If anyone ever asks: “Why do you always answer a question with a question?” you should reply: “Do I do that?”
Most-annoying expression en vogue? Wait for it…
That was the end of the sentence.
Don’t say “Wait for it…” in the middle of a sentence.
It’s been said-to-death, and now sounds annoying and self-amused.
Do YOU have time to wait…for anything???
Do you know the difference between “erudite” and “pedantic?”
If you do, you could be pedantic.
A surprising number of erudite people mispronounce “erudite,” which has three syllables, not four. Say “AIR-ooo-dite,” not “AIR-eee-ooo-dite.”
Because you are judged by how you speak, avoid these common misstatements:
“Due to the fact that…”
Instead, say “Because…”
“I could care less.”
Do you say this when you mean the opposite?
Do you know the difference between “imply” and “infer?”
Only a speaker can imply.
Only a listener can infer.
How about “it’s” and “its?”
“It’s” is a contraction for “it is.”
“Its” is possessive, as in “the cat licked its hurt paw.”
Do you mean “out-of-the-loop?” Being “out-of-pocket” means you’re on-your-own-dime, not-yet-reimbursed. Often, people misspeak by using this phrase to mean “out-of-the-loop,” meaning they’ll be incapable-of-being-contacted for a while. If you mean you’ll be out-of-touch, say “out-of-touch.”
Gears don’t “switch,” they “shift.”
“It’s deja vu all over again:” Beat!
Common mispronunciations, which I deliberately include in radio audition scripts:
“Jewelry,” pronounced “jewel-ry,” is often mispronounced “jew-lery,” which could offend.
“Literally” has four syllables. (“LIT-trilly” sounds pseudo-intellectual.)
“undoubtably” (Surely you mean “undoubtedly.”)
“vice-a-versa” (It’s “vice-versa.”)
Some of the most common malapropisms I hear are redundancies.
To sound more authoritative than people who don’t know better, don’t say:
When you say “amount,” do you really mean “number?”
Incorrect: “Police estimate the amount of people attending the protest march at over a thousand.”
Instead: “Police estimate the number of people attending the protest march at over a thousand.”
“Amount words relate to quantities of things that are measured in bulk; number to things that can be counted,” according to “Common Errors in English Usage,” worth-bookmarking.
Avoid clichés like the plague.
JUST kidding. But seriously, “at the end of the day,” you’ll want to avoid this “scenario:” Sounding like everyone else.
“So…” is the new “like.”
HC explains on The Allan Handelman Show:Lose “like,” or you’ll be conspicuous in job interviews, and seem less-than authoritative in other communication.
And beware of another annoying speech pattern now common: beginning sentences with “So…”, which doesn’t accomplish anything gramatically, and can sound condescending. I hear this a lot, often from very articulate people. For instance: I attend several Internet-related conventions every year; and nearly every single panelist — otherwise smart people — begins his/her spiel “So…”
And another speech pattern? One that really annoys people?
Where the speaker stops? Mid-sentence? And inserts question marks?
This is job interview tear gas, and annoying generally.
It sounds tentative, and imposes upon the listener.
An effective communicator sounds more confident.
And WHATEVER you say, don’t say “Whatever,” as a single-word sentence. It’s THE-most-annoying, to nearly half of Americans polled by Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.
Forgive me. Old English teacher gag.