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Commonly Misused Words and Phrases That Will Make You Sound Unprofessional -How to Avoid Them!

Updated on December 26, 2017
Pam Morris profile image

Writing is my passion. I have an undying thirst and quest in the field of writing. Some eat, smoke, drink or use drugs when stressed, I writ

When you hear a person misuse words or phrases, do you assume that he or she is unintelligent or unprofessional? Whether you do or not, it’s a proven fact that words are powerful and they can leave a lasting impression, and memory about you. In fact, not knowing how to use words or phrases correctly is like walking into a meeting with dirty clothes and a messy hairdo.

It’s easy to fall into language traps and make yourself sound unprofessional. But you don’t have to embarrass yourself; you can strive for an excellent speech by being familiar with the most commonly accepted ways of saying certain words and phrases. This article will discuss some of the most common, everyday phrases that some people might not know they have been saying incorrectly.

Also, this article will discuss the ever-changing nature of standard terms and phrases plus the original pronunciation in everyday use. For some people, sounding unprofessional is an insurmountable problem and a constant source of frustration, and many of us get upset when we find out we have been misusing a word or phrase for most of our life.

There are words bandied about that are being misused - words like 'socialism,' words like 'communism,' words like 'fascism.' Jim Leach

However, you shouldn’t fret or get angry; this article will assist you in saying good riddance to all those wrong and rubbish words and phrases. Below is a list of common words or phrases that some people might be saying or using wrongly, some of which I wasn’t clear myself, I was using and writing incorrectly until I began making sure I was using and writing words and phrases correctly.

The first words, many have been saying wrong for a long time, even me, the way some say it wrong: “Chester drawers,” when the right way is, “Chest of drawers.” Despite how long you been misusing these words or how a staunch defender might try to defend how he or she misses it, you do not own drawers that belong to Chester. “Chest of drawers,” is a chest made out of drawers and that’s what prepares the right way of using a lot more sense.

Another word many misuses or say incorrectly, saying wrong: “Warshing Machine,” the correct way of saying it is “Washing Machine.” No one can place their clothes in a “Warshing Machine,” because it is something that just doesn’t exist. It is the wrong way of usage and whoever is saying it this way is adding an “r” where it doesn’t need to be and that “r” needs to be dropped.

The two most misused words in the entire English vocabulary are love and friendship. A true friend would die for you, so when you start trying to count them on one hand, you don't need any fingers. Larry Flynt

“Doing Good,” is words that some people sometimes say in an incorrect phrase. To put these words into the correct usage, if someone asks how are you doing and you want to make sure you are responding correctly, the correct way to reply: is “Doing well.” Some people even reply, “I’m Good,” this is an incorrect response as well an adverb is needed to reply correctly and that with the response, “Doing well.”

One of the most commonly misused phrase that many love to say is, “I Could Care Less.” This is a phrase that many uses to show how little they care about an issue that might occur, the correct usage is, “I Couldn’t Care Less.” When saying “I Could Care Less,” not only is it incorrect, you mean you not only care, but you are concerned enough that you are communicating the opposite of the phrase’s intention.

Another commonly misused phrase that many put into incorrect usage is “On Accident.” The correct usage is, “By Accident.” “By Accident” is when an accident happens and it was not something foresee coming, it is a surprise. When you’re trying to describe an incident that is a mistake do not say, “On Accident,” it is the incorrect usage that means that the event has already happened.

The word 'operatic' is often misused to mean over the top, where someone is over-emoting. And that does a terrible disservice because 'operatic' to me means a commitment and a belief to the emotion of the moment that is sincere. James Gray

merica English is a language that changes with everyday usage and is full of idioms. It’s full of words that many might not know they’ve been saying incorrectly. However, it’s easy to fall into language traps, especially if the people who are all around you misuse words and phrases. Some of the words and phrases in this article are commonly abused everyday words that have become “accepted” over time, and others are just plain wrong. These words and phrases will block a person from a dream job or be dissociated from the best of friend circles because nobody wants to hang around an unprofessional speaking individual.

Words are powerful that can leave a lasting impression on others. Therefore, you don’t want society to assume your intelligence or professionalism. If there are words or phrases that you may have been commonly hearing and have mispronounced them for most or all of your life, why not correct that often “accepted” over time mistake? Are those words or phrases in this article?

Also, maybe there are words or phrases you mispronounced that are not in this article. And perhaps you or someone you are around on a daily basis has been making these exact language rule mistakes? Allow this article to assist you in ending this misperception for good. However, if you are one who has managed to correct your language and walk over to professionalism, you should take the time to share your learning skills as to how to end this wrong perception and begin pronouncing words correctly. But if you need help pronouncing or using words, don't feel bad because you will be surprised how many words or phrases smart, intelligent people have been slightly misusing to make themselves sound dumb. Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comment area.

Don't Say & Do Say Words:

Don't say: flounder | Do say: founder

Comment: As verbs, both words have similar meanings with "flounder" meaning to make a lot of errors or to have trouble moving; however, to "founder" is to totally fail.

Don't say: leash | Do say: lease

Comment: Southern Americans are particularly liable to confuse these two distinct words, but the confusion occurs elsewhere. Look out for it.

Commonly Misused Words and Phrases that will Make You Sound Unprofessional & How to Avoid them!

Did you read any words or phrases in the article that you might have been using wrong and not know it?

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Commonly Misused Words- Grammar Song

The 51 most commonly misused words and phrases - do you get these wrong?

Misused words
Embarrassing Phrases Even Smart People Misuse
Misused Quotes
Adverse means detrimental and does not mean averse or disinclined. Correct: "There were adverse effects." / "I'm not averse to doing that."
Prostrate cancer It's an easy misspelling to make--just add an extra r and "prostate cancer" becomes "prostrate cancer," which suggests "a cancer of lying face-down on the ground." Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic websites include this misspelling.
Any time we are misused or used for a purpose other than what God intended us for, it's damaging. Joyce Meyer
Bemused means bewildered and does not mean amused. Correct: "The unnecessarily complex plot left me bemused." / "The silly comedy amused me."
First-come, first-serve This suggests that the first person to arrive has to serve all who follow. The actual phrase is "first-come, first-served," to indicate that the participants will be served in the order in which they arrive. Both Harvard and Yale got this one wrong.
Opposition is not necessarily enmity; it is merely misused and made an occasion for enmity. Sigmund Freud
Shrunk, sprung, stunk, and sunk are used in the past participle, not the past tense. Correct: "I've shrunk my shirt." / "I shrank my shirt."
Sneak peak A "peak" is a mountain top. A "peek" is a quick look. The correct expression is "sneak peek," meaning a secret or early look at something. This error appeared on Oxford University's site as well as that of the National Park Service.
How often misused words generate misleading thoughts. Herbert Spencer

Commonly Misused Words

© 2017 Pam Morris


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    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      18 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Useful pointers in this article. Improvement is an on-going process and this includes improving one's usage of the correct words and phrases. Thank you.

    • Pam Morris profile imageAUTHOR

      Pam Morris 

      23 months ago from Atlanta Georgia

      William, You are so welcome. Thank you for reading and your reply to my article, it is so appreciated.

    • williamcrawford profile image

      William Crawford 

      23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Pam I have met more than my share of "professionals" that need to read your article. This is a good one, thanks!

    • Pam Morris profile imageAUTHOR

      Pam Morris 

      2 years ago from Atlanta Georgia

      Hello, Mactavers,

      Thank you for sharing your pet peeve misuse which is good and well. I believe more people make this mistake overall and many have no intention of changing this misappropriation.

    • Pam Morris profile imageAUTHOR

      Pam Morris 

      2 years ago from Atlanta Georgia


      Thank you so much for taking the time to share how words were misused by your boyfriend, as I stated in the article it's easy to fall into language traps. It's also easy to “accepted” over time the language mistake after using for an extended period.

    • poppyr profile image


      2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      My ex-boyfriend used to say “excape” instead of “escape,” and “I could care less.” Drove me crazy.

      Another one people commonly say is “less” instead of fewer or “who” instead of “whom.” In fact, “whom” is now considered posh language! I always get funny looks (as if I’m being snobby or sarcastic) when I say “whom.” Haha.

    • mactavers profile image


      2 years ago

      My pet peeve misuse is good and well. Even professional sports casters say, "He played real good." Grrr.


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