10 Phrases That Make No Sense in English

In: How to

People do not always think over what they are going to say, and it may result in ridiculous phrases that make no sense in the English language. Smart Essay Rewriter has prepared for you a list of 10 such phrases that you had better avoid in your speech and writing not to appear illiterate. In some cases, grammar checking software will turn out useful in eliminating these structures from your writing, but it is always better to know grammar rules by yourself. So, try not to mix up with the next 10 phrases, and NEVER use the second variant given.

By accident / On accident

Native speakers manage this phrase fairly well; however, English learners often experience difficulties here. The thing is that English has a bunch of prepositions the usage of which does not make sense. It is hard to grasp that one should say on purpose, but by accident. There are no specific rules to stipulate the usage of these prepositions; they simply get imprinted on your mind over time.

To do well / To do good

This is another common mistake that has to do with two different parts of speech – an adverb and an adjective. The words well and good basically have the same shade of meaning, but you should use them in different syntactic structures. The rule is simple: when you deal with a verb, then follow it by the adverb, making it to do well. However, if you need to define a noun, then choose the adjective instead: a good pupil.

To ask a question / To aks a question

This mistake is a typical slip of the tongue, which rarely occurs in written speech. To ask a question is the variant that makes sense, while aksing questions evokes weird associations with axes – tools for chopping wood. Well, there is another option: you could pretend to be a West Indian who uses the word ax (or aks) as a dialect form of to ask. But it is better to follow the rules of academic English, especially when you work on a paper that is far from language dialects.

Editing software will detect such a typo at once, neither is it a problem for professional rewriters and editors. But when you speak to somebody directly, you should pay attention to your phonetics. Even Barack Obama confused these two words on one occasion. Nobody is perfect, which also means there is no limit to perfection.

A cup of espresso / A cup of expresso

You can drive a coffee addict crazy if you pronounce the second variant. Expresso is a word that should not exist in the language, but somehow it has rooted itself deeply in everyday communication. The extent of the problem is really great: some dictionaries have even included the wrong variant as a separate entry that has reference to the right word – espresso.

A 180 degree change / A 360 degree change

People may think that the greater the degree, the bigger the change. Not if you look at it from the mathematical point of view, though. A 360 degree change would geometrically mean that you turned but found yourself in the initial position after it. Therefore, the right option would be a 180 degree change, and this phrase means that something has become completely opposite.

I could not care less / I could care less

The correct option becomes obvious if you mull it over a bit. When you say that something makes no difference to you, you should say that you could not care less. In other words, you care so little that it cannot be less. But when you add the negative particle, the phrase becomes ridiculous. I could care less sounds like you are making fun of your partner; or maybe of yourself too because it is you who do not speak proper English.

Each one worse than the last / Each one worse than the next

People who use the phrase each one worse than the next are kind of foretellers. You cannot be sure that the next will actually be worse, can you? You should try it out first. That is why the only correct option would be to say each one is worse than the last, and it means that every new thing is inferior to the previous one.

To give free rein / To give free reign

These two phrases sound identically; moreover, rein and reign are slightly similar in meaning. That is why you will not know whether you get them right unless you use them in the written language. You should write down only the first option: to give somebody free rein or, alternatively, to give free rein to somebody / something. This is an idiom, so you cannot change its structure, even though the word reign seems to fit in the meaning.

On tenterhooks / On tender hooks

Our editors were very surprised to discover this mistake. It probably originates from the phonetic similarity between these two phrases. But you should keep in mind that one of them simply does not exist. It would be hard to imagine tender hooks: as a rule, they are sharp and metal. But they, nevertheless, have a certain connection to the idiom.

You should always say to be on tenterhooks, which means “to be in a state of agitation because of uncertainty”. Tenterhooks are something that we no longer use today, that is why it is so difficult to comprehend the phrase. A long time ago, people used these tools to hang fabric in the process of manufacturing. Right now you can draw an analogy: a hanging piece of cloth and an uncertain person. We hope you will avoid this mistake in the future.

Regardless of / Irregardless of

Regardless of already means “without consideration for” so there is no need to make it the double negation. Besides, any dictionary will tell you that there is no such word as irregardless. So stop inventing something that does not exist in the English language and polluting your speech with this ridiculous blunder.

Ways to check yourself

In everyday life you may accidentally use much more incorrect phrases than those 10 we have prepared today. In order to keep your language pure, check yourself every time you write a suspicious structure, especially when your gut feeling tells you it might be wrong. There are several ways to do it:

  • Install checking programs on your computer to deal with basic mistakes. Online services can give you approximately the same level of efficiency.

  • Consult the dictionary every time you feel unsure whether you got a phrase or idiom right.

  • Leave it to the professionals. Editors from Smart Essay Rewriter will do this dirty job for you. Whether you have an article, a CV, an essay or any other piece of writing, we will eliminate all typical mistakes as well as inconspicuous ones. With our services, which you can get at fair prices, your works will always be free of errors.

So, we warn you to stay away from the 10 typical mistakes in the English language. Attention to details is what makes your writing special. So it does not matter if you get something wrong by accident or due to a lack of knowledge; the fact itself already spoils the text. Our company is your devoted helper in doing well. Feel free to contact our managers to learn in what ways our editors can help you improve your texts.