There are some phrases that just don’t make sense in the context of the words being used. There are many such phrases too that we hear every day. It isn’t just a case of one word being used in place of another, it is a case of completely wrong use of a word in order to make it sound more official only to end up with an error in the syntax of the sentence. Consider the following:
I – for my sins – am a Newcastle United supporter. Ahead of Toon’s game against Stoke City last weekend, the officials at Stoke City offered advice about what fans may or may not bring to the stadium. In this case, they were concerned about the use of fireworks. This is how the letter ended:
These systems are to ensure the safety of all people attending matches and Stoke City FC encourage all supporters to arrive early for the fixture as a slight delay at the turnstiles may be inevitable.
Ummm, “may be inevitable”? A delay to kick off is either inevitable or it isn’t. Inevitable is defined as: Impossible to avoid or prevent. by The Free Dictionary with “impossible” being the operative word.
Consider this one too:
My parents at the time were living in London
Great! So you’ve got different parents from the ones you had then? Do you mean “At that time my parents were living in London”?
Now what about the “politician speak” of:
This is a very unique situation
No it isn’t. As with “inevitable” above, it is either unique or it isn’t. Unique is defined as: Being the only one of its kind. You either come first in a race or you don’t. You can’t come “very first”.
Which leads me on to:
She’s very pregnant
Very similar, she is either pregnant or she isn’t. What people mean is that she is heavily pregnant, i.e. far gone and due to give birth soon. If she can’t be slightly pregnant, then she can’t be very pregnant.
And the very irritating:
I could care less
Oh really? How much less could you care? The proper phrase is “I couldn’t care less” because it is impossible to care less than you already do!
What phrases such as the above really annoys you?