blow-mindDiscussions of English Language pet peeves provide an entertaining forum for the expression of ire. In fact, if a “pet” is something we cherish, and a “peeve” is something that annoys us, “pet peeves” are what we love to hate. Here's a collection of common English solecisms—guaranteed not to literally blow your mind:

English Pet Peeves: Logic Problems

    • “I could care less.” – If you're expressing disinterest, you couldn't care less.
    • Every I hear Paul McCartney sing, “But if this ever-changing world in which we live in…” I cringe. Correct usage is “… in which we live.”
    • “The reason why this happened is because…” – use either “why” or “because,” but not both.

The reason this happened is because …

The reason why this happened is …

To be picky, we can do away with “The reason” if we precede the cause with “because.”

This happened because …

  • “Where's it at?” – It's at over there.
  • “Comprising of” – should be “comprising” or “comprised of.”

English Pet Peeves: and Repetition

  • Why repeat the word that the last letter stands for (ISBN, VIN, ATM)?
  • Shouldn't we get ISB for our ?
  • Why don't our cars have VI ?
  • Why don't we get cash from an AT Machine?


  • Plan ahead, plan for the future – can you plan behind?
  • Hot water heater – Why would you heat it if it's already hot?
  • Past history – As opposed to future history?
  • It was a very unique – Are there degrees of uniqueness?
  • final conclusion – conclusions are assumed to be final unless you specify they're preliminary
  • pre-recorded – You can only record it once.
  • pre-planned – Is this the before the planning?
  • reply back or respond back – “Back” is assumed.
  • first-ever – if it's first, “ever” is implied.


  • Same difference – Please choose one.
  • Free Gift – Really? I usually pay for gifts.

Imaginary Words

  • The seminar orientated me to my new job responsibilities. (oriented)
  • We'll conversate after the . (converse)

Confusion and Abuse

  • “You've got two choices.” – usually means someone has one choice between two options.
  • “…on either side” – usually means on both sides
  • “It literally blew my mind” – usually means figuratively. Your head did not explode.
  • further vs. farther – farther refers to physical distance; further refers to figurative distance: “Is it more than a mile farther down the road?” “Yes, would you like further directions?”
  • lie vs. lay – To “lay down” means to spread baby duck feathers across a surface.
  • lose vs. loose – If your button is loose, you'll lose it when it falls off.
  • everyday vs. every day – Summer rains are an everyday occurrence; they happen every day.
  • good vs. well – “good” describes character or desirability. “Well” describes status.
  • fewer vs. less – Use “fewer” with countable objects. Use “less” to refer to matters of degree or status: After the delivery, one less package left him with fewer to deliver.
  • advise vs. inform – to “advise” is to suggest. To “inform” is to present with factual information.
  • goes vs. says – “goes” is outright slang—not an acceptable substitute for “says.”
  • loath vs. loathe – “Loath” is an adjective meaning hesitant or unwilling. “Loathe” is a verb meaning to dislike.
  • discrete vs. discreet – “Discrete” means different or unique. “Discreet” means hidden or respectful of privacy.
  • moot vs. mute – The point was moot and not worth pursuing so Bill stayed mute on the matter.
  • incidences instead of incidents
  • ensure vs. insure – To “insure” means to purchase insurance. To “ensure” means to make sure: He insured his valuables to ensure their safety.
  • Irregardless – “regardless” with a skin tab
  • nuclear vs. nucular – “Nucular” is a mispronunciation of “nuclear.”
  • alot vs. a lot – “Alot” is incorrect; use two words to suggest “a lot full of items.”
  • .50 cents = half a penny
  • peaked vs. piqued – “Piqued” means to catch attention. “The coin piqued his interest but in a few moments, his curiosity peaked and then he moved on.
  • data vs. datum – data is a plural noun, often used incorrectly as a singular noun.

Weak Substitutions

  • doable vs. feasible – “doable” is an improvised “verb + able” word
  • use vs. utilize – “utilize” is and pseudosophisticated
  • momentarily – means for a very short . When the pilot says, “We'll be in the air momentarily, he's implying that you'll only be off the ground for a moment.”

  • waiting on vs. waiting for – The attendant waited on the customers while they waited for their luggage to arrive.
  • should of vs. should have
  • different from vs. different than – “different from” is technically correct: The red ball is different from the blue ones. Use “different than” when making a comparison: Today, things are different than they were in 1980.
  • “One in ten people are …” – the subject (One) is singular, so use “is.”

Hollow and Crutches

  • “To be honest with you…” – can't we assume you're being honest?
  • “The fact of the matter is…” – an empty crutch phrase
  • “untimely death” – who schedules their death? These words cling together to form a tired cliché.
  • “back in the day” – does this mean breakfast?

Evolving Language

  • impact vs. affect – “impact” is not a verb, though its use as one is so widespread that it will probably become one.
  • who vs. whom – “whom” is fading from language to a point where many grammarians are discarding it like “thee” and “thou.” You'll find a list of them in Who's Whom? For .
  • functionality vs. function – lots of common crossover here. Theoretically, a program with more functions has greater functionality.

What are your favorite English pet peeves? Or is it redundant to have a “favorite” pet peeve?

This was originally published on my previous : The