Me, the English language, and phrases that make my teeth grind

I love language. I like to listen to Suzi Dent on Countdown explaining the origin of words. I’ve studied French, Spanish, Latin, Italian and Russian and am excited when I can see connections between languages. I understand that languages change…you only have to read Shakespeare to see that turns of phrase have made their way into our current use of words. With text speak becoming normalised, and grammar going out of the window, and, let’s face it, I’m getting old and grumpy, there are phrases that really get my goat! Here are a few.

1) LIFE HACKS. Now, I thought that hacking something meant chopping it up into pieces but it appears to have had a huge transformation to mean tips or short cuts. I’m not sure how. I think it came about when people were buying cheap furniture from a well known cheapish furniture shop and changing it by cutting bits out and adding other things. I’m really  not sure how it has changed. But I don’t like it!

2) COULD OF, WOULD OF, SHOULD OF. Just NO! It is Could HAVE, Would HAVE, Should HAVE. Grrrrrr!

3) LIKE…as in He was like, and she was like…As far as I can work out that should be He said, and she said. And you can completely leave it out of sentences if you use it more than a few times! Of course if you are using it as a verb it is acceptable. I watched an interview where Will.I.Am was taken to task about this by the magnificent Miriam Margolyes.

4) WENT AND SAW. There is a well known fashion correspondent on a morning show who always uses this phrase. Whilst it is possibly grammatically correct, whenever he says it it makes me cross!

5) LITTLE MAN. Used to describe a young male child from birth til…I don’t know. I just dislike it intensely. They’re boys.

6) YOU KNOW and even worse YOU GET ME? Used as an interjection in sentences. If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking about the subject.


8) BASICALLY and LITERALLY. Basically you could literally leave these out of 95% of sentences!
Those are the few I can immediately think of…what phrases make you cross?


2 thoughts on “Me, the English language, and phrases that make my teeth grind

  1. Oooohh you’ve chosen one of my absolute bugbears there too… the “could of” one. It drives me potty! My other bugbear is “off of”. Whaaaaaat?? I saw a well known company a few days ago tweet something like “20% off of your next order” and I was so tempted to correct them but decided against it. Glad I’m not the only one who gets irritated by them 🙂 xxx

  2. I’m holding my hands up to number five lol. I do call Damian my ‘little man’ and indeed any little boy. Oops. Perhaps it’s because I dislike the term ‘boy’ having heard it bellowed along school corridors? *shudders*. I love English language even though I abuse it. I like words. I like how they sound…
    Interesting post m’dear 🙂

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