing articles that are easy for folks to understand on how to follow standardized grammar rules.

The linguist in me sighs in dismay that there are gatekeepers on how we apply grammar rules today.

Never in history (up until the time of Jane Austin or so) have we so systematically measured language usage by a set of ‘correct’ grammar rules…

Fun to think about (Oops, that’s a preposition!).

It was sometime ago when I learned about prepositions in 3rd grade.

Sometimes I still have nightmares about those early grammar lessons.

Comment provided April 16, 2013 at 10:39 PM

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29
Bruce Coffman writes:

I love this! I would love to see more like this as we all need reminders of some of the more subtle blunders we are likely to make from time to time.

Comment provided April 20, 2013 at 11:34 PM

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30
Randall Magwood writes:

I hate it when i outsource article writing to amateurs who don’t know proper grammar. You would think that the money that you’re spending on these people would pay off, but when reading the finished and paid articles… it makes me cringe that i spend alot of money for poor grammar articles.

Comment provided April 22, 2013 at 12:31 AM

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Edmund Sykes writes:

Yes, Randall, it’s like when I outsource translation into Spanish and they just run it through Google Translate and I have to check it over and correct it!

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davidinnotts writes:

Ah – this raises a big one that I’ve been holding off saying for a long time!

Fact: most creatives are poor on the spelling and grammar side – any language. Brilliance at communicating and ideas generation are completely different skills to language accuracy. Even Shakspere used pretty random spelling, like nearly everyone in his day.

So, Randall, if you outsource creative writing, you’d be lucky to get perfect grammar as well. What you need if you don’t have those skills are a proofreader and an editor (often the same person, though the editor is usually the expensive one!) In other words, you’ll have to outsource those skills, too! And you may not get them for peanuts from India or Hong Kong.

My suggestion is to do what you can yourself, and use a good English-language native as an editor to do the rest – when you find one, bribe him/her to stay with you! You can either ask the editor to make changes they think are best, then send you the result, or to suggest changes and leave you to decide. Either way, your editor will need to have a clear idea of your objectives for the article, and know who it is aimed at, just as you need yourself.

Edmund: it takes about five minutes to use Google Translate. I do it for every foreign-language order I get, as a courtesy. So if you ask for a translation and get this, refuse to pay until you get a satisfactory script! And, of course, never use the lazy so-and-so again.

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31
Shawn Gossman writes:

Great post! I find it funny to see the little slip ups that we tend to make. I try to read my articles a few times before I submit them while constantly looking for these little mistakes.

Comment provided April 23, 2013 at 11:35 AM

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32
Lauren Ruppert writes:

Very entertaining! I enjoyed the comments “equally as” much as the article…ha ha.

Comment provided May 6, 2013 at 6:46 PM

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33
Lisa writes:

It is always challenging to write an article without any grammatical error. Thank you very much for the list! I do learn something from your article.

Comment provided August 29, 2013 at 7:49 AM

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