Wednesday Words: What’s Your Pet Peeve?

No, not that! Anything but THAT!

What is your greatest pet peeve in common language usage?

I polled some friends and here are a few I heard:

  • Confusing words like your and you’re; to, too, and two; idea and ideal
  • “Anyways” instead of Anyway”
  • Ending sentences with a preposition
  • Misuse of lie/lay, that/which, due to/because of
  • Redundancies like “Return back”
  • Mispronunciations like “arthur” instead of “author”
  • Problems with compound possessives – “My wife and I’s kids” instead of “My wife’s and my kids”
  • “Yeah” instead of “Yes, ma’am” (maybe that’s a Southern thing)
  • “Like,” “and so on,” “and all,” “all that,” “you know” peppered throughout speech 

But the winner of my informal Facebook poll would be the person who agrees with my all-time pet peeve.  (Good job, Amy!)  My own vote is the oft-used phrase, “I could care less.”  Well, I reply, then do.

You see, what people are actually trying to communicate is that they don’t care at all.  The original phrase, therefore, is “I couldn’t care less” – as in “I could not possibly care any less than I currently do because I don’t care at all.”  If you “could care less,” then that means that you care some! 

In this case, I do not accept that the phrase is simply changing; the argument that language is fluid and always evolving, that the correct word or phrase is what people most commonly use.  Because the phrase simply doesn’t make sense in that way. 

Whenever I hear it, I feel like Wolverine’s claws are scraping against the language center of my brain, ripping apart all that is good and holy.  And half of the time, it is from someone I don’t know well, so I can’t interject, “Hey, that’s wrong!” without risking weird stares, societal ostracizing, or getting pushed onto my keister.  (Though I can be found from time to time yelling at my TV or radio, “I couldn’t care less!!” to someone who has misused the phrase yet again.)  Also, adding rudeness to poor language usage falls into the “two wrongs do not make a right” category. 

So do you have your own language pet peeves?  What are they?  How do you handle it when you hear them?

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9 thoughts on “Wednesday Words: What’s Your Pet Peeve?

  1. excellent post and yes you're right – we all have pet peeves. Unfortunately some of mine, I actually commit myself! Eg. Their, there, your, you're etc. However, sometimes these result from a typo?? At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

  2. I don't know why, but "Happy New Years" always makes me cringe. Yes, I know it's New Year's Eve, but we only get one new year at a time, people. Glad I'm not alone out there in pet peeve land!

  3. OH, I have one that drives me crazy – when people say things like, "He gave a beautiful flower arrangement to Mike and I". I could scream! I'm constantly telling my family to take away the first person or thing after the "to" and see how it sounds then!

  4. EXCELLENT! Anyways is a big one for me. There is no 's'. Anyways is not a word.Irregardless is another….and can you believe it's been misused so many times now that Websters made it a word. That infuriates me! Irregardless is not a world It's Regardless! There/Their/They're – Kills meI'm I being mean? 🙂

  5. Hi Julie. For the most part, I'm pretty relaxed about language, though I do have a few things I notice. Icky things make people "nauseated" and not "nauseous." Also, I hate it when people make it a point to pronounce words in snooty, uncommon ways. For example, I used to know a woman who placed the emphasis on the second syllable of the word, "colleague." It was about as genuine as Minnie Driver's English accent.

  6. I'm happy to see I'm not alone! I think I'm pretty forgiving about the occasional slip. I'm far more bothered when people form a bad pattern or when mistakes occur in a professional atmosphere (the newscaster better get it right!). I wonder if people simply don't care or if we don't teach language well in school. I don't know. Thanks for all the comments!

  7. One of the things that really drives me up a wall is the use of "weary" when people really mean "wary." Makes.Me.Crazy.In other news, I've learned that college students don't use the 's when they should. This leads to lots of awkward sentences, like, "In Weber book, we learn that…." This also makes me want to scream.Wonderful post!

  8. I'm with you on a lot of these (though I commit some of them too). For whatever reason when the word "to" comes at the end of a sentence, I want to make it "too". I find myself doing it a lot. I drive myself crazy. One of my pet peeves is when people say "for all intensive purposes" instead of "for all intents and purposes".

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