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Popular Phrases That Are Not Grammatically Correct

Updated on November 26, 2012

Language and grammar

There are many popular phrases used in conversations, emails, and text messages that would never pass a computer's Grammar Check program. The phrases are slang and are likely popular because they provide quick ways for people to get points across to others during conversations. You the Man is just one example in the list below of popular phrases that are not grammatically correct.

Words, grammar, and meanings

Many conversations consist of sentences that are not grammatically correct.
Many conversations consist of sentences that are not grammatically correct. | Source

And Now To You...

Do You Use Phrases That Are Not Grammatically Correct?

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Popular phrases

You the man

You likely hear the phrase You the man often, though it is not grammatically correct for many reasons. Consider first that people often say it to both men and women. I have to take a step back and shake my head!

What does You the man mean? The phrase is the verbal equivalent of giving someone a pat on the back. To paraphrase, You done good offers similar sentiment and is not grammatically correct either. Somehow the sentence, You are a wonderful man and you have done a great job just does not get the same point across to people. That sentence is awkward and the sheer number of words means that it likely will not be the next trending catchphrase.


An exclamation point often follows the word Totally during conversations and within text messages and emails. Did you know that Totally passes as a complete sentence when spoken aloud? Now you do! The single word takes the place of longer messages, although it is not grammatically correct.

The message of Totally is, Hey, I completely agree with you or Yes, I feel exactly the same way. Imagine a person jumping up and down with an excited look on his or her face while saying one of the longer sentences that does follow grammar rules. Unfortunately the proper sentence structure takes away from the casual feel that the phrase Totally! conveys during a conversation. In addition, more words would totally make Totally! a less popular phrase.

A one word: Totally!

Are these people yelling the word Totally!?
Are these people yelling the word Totally!? | Source

What grammar rules? More fun phrases

What up

A popular way to say hello to someone is by using the phrase What up. Adding the word is to the middle of the sentence makes the grammar more precise yet the extra word also creates an awkward sentence. What is up sounds forced during conversations.

The phrase What up is meant to be casual. The teen who wears pants that are three sizes too big may not be a model for correct grammar but he certainly is famous for his cool way of gliding across a room while saying the phrase. The glide likely seems more important to him than whether his grammar is entirely correct outside of the classroom!

Way cool

The phrase Way cool conveys the speaker's approval for an object or an action. The object of focus is often trendy and has the approval of a large group.

Modifying the phrase from Way cool to That is lovely or I love that does not have the same modern touch or excited tone as the original phrase that is not grammatically correct. The trendiness of the phrase itself is lost in translation when modified to fit the rules of grammar. Literally.

Grammar rules of the English language

While people of all ages may use phrases that do not meet grammatical rules of the English language, these phrases are likely to continue to be popular. The phrases are catchy and express a substantial meaning thought through minimal use of words. Turning the phrases into sentences that are grammatically correct somehow makes them sound awkward and requires more words too.

Given that the phrases listed above are positive affirmations, perhaps you can allow usage of them from time to time. After all, who would say no to a little more energy that is positive in his or her day? Cross your fingers that a Grammar Guru is not nearby when the conversations begin.

Comments about being grammatically correct

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      How about the one I hate - Seriously? What's your opinion here. One other habit that has crept into our language is when someone makes a verbal statement, but elevates their voice at the end of the sentence as though it were a question. Grrrgghgh!!!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you and nice to see you! I think it's a little fun :)

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      5 years ago from Pune, India

      Another great Hub from you, Christy......

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      LOL @busyguru, like I totally get it!

    • busyguru profile image


      5 years ago from U.S.

      I loved your Hub. Like, totally! Did I use two correct sentences? I guess not... :)

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Chuck, I like the witty comment! You so cool as well hehe.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      6 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      This is a brilliant article. Way cool! When it comes to writing-- you the man. Voted up, sideways and totally awesome.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @JBoozer, I'm glad you found the hub! I wrote it a little while back and recently updated it. I am glad you enjoyed the read. I have also noticed about the soda/pop language!

      @Puella, there is no rush but please let me know when you do write the hub as I would like to read it :) Take care.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Christy, thanks for several reasons: your excellent hub, the hubbers: the candor is so attractive here and, of course, the quality of what and how it is shared. I will get organized and follow your advice of a, perhaps, my hub on a sort of comparison of the two languages I have used the most. Thanks again.

    • JBoozer profile image


      6 years ago

      I just stumbled upon this article, and I thought it was a great observation of today's English language. I study it myself! I noticed once that slang phrases will develop regionally as well. They'll be a part of the dialect. Great minor example is "soda" and "pop". Anyway, I'm glad I found the article. Voted up!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @craftarrif, thanks for such an enthusiastic comment. Yes "sick" means good now!

    • craftarrific profile image


      6 years ago from California

      This is great! The word "Sick" sure has changed since I was growing up! "That's SICK!" used to mean it was gross. Now it seems to be a good thing!?

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Puella, you have many views on language. You must pursue these in your hubs. Take parts of your remarks here and create one about your time at college and courses about English. You have much to share with the HP community. Take care.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Before the current meaning of the word "awesome" (England) the equivalent term was "awful" ;)

      Even in South America, they imported a few words from American English from companies settled there for oil exploration; the exploration crews used some tools by the manufacturer "Mack and Dale" (forgive if I am wrong spelling this); at the end of the shift everyone in the crew needed to gather the tools to bring them back to the the expression referring to the task of gathering the tools was born as "macundales" in Spanish!!! ;) and its use extrapolated from the oil exploration realm to everyday use like, for example, to move out of a flat, you'd say "I will move my 'macundales' to the new place by next week"...

      So languages do get "imports" and "exports" depending on where the observer is standing ;)obviously, or perhaps, since we belong to a global community we would not call it again imports/exports but just use it and everyone will get or ...get the meaning? ;) regardless the source/origins...

      Same thing happened with those famous shoes "wash and comb" popular in the Elvis Presley era ;) Southamericans used to call those shoes 'guachicones"...particularly in Venezuela...

      English is the only language in some countries that is a compulsory subject; we took English all the way since elementary until the first two years of college; same thing with the Spanish; everything from grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading AND writing to history of the language, culture and civilization of the motherland, etc etc. In my times, teachers or profs. came imported from England or the Caribbean area; same for those we took additional language classes like French or Latin. Latin, to me was an enlightening experience really. And it gave birth to my love for languages, specially English and its exquisite ways to call everything by its name and being 'correct; at the same time: indeed a difficult task in Spanish and RAE. Some Spaniard King (I think Alfonso X, is said to have said that Spanish was the language to speak to God... given its "elegance" and "formality"... For elegance, English can be a real pearl and for formality, I think it's mostly needed in diplomacy and technical writing. Creativity knows only of freedom and inventive and muse..and none of those three can be restricted for writing from our souls... Cheers

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @puella, thanks for a great comment here. I am surprised that English is not your first language given how well you write here. I am delighted by your positive view of the hub and smiling about your love for the English language! I look forward to reading your hubs!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm newish here ;) but I can't help to share my delight with this hub: Great hub here! and, to me, this subject is an old fascination...

      Languages do evolve and grow, otherwise, they'd become, like Latin and similar ones, 'dead' languages.

      I find that the use of any 'new' or 'disgruntled' word can be less cringing than a phrase: a word by itself would not break grammar rules and it's really meaningfully in a gathering of contemporaneous 'fellas',mostly passing the time instead of engaging in philosophical matters, even in a reported context/speech. A phrase violating grammar rules is not fulfilling the purpose of language which is to communicate in the least ambiguous fashion, regardless of formal or informal requirements, and, frankly, is not inspiring either ;)...Language can be delightful and full of 'nous' :), even with witty misspellings... Likewise, some embedded sayings do sound uninspiring, like "all is good". "I'm good, thank you", "we was falling in love" (there she Unfortunately, this kind of language 'indigestions' can uninvite anyone to participate...

      I was not born in an English spoken place; yet, I fell in love with the English language when I was in elementary school, so you will find me sometimes mechanically translating a phrase or a sentence straight from the Spanish rigorous grammar-based structure

      Yet I find that English allows one to express better our inner thoughts and be semantically more impressing...

      Thanks really for a good and interesting reading here...Cheers.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @PegCole, the language certainly has changed over time. That is a "groovy" comment! Hehe. I like that the hub had you thinking about your own words :)

      @Jo_Goldsmith, Your comment is a great one and so positive! I smile back at you :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Christy, These are funny reminders of our changing language. In my day we said things like, "Far out!" and "Right on!" and "It's a stone cold gas." My favorite was "I can dig it!", meaning I understand. It is a new generation that can use the phrase "Where you at?" and not be concerned about the grammar.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      6 years ago

      You have presented a useful, funny and interesting hub here. I laughed and shook my head in agreement. I sometimes am baffled at why we use these abbreviated words to get our point across. I find it helpful as a writer to speak as I write, while I write how I speak. :)

      I hope folks will use smiley faces more. This helps me get the point across that I am pleased with what I have read. Great hub! :) Voted up and shared. take care. :)

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Sunburn, hehe you're "awesome" :) I understand how you feel about the caring phrase as the person means they do not care but if we take a step back they care enough to use the phrase! Accck! Thanks for your comment and identifying with my feelings too.

      @iefox5, I wonder if it is the chicken and the egg situation, where the phrase comes from the internet or vice versa? Thanks for the comment!

    • sunbun143 profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      My pet peeve is "I couldn't care less." This phrase makes no sense....well it makes sense but is likely the opposite of what the speaker meant! It should be "I could NOT care less." That said, I cringe at real grammar mistakes and misused words like your/you're (see my hub) much more often than slang usage. I use slang often - like "whatevers" and "awesome" and "wassup" all the dang time. Just for reference, I'm over 30 years old and live in Southern California ;)

    • iefox5 profile image


      6 years ago

      Our oral phrases are deeply influenced by Internet nowadays, we can't judge this phenomenon good or bad. But for me, change means creative.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Docmo, why thank-you! "You the bomb" hehe

      @Suzette, thanks for the compliments. I do love to hear when readers connect with the hub and I appreciate the kindness of your comment.

      @Millionaire, I am "stoked" that you like my hub! Thanks for the comment.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @UnnamedHarald, your comment set me laughing! You da man for writing such a great comment for me! Thanks for letting me know about the age-related details :)

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @weestro, I appreciate the positivity of your remark! Thank-you.

      @Audra, Hehe! Awe, thank-you for the vote, comment, and share :)

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Vinaya, Yes the English language has many varieties depending on the geographical region. It is interesting to study. Thanks for letting me know about your writing preferences, and stopping by my hub!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      Nice one ( is this another one of those phrases?!) Christy. Loved your compilation of grammatically dubious phrases. Well written. This is 'Way cool';-)

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great hub! Very well written! My least favorite word or response to anything is "awesome." It means nothing to me, but has become so popular in our popular lexicon. Even parents and teachers use it. It is just my pet peeve!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      What's up, Cristy? This hub is way cool. Totally. Grammar doesn't control us, we control it. Rules are made for breaking.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I enjoyed reading your article and see the ridiculousness of trying to be grammatically correct while trying to convey the meaning of these phrases. On the other hand, it is almost painful for younger people to be subjected to these phrases when uttered by age-challenged people such as myself, so I try to express myself as age-appropriately as possible. BTW how do I say "You the man!" when addressing a woman. You da man, Christy!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      This was a great hub, I really enjoyed it! Wow, that's a lot to type! I Voted this Hub up!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Christy, I could use all the help I can get! I like your hub very much! Voted up and shared!!!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      I don't usually follow suggestions by grammar checker. I have used some of the aforementioned phrases and always thought colloquial languages have their own sets of rules.

      By the way English language is also developing a local taste in my country.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Sandy, I am pleased that my hub got you thinking about more words and their face value vs intended meanings! I appreciate the vote "up" and the inclusion of "what's up"! Thank-you for a great comment here.

    • Sandy Frost profile image

      Sandy Frost 

      6 years ago from India

      Yes Christy, the phrase "what's up" always amazes us as it is used to greet peoples or to get their attention but verbally, it fluctuates from it's real meaning. As we say- "What's up!!", can we relate this "up" to something up in the air!! I think the need of this "up" is related to something positive, like saying "voted up" or "buck up". This "up", which is up to the mark (for any progressive reason) or giving some positive feelings, links well and suits best to the phrase mentioned. But right now, if we prove the grammatical correctness of this phrase in such way, a question raises again and that is about the phrases like "give up" and "time's up"!! What each of these terms sounding is again a point of interest. As we can see, "up" used in both phrases is not defining itself for some positive or progressive reason as in "voted up". It amazes us again and the mystery goes on. :)

      Well, you've written a very nice and interesting hub. Many thanks.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hehe very funny! Thanks for a great comment here :)

    • Dr Kavita Shaikh profile image

      Dr Kavita Shaikh 

      6 years ago from MUSCAT

      Excellent hub as always Christy. BTW my response to your hub: 'Totally!' LOL

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes language as with trends change over time. Thank-you for stopping by to read, I appreciate that!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      6 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      This is a good article Christy, I am one of those that cringes when I hear people speaking with these modern phrases. The interesting thing is, that when I was in my 20s we had a whole set of phrases and words along the same lines.

      Voted Up!


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