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?