Saturday, July 19, 2014

Common Mistakes We Make When Using English Words

Once in a while, I encounter friends who use certain words that make me wish I didn't hear them. I am no English major, and I admit I've had my share of blurting out awkwardly constructed sentences.

I could be wrong, but I just want to get this out of my chest. I don't claim to be an authority regarding this, therefore you don't have to follow or believe everything that I will say. It is best for you to conduct your own readings, just to be sure.

Anyway, here is a short list of words/phrases that I have noticed to be commonly used erroneously:

1. Irregardless.

     Technically, there is no such word. But some dictionaries recognize its existence in a regretful tone. Knowing that the prefix "ir-" negates the suffix "-less", I prefer to use "regardless", because the said prefix has no purpose.

2. Cope up.

     Please don't use this, it's very annoying. Instead, just say "cope", or perhaps you mean to say "keep up".


* I use a strict time table of activities in order to cope with my busy schedule.

* You are a faster runner, I think I cannot keep up with your pace.

3. Taken cared of.

This is wrong, but usually goes unnoticed, that even some journalists commit the mistake of using it. It's easy if you use the present or future tense:

I will take care of you.
In the office, he takes care of the financial matters.
He is taking care of his grandfather.

But trouble arises when subject and predicate are switched:

The water bills are being taken cared of by my sister. [wrong! ]

These are correct:

The water bills are being taken care of by my sister.
You will be taken care of by me.
The financial matters are taken care of by the treasurer.
Don't worry about the laundry. It's already taken care of.

4. Everytime.

Most if not all dictionaries do not recognize the word "everytime". Therefore, the correct way is to separate the two words, "every time". However, many people have been using the combined form even in the titles of songs. And since the English language is always evolving, it is not unlikely that "everytime" will soon be formally accepted. But for the time being, I prefer to use "every time".

5. _____-in-laws. 

The plural form of daughter-in-law is daughters-in-law, not daughter-in-laws. Because you just convert the main noun to its plural form, and leave the prepositional phrase as is. But if you only use in-law, then the plural form is in-laws.

6. Despite of.

I die a little every time I hear this. If you use "despite", there is no need to add "of". Perhaps you are meaning to say "in spite of", which is basically the same. (And oh, by the way, notice how "in spite" is written as two separate words, not one, because the word "inspite" does not appear in dictionaries)


Bobby finished his task on time, in spite of many distractions he was facing.
Bobby finished his task on time, despite the distractions he was facing.

[Thanks to Ranier Icasiano for suggesting this.]

7. Thanks God!

If you are talking to God, this is okay.  But it gets better if it is written with a comma: "Thanks,  God!".

But if you are using it as an expression, or if you are talking to another person,  drop the s and get rid of the comma, or keep the s and add "to".

Thanks to my friends for helping me out.

Thank God this is finished!

[Thanks, Giji Hagenmuller, for suggesting this.]

And yes, you can share this.

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