8 Commonly Mistaken English Phrases

Words are hard.  It literally takes us, as humans, years to learn a bunch of them.  It’s estimated that by the age of 3 we’ve learned 500-1,000 words and by the time we’re finished with university our vocabulary has expanded to over 20,000 words (if you’re lucky!).  The problem arises when we realise a lot of people are making these very common English mistakes.  Unfortunately, we can go our entire lives without realising we’re making these common English mistakes.

common English mistakes

Looking through this whole book will take far too long.

Not only are words hard but the English language is pretty difficult, in fact it’s one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn and the reason for that is the sheer volume of ambiguous words in our vocabulary.  A good value Transcription and Proofreading service will know and spot these words and phrases that are often spoken and spelled incorrectly.

Here are my top ten favourite common English mistakes you’re probably making.

Common English Mistakes

Bear in mind

What you thought it was:  Bare in mind.

You probably thought this one was bare in mind, didn’t you?  Unfortunately, the word bare only ever refers to something without covering.  So, yes, let’s not give that one too much thought.

Duct tape

What you thought it was:  Duck tape.

Quack Quack!  This very, very common mistake is pretty funny when you think about it.  The reason a lot of people are convinced it’s duck tape is because of the way it’s spoken, usually as one word, the T at the end of duct blends into the T at the start of tape.  Duc-t-tape.  Duct tape is primarily used in heating and cooling ducts, hence the name.  Funnily enough, this one is made even more confusing by the fact there’s a brand of duct tape named Duck Tape.

For all intents and purposes

What you thought it was:  For all intensive purposes.

These purposes must be mightily intense, right?  Again, incorrect.  It’s for all intents and purposes, meaning whatever the original intention and purpose was, it should now be considered to cover all practical purposes.

Lo and behold

What you thought it was:  Low and behold.

I guess the only reason this one is mistaken quite a bit is because most people assume lo isn’t a word.  Lo actually is a word and it’s used to draw interest to something interesting.

Pique your interest

What you thought it was:  Peek your interest/peak your interest.

Another one that makes sense, if you were to peak your interest it would mean your interest was at the peak level it could be, right?  We can all make excuses for those who think it’s peek but they’re a lost cause.  Just kidding.  It’s pique, which means to arouse out of interest or curiosity.

Rite of passage

What you thought it was:  Write of passage.

Write that passage as quickly as you can!  No, unfortunately, it’s rite of passage.  A rite of passage is something you have to go through in order to achieve a certain status, like an initiation.

Utmost importance

What you thought it was:  Upmost importance.

I wish this one was true.  Upmost just makes more sense.  What’s an ut?  Is there an utleast?  At least you can hazard a guess that upmost means the very most.  I believe ut is just a abbreviation of utter, so utmost is actually, ‘utter most.’  I guess that makes sense.  Fine, English, you win again.

Whet your appetite

What you thought it was:  Wet your appetite.

This one comes from the word whetstone, which is a tool used to sharpen tools.  By whetting your appetite, you’re sharpening your appetite and having your interest in food increased.


So, there you have it.  8 common English mistakes that are tripping most people up.

Don’t forget to also check out our Top 5 Grammar Mistakes, too and hopeful transcribers, have a quick read of What is Transcription and Top 5 Transcription Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them).

Now you’re aware of them, you probably won’t make the same mistakes, will you?


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