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Commonly mis-used phrases in English

A recent survey in the UK has found that native speakers commonly mis-use certain expressions. Test your knowledge of common mis-used phases.

At first, this mis-use of English by native speakers was a surprise for my students as they sometimes think that native speakers don’t make mistakes but, of course, everyone can make mistakes in terms of pronunciation, spelling and word use.

Read the article about mis-used phrases and try to correct the word and phrases in bold in the example sentences.

A piece of research carried out in the UK has shown some of the most commonly misused phrases by native speakers. These mistakes are called eggcorns, defined as a word or phrase that is mistakenly substituted with another word or phrase that sounds similar. When people make these types of mistakes they can sound strange and funny. Three common examples of eggcorns are:

“to curve your enthusiasm” (instead of “to curb your enthusiasm")

“an escape goat” (instead of “a scapegoat”)

biting my time” (instead of “biding”)

  1. To be more pacific you need to speak with greater clarity in your speeches.
  2. I was looking forward to the party, but it turned out to be a damp squid.
  3. How did you do in the test? I’ve been on tender hooks all day.
  4. You need to look after number one as it’s a doggie-dog world out there.
  5. Even though everyone new she was guilty, she got off scotch free.
  6. The computer was brand new but to all intensive purposes it was unusable.
  7. He is scared of everything and wouldn’t say boo to a ghost.
  8. Don’t play poker with them as they as they are real card sharks.
  9. Don’t take what I said seriously, it was just a tongue and cheek statement.
  10. I really hope she gets her just deserves for what she did.
Students discussing over some books

Answers

  1. To be more specific you need to speak with greater clarity in your speeches.
  2. I was looking forward to the party but it turned out to be a damp squib.
  3. How did you do in the test? I’ve been on tenter hooks all day.
  4. You need to look after number one as it’s a dog eat dog world out there.
  5. Even though everyone new she was guilty, she got off scot free.
  6. The computer was brand new but to all intents and purposes it was unusable.
  7. He is scared of everything and wouldn’t say boo to a goose.
  8. Don’t play poker with them as they as they are real card sharps.
  9. Don’t take what I said seriously, it was just a tongue in cheek statement.
  10. I really hope she gets her just desserts for what she did.