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The Most Annoying Things People Say To Butcher The English Language

Updated on July 5, 2012

Written by Thomas Rimmer

I absolutely love the English language. In my opinion, it's the most beautiful language in our world today.

The problem is that many alleged native speakers of our beautiful language seem intent on completely butchering it, almost to the point where words and phrases that once made perfect sense, now either sound like a made up language from a fantasy novel, or give a completely different meaning than what is actually the intention of the speaker. It's unbelievable that people just don't seem to care about correct English anymore.

The obvious risk one takes in writing an article such as this is that the public may assume that one is professing one's own vast knowledge of the English language as some kind of a literary genius or English scholar. I can assure you all, before you start analysing this article for spelling mistakes and other grammatical inaccuracies, I'm not saying that I'm perfect when it comes to the English language. I make mistakes too. Quite a few, probably.

I'm not even really that pedantic when it comes to the English language. Apart from very occasionally informing people that it should be "whom" rather than "who" (yes, I hate myself for doing that too) and subtly rolling my eyes whenever I hear a person say "supposably", I'm actually fairly relaxed. However there are certain things that some people do to this wonderful language that really make me want to scream!

Obviously I'm only referring to people who speak English as their first language. If you speak another language as your first language and you can actually speak any English at all, I'm extremely impressed. Feel free to get as much of it wrong as you like. There is nothing sexier to me than a girl who doesn't speak English as her first language and can't quite get it right. But that's an article for another day.

Here are my top five in no particular order.

1. I couldn't care less

Although I said that these were in no particular order, this ridiculous phrase certainly deserves its position at the top of my list. Why? Because the phrase itself means the exact opposite of what the speaker is actually intending to communicate to their listener, and seeing as how the whole point of language is to communicate, it really is a worthless phrase indeed.

The intention behind this phrase is essentially to say "I don't care". However, what the speaker fails to realise is that by saying "I COULD care less", as opposed to the correct, non-moronic phrase "I COULDN'T care less", what they are actually saying is that they do care somewhat. Let's have a look at the example below.

INCORRECT

Girl 1: "Tina said she's not coming to the party tonight".

Girl 2. "So? I could care less" - (TRANSLATION: I do care a bit whether or not Tina comes to the party, and because I do care somewhat, then it's certainly possible that I could care less)

CORRECT

Girl 1: "Tina said she's not coming to the party tonight".

Girl 2: "So? I couldn't care less" - (TRANSLATION: I am sitting right at the bottom of the scale between caring and not caring, with not caring being the absolute lowest point on the scale. I can't move any further down. It is literally impossible for me to care any less than I do right now, therefore, I couldn't care less. Tina is a skank!)

I would rather hear you say, "I don't give a shit" than mangle what should be a pretty easy and self-explanatory phrase, and in that respect, I could care less (meaning that I do care).

2. Regardless

I don't care in what dictionary you say you've seen this, regardless is not a word. It's a fake, pointless, obnoxious non-word that some people accept because it's in the public. It's the Kim Kardashian of words.

The word you want to use is either regardless or irrespective. What you've done is taken two perfectly good, meaningful, usable words and squashed them together to create one completely ridiculous waste of space (again, the name Kim Kardashian comes to mind).

3. Youse

I googled this before I wrote it, because it's quite popular among the uneducated and unwashed in my country, New Zealand, but I wasn't sure if it was in use anywhere else. It turns out (rather regrettably) that it's quite common.

Also spelled as "yous" (apparently), this word is supposedly the plural of "you", as in "hey, what are youse guys up to?" Whenever I hear this atrocious slaughtering of our lovely language a part of me dies. Another part of me wants to grab the offending butcher of our mother tongue by the throat and yell, "it's YOU, numb nuts! 'You' doesn't have a plural!"

"yous(e)" sounds like "ewes", which are sheep. So unless you are truly concerned about what a flock of sheep are doing, don't ask, "what are ewes doing?" Only use youse (haha, use youse :-)) if you are trying to convince people that you're a moron. Believe me. It works.

4. I literally died!

Some people don't seem to understand the difference between literally and figuratively. This literally annoys me. And yes, I mean literally.

"He literally bit my head off", I heard a girl say to her friends on the bus one day. I turned to look at her almost expecting to see a decapitated corpse occupying the bus seat. As interesting as this would've been to encounter, her head was in fact still connected to her body. From what I could see there weren't even any scars to indicate that her head had ever been removed, bitten off or otherwise, at any point in time and then later reattached like some vapid, blonde Frankenstein's monster.

I felt like saying, "What are you talking about? He didn't LITERALLY bite your head off; he figuratively bit your head off! If he had literally bitten your head off, you would have no head and, therefore, no mouth with which to make your incredibly inane comments!"

I decided against saying any of this to her, as I figured she probably wouldn't have understood what I was talking about anyway. So I just sat there in the seat opposite cringing as I listened to her and her friends saying words like "supposably", "fustrated" and "anythink".

5. Like

What's wrong with like? I hear you ask. Well nothing usually. Not if it's used as it's intended. Two examples where I feel it appropriate to use "like", are to express agreement or enjoyment ("I like that song"), or as a way to make a comparison ("he looks like a walrus"). The problem I have is when it pops up in the most redundant places.

This trend seems to be very popular among teenage girls. For example, "OMG, that guy's, like, so totally hot!" Although teenage girls seem to use this quite frequently, it does (rather disturbingly) seem to have made its way into the vocabulary of other members of society.

I was discussing a pain in my shoulder with someone recently. Well, I say recently. It was probably about a year ago now. I often use recently to describe events that aren't particularly recent. Write your own article about it if you have a problem with me doing it. Anyway, I digress. I told him what I thought it was and he told me that I was wrong and what he believed to be the problem. Being that this guy was an utter tool, I failed to see why I should trust his medical knowledge.

"My mum is, like, a nurse" he said.

I couldn't resist what came out of my mouth next.

"So she's not actually a nurse?" I asked annoyingly.

"What do you mean?" he asked, looking more confused than I'd ever seen him look before.

"Well you said that she was LIKE a nurse, not that she is a nurse. So what is she, a vet?" I said.

He wasn't impressed with me and he hasn't talked to me since. Mission accomplished.

Final remarks

Well I hope youse guys, like, enjoyed my article. My point is to, like, entertain and educate, not to offend. But regardless of this, if youse are offended then I could care less because youse should get a sense of humour. It literally blows my mind how some people, like, can't see the humour in anythink.

Ouch, that was a painful paragraph to write! It FIGURATIVELY killed me!

Thanks for reading.

Tom :-)

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    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 4 years ago from the U.K.

      I agree with a lot of this, Thomas, and as a Brit, it's interesting to learn that the same words and phrases are irritating people right across the other side of the world. 'Like' in particular is annoying, as in "I was like 'Who are you?'" when what they mean is "I said, 'Who are you?" "Couldn't care less" is what we say in the UK but in the US they say "could care less" which, as you say, means the opposite. The use of literally can be hilarious, though. I heard a guy say, "I was literally knackered." I didn't check it out, though :)

    • littlemarkiesmom profile image

      littlemarkiesmom 4 years ago from The hot, humid South

      Ha! I love it! I literally (not figuratively) laughed through the entire article! I live in the South (United States), where I am constantly witnessing the English language being slaughtered. I cringe when I hear people talk sometimes and I want to say, "Hey, are you trying to sound like a total uneducated idiot? Because it's working." However, I must admit that I am guilty of throwing "like" into a sentence here and there. I am not a teenage girl though and I don't think I've ever started any sentence with "OMG."

      Great hub! :)

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Entertaining and very true. Like is my pet hate - except where it's used at the end of a sentence by someone from the west country (UK).

    • uNicQue profile image

      Nicole Quaste 4 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      As a senior English language and literature major in college, I completely share your frustration. It takes a lot for me not to correct people constantly on their serious misuse of the English language. Funny hub! :) Voted up.

    • TommyGun007 profile image
      Author

      TommyGun007 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks everyone, for stopping by :-)

      @Mazzy Bolero I think the funniest use of "literally" I've heard was when someone said "It's literally raining cats and dogs out there!" I kind of wisedh he was right. It would've been interesting to see, if nothing else.

      @littlemarkiesmom Unfortunately even I have, on the odd occasion, dropped a "like" where it's not supposed to be. It's the same as speaking to someone with a different accent, sometimes you may find yourself subconsciously imitating them. I'll forgive you :-)

      @Nettlemere Sorry, forgot about the West Country. I'll let you keep that "like" :-)

      @uNicQue You're right. The biggest argument I hear for misuse of the language is that languages evolve. Of course this is true (if it weren't we'd all be writing like Geoffrey Chaucer), but when what you're saying starts to have the opposite meaning to what you are intending to say, then we have a problem!

      Tom :-)

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Should have mentioned earlier there is an (IMO) hilarious series of books called Colemanballs in the UK which started with a Sport's commentator called David Coleman's verbal gaffs. They include a great selection of 'literallys' such as "The audience are literally electrified and glued to their seats." Ted Lowe, BBC commentator and "It sounds like Lenin will literally be cheering in his grave." BBC presenter Justin Webb

    • TommyGun007 profile image
      Author

      TommyGun007 4 years ago from New Zealand

      I have this great image of the event organiser with a hot glue gun, some wires and a car battery :-)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I am sort of in the middle on this. I hate to see the English language slaughtered too, but there are some things such as whom that I think should be changed. The only way I have ever liked that is in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by the Bee Gees. lol

    • TommyGun007 profile image
      Author

      TommyGun007 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for your comment, Jackie :-)

      It does have a nicer ring to it than "Who the Bell Tolls For" haha :-)

      I will very rarely correct a person who uses "who" as opposed to "whom" in a full sentence. For example, if someone said, "who did you speak to?" I'm not going to correct them and say, "uh-uh. It's with whom did you speak". Certainly not in speaking. I am a lot more picky about this in people's writing though. I will (occasionally, without thinking about it) Say "whom" to someone if they say something like "to who", "with who" etc. I hate it when people end a question with "who". I am trying to change my annoying habit though! Haha :-)

      Thanks for stopping by

      Tom :-)

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, and Interesting.

      I interpret "I could care less" as having an unspoken but implied "as though" -- "[As though] I could care less" meaning "I could not care less." I wonder if originally the phrase was, "Like I could care less."

      English would be much improved if 'you' had a plural form that looks and sounds different from the singular form. Why not 'youse'? I use 'you-all' because it works and is more socially acceptable. Like (meaning for instance), I might address several persons as a group with the question, "Do you-all want to order pizza?" to indicate that I am asking for consensus of the plural you.

    • TommyGun007 profile image
      Author

      TommyGun007 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for your comment B. Leekley :-)

      I have often heard people mention that interpretation of "I could care less", which would make sense if it were said differently, with a different emphasis. However, I have never heard it said any way other than the way one would say "I couldn't care less". This leads me to believe that people genuinely don't know that they're saying it incorrectly.

      "You all" sounds a lot better than "youse" to me. At least both "you" and "all" are actually words! Haha :-)

      Thanks!

      Tom :-)

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 4 years ago from the U.K.

      "Youse" is used a lot in Liverpool. It's dialectal. There used to be a singular and plural second person pronoun. Singular was 'thou' and plural was 'you'. I think 'thou' sounds better that 'you', softer, gentler, more personal and intimate. My Lancashire grandparents used to say 'thou' (when it's the subject of the sentence), 'thee' (when it's the object) and and thy (possessive adjective) although it actually sounded like 'tha and thi', e.g. "Tha can tek thi coat off and sit thi down."

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I think you might be taking speech a bit more literal than it is intended (the flat 'literal' is intended :).

      Someone saying 'literally bit my head of' obviously is talking metaphors, unless you'd believe the Hamlet poster kind of figure speaking his or her head more or less in the armpit. ;)

      It's always interesting to get to know people's views, 'pictures' of the language reality.

      I'd be grateful if you'd have a look at my hub on uses to trespass on the metaphor, in my opinion:

      https://hubpages.com/education/Carpe-Linguam

      I'm also literally curious about your mind on the use of the verb 'to succumb',

      http://teresapelka.hubpages.com/question/198226/th...

      :)

    • graceomalley profile image

      graceomalley 4 years ago

      I literally enjoyed this.

      Teenagers don't want to be right about language - part of the fun is breaking rules. Of course, you have to know the rules to get the fun out of breaking them, don't you? I'll have to mention that to my class. Maybe it will convince them to stay awake during grammar time.

      I personally find the teenageisms charming, though the charm wears thin once the person hits 20 or so, and is not just a charmingly inarticulate teen but an adult dunce.

    • profile image

      Goutami 4 years ago

      Funny article but not completely untrue. Being an Indian, I am actually surprised at the language used in some of the new English T.V. shows. British influence is still evident in India and I guess we have a long way to go in catching up with the changes in the language :)

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 4 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I am from Pittsburgh and one of my major pet peeves is the word Youse it makes Pittsburgh come across quite frequently as a city populated by idiots. I can assure you we are not. The assumption that Pennsylvania is a rural farmland has a lot to do with the acceptance of certain Pittsburgh (isms) that if from here you may think make us unique. "Wursh," is another hair-raiser accepted here as in I have to do my "wursh" today instead of wash or laundry. I love my city and always will but Freedom of Speech is one thing but freedom to speak the English language incorrectly is something entirely different. Guilty as charged in using "regardless" although I never say it but write it occasionally and the spell check gets me every time.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 4 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I had to come back and add on stating that if Youse pulls your trigger try Yinz as well another irritating Pittsburgh(ism.) A conversation I over heard recently while grocery shopping -

      Yinz coming for Christmas?

      Sure,Youse guys always throw the best parties! I kid you not.

    • Aaron Seitler profile image

      Aaron Seitler 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      Yes, I whole-heartedly agree with you

      -I'm a Mancunian and it seems almost everyone in Manchester "butchers the English Language" and so it's refreshing to hear someone, somewhere speak up about it.Also, my pet hates are "basically" and "them" instead of those.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      TommyGun007,

      Oh this was just too funny, maybe it shouldn't be, maybe it should be sad, but "regardless" I found it hilarious! Which brings me to a point... are people stupid? If you ever just take a moment to think about the word your using, you would realize that it makes no sense. I can safely say, I have never used that word and vomit in my mouth when I hear others do so. I love I "I could care less" usually comes in the form of a negative or aggressive response, someone is, you know, "giving it to you", but yet they imply that they actually do care! That's like stuttering in a debate... it only makes it harder to take you seriously. The last one I will remark on, as to not hog up your page or time is "youse", honestly, I thought that was just an old-school, slightly uneducated, lower income, redneck kind of word. I came from what I would refer to as a "simple class"... all of my dad's siblings speak this word; Hey what are youse doing for dinner tomorrow? Thank goodness, even in elementary school, this word never sounded right or made sense to me and I have never used it... but I did not realize it was a global mistake. This was a terrific hub and I hope there will be more to follow!

      Voted up and funny!

    • profile image

      Anon 3 years ago

      I find it funny that you lament the butchering of the English language and yet you repeatedly use the nonsensical phrase "different than". It is impossible to be 'different than', the term is 'different from'.

    • profile image

      LaurenMcG225 2 years ago

      "I could care less" isn't incorrect; it's sarcastic. People put the emphasis on "care" to emphasize the sarcasm. When saying "I couldn't care less," they typically place the emphasis on "couldn't" or "less" (but never on "care"). Likewise, "literally" in most dictionaries now has a second meaning of "figuratively." We may not like that, but that's the result of usage, and we've been adjusting definitions throughout time.

    • profile image

      HappyMonkey 23 months ago

      I agree very much with your observations of the butchering of the English language. However, I think the proper word that people intend, instead of "literally", could be, "Practically". This seems more synonymous (big word, ha ha) with their meaning, but I am American.

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