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12 Phrases Even Native English Speakers Get Wrong

A dozen phrases even native English speakers get wrong.


If you’re not a native English speaker but you are studying the language or have learned it but are working towards speaking more clearly and being understood, you probably want to read on.

So you want to talk like a native? Believe it or not, there are dozens of phrases that even those who have been speaking the language their entire lives get wrong ALL THE TIME!

So, while you can certainly continue to learn by listening to native speakers in face to face conversation, via television or radio programs and through music, here are just a select few phrases you might be able to teach to the native speakers!


“For all intensive purposes” 

The correct phrase is, “for all intents and purposes.” 

The correct phrase means for every practical or important reason.

“Nipped in the butt.”

The correct phrase is, “nipped in the bud.”

The correct phrase means to solve something before it becomes a bigger or more serious problem, as in nipping or pinching off a young bud on a plant will prevent it from growing.


“I could care less.”

The correct phrase is, “I couldn’t care less.”

The correct phrase means that you care so little that you could not care any less than you already do. If you say it incorrectly, you are actually saying you care about something a lot!


“Could of, should of”

The correct phrase is, “could have or should have.” This is a case of mishearing/misspeaking. The contractions of these phrases SOUND like, “could of” and “should of” when said outlaid (could’ve should’ve), which is some times then WRITTEN as could of and should of, but is in fact could’ve and should’ve.


“One in the same.”

The correct phrase is, “one and the same.”

The phrase is supposed to put emphasis on the fact that two things you are discussing are actually identical or, “the same.” This is another often mis-hear and mis-typed phrase.

“Waiting on.”

Now this is a tricky one. The correct phrase is technically, “waiting for,” but it is also part of the South0eastern dialect of American English to say, “waiting on,” as most of the rest of the country does not speak this way.

The correct phrase is, “waiting for.” If you were to be a person working as a waiter/waitress or server, you would be, in fact, “waiting on,” people. The phrases do NOT mean the same thing, so remember, if you say, “waiting on your friend,” that means you are serving them, which is most likely not what you mean to say!


“Wet your appetite.”

The correct phrase is, “whet your appetite.”

The phrase means to give someone or to get someone interested or entice them. The words, “whet” and “wet” are pronounced the same, but spelled differently. The correct verb, “whet,” means to sharpen.


“He/She did good”

The correct phrase is, “he/she did well.” the words good and well are often thought of at interchangeable, they are actually not.  Here is the correct way to use each of these words: use “well” as an adverb, which describes verbs and “good as an adjective to describe nouns. For example, “The man runs well,” and “Spot is a good dog.”


The correct word is, “espresso.” It is pronounced with an ’s’ sounds and not an ‘x’ sound.



The correct word is, “Regardless.” To say, “irregardless” is a double negative and incorrect.


“Hone in”

The correct phrase is to, “home in.” The word hone means to sharpen your skills, the phrase, “homing in,” means you are getting closer to something.

“Hunger pangs”

The correct phrase is, “hungry pangs.”

The phrase refers to the joints and shooting pain you get from being hungry. While saying Hunger pains is acceptable, the correct original phrase is pangs.”

(All images via google images)

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