Grammar check – three word mistakes – let’s admit we aren’t perfect!

Images: Pixabay

I’m all for getting words right, but I also admit that I’ve gotten things wrong over the years. Here are three commonly misused words or pairs of words. Let’s have a full confessional – have you made these mistakes, or ones like them?

Intensive purposes – what does that mean exactly? Strong or extreme purposes? What you’re really trying to say is “for all intents and purposes,” meaning practically speaking.

Gauntlet vs. gamut – You can run both the gauntlet and the gamut, but they mean different things. A gauntlet used to be a punishment where you got hit when you ran through two rows of people (no thanks!) and a gamut is a range of options. I think I’d rather run the gamut. How about you?

Flout vs. flaunt – They don’t mean the same thing. Flout means to ignore the rules. Flaunt means to show off.


Bonus bogus words and phrases that are catching on:

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to youth sports talk and have noticed that kids (and adults) have begun using these phrases interchangeably:

Out of bounds and out of balance – as in, “That ball was way out of balance!” In our little world, that means out of bounds.

Versing – as in, “Next week, we’re versing the blue team!” I hear this all the time and I’ve even heard it on TV sports. I think this is one word that will definitely morph into legitimate usage.

Do you have other examples of misused words?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

36 thoughts on “Grammar check – three word mistakes – let’s admit we aren’t perfect!

  1. Back in the ancient days when I worked as a secretary and had to type my boss’s letters for him, I came across his repeated use of “various unsundry.” Being a brat, I innocently asked him what the definition of “unsundry” was, and when he stammered a non-answer, I said, “Oh! You mean, ‘and sundry’?” I didn’t work there very long, needless to say.

  2. One of my pet peeves lately is the use of the verb to recommend used like this “can you recommend me a book.” “Can you recommend a book for me” is a better direct object! I’ve even seen “can you suggest me a book.” Ugh! Of course, my biggest pet peeve is “I seen.” Nails on a chalkboard reaction from me and I constantly resist the urge to correct people!

    1. I don’t know if I’ve heard “recommend me a book” but that would get to me. As for seen, eeek! But always better to stay mum, I think. Thanks for reading and commenting, Carol.

  3. I don’t know where to start. Let’s just say after teaching English for umpteen years, I cringe at the misuse of it’s and its, there and their, here and hear. Often, these errors are a result of hastiness and failure to proofread, not lack of knowledge.

    Great list, Barbara!

    1. Yes, those rules are so basic. I remember having them drilled into us in 7th or 8th grade and I haven’t forgotten them. I also think people are in too much of a hurry to proofread what they write. It makes a difference to me, though. Thanks for reading and commenting, Marian. 🙂

      1. I have it built into all of my writing apps, such as Word and WordPress. I find it incredibly useful. I don’t always agree with its suggestions, but I think it helps improve my writing.

  4. Great post, Barbara! I’ve never heard of some of your sport examples, but you’re right, they don’t make a lot of sense. It’s easy for me to get pulled from the story when I see words like “their” or “they’re” or “there” being used incorrectly. This is why a good editor is so important.

    1. Hi Jill. It’s so true – having a good editor or even a second set of eyes will catch many errors. And, IMO, their, they’re and there should never be used improperly. That’s one of the basics. But I don’t want to sound like a word snob. Sometimes, when rushing, it’s easier to make mistakes. Thanks for the visit!

  5. My contribution to this list would be: part and parcel. It’s not “park and parcel” a phrase I’ve heard people say and I’ve inwardly snarled about it.

  6. Great post! I hear “intensive purposes” quite a bit, and think it’s really funny. I’ve never heard of “versing” — interesting! I’m drawing a blank on other misused words right now, although someone at work keeps saying there’s a “din of noise”, which makes me laugh.

    1. Intensive purposes almost sounds like it could work – I agree that one is funny. Yes, versing must be unique to this part of PA, though I know I’ve heard it on TV. I think it started with kids and adults have adopted the word. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I once had a boss who always changed my typewritten letters requiring his signature – making, often incorrect, alterations in pen. I am going back 40 years, before ‘reiterate’ took over. I was annoyed with this practice so I used ‘iterate’ when, of course, ‘repeat’ would have done. He fell into the trap and added the ‘re’. I did feel smug. ‘Proactive’ is another hate of mine, but I know I will have to accept it now.

  8. I’m always amazed at how many people write “all intensive purposes.” What is that supposed to mean? And I’m not judging, because I’ve done more than my share to misuse words and phrases!

    1. I’m not judging, either. Like Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies says in an earlier comment, “intensive purposes” is kind of funny! I have tripped over many of these. I remember thinking that “next door” was “next store” – for years! Thanks for stopping by, Ann 🙂

      1. When I was a child, I always wondered what an “infantsol” was. You know, from the line in “Silent Night” that goes “holy infant so tender and mild!”

  9. When something doesn’t sound right to my ear, I’ll stop and write it out, maybe even google the phrase or word. Often it’s just people slurring words. I have a colleague who has a speech impediment. He will say “intensive purposes” but mean “intents and purposes.” Working for state government, what gets under my skin is the use of nouns as verbs (“Dora messaged the new policy to our stakeholders.”) It isn’t efficiency, saying “messaged” as opposed to “sent a message about.” Message as a verb implies that the message itself was appropriate, fulfilled some expectation. It’s government-speak, and it drives me crazy 😉

    1. Haha – I hadn’t thought of “messaged” but I have to admit, I use that all the time, mostly when I’m talking about text messages. I think a younger people are a lot more accepting of these kinds of “word morphs.” Thanks for reading and commenting, Marie 🙂

      1. I’m definitely using more word morphs these days. In my workplace, I have to in order to be understood, which is kind of ironic. But our language is so flexible and fluid. With technology, we have to adapt to new modes of communication which leads to new words or old words used in a new way. It can be frustrating at first for an old English major such as myself, but it’s not so bad if I find the humor and the humanity in it 🙂

      2. You have a great attitude because the reality is that younger people are adopting new forms of speech and if we want to stay relevant we need to go with the changes (within reason!).

    1. Just a little fun – I’m in no way a grammar or vocab snob. I’ve felt the burn of being corrected in public enough times to know that successful communication is way more important. Thanks for commenting, Robbie!

      1. Yes, I agree – better to concentrate on what’s being said, rather than how it’s said. Still, I like a good grammar rule. I thought of you yesterday, Robbie, because I spent 3 hours getting my hair done and was anxious to escape!

  10. In my adult life I haven’t said Intensive purposes but I can’t say I have never said it! 😂 Also I don’t think I have ever used gauntlet or gamut in a sentence but I knew what they both meant! 😂 Another one that always gets me is when people say “I could care less” when they really mean “I couldn’t care less”!

    1. OMG I hate that one! When people say they could care less, they’re not even listening or thinking about what they’re saying! Get it right is what I’m thinking! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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