Have you ever told someone that you literally died from embarrassment? Most likely – and you’re not alone. However, this phrase happens to be incorrect English.
Colloquial English is littered with misused phrases and words that, in the wrong setting, can make extremely smart people seem very dumb. Unfortunately these words are often used in the context of trying to sound intelligent or knowledgeable about a subject.
For ESL learners, perhaps nothing is more embarrassing for than being called out on improper English when they are trying to make a good impression – especially in the workplace.
For those looking to improve their business English, knowing to avoid commonly misused words and phrases is a must to maintain a good reputation at work.
So what are some of the more commonly misused words in English to immediately remove from your vocabulary?
We’ve listed ten reputation killers below!
Remove these 10 Commonly Misused Words and Phrases
From Your Business English Vocabulary ASAP!
- “Literally” – As far as we can tell, there is no record of anyone “literally” dying from embarrassment.
Unfortunately this word, synonymous with actually, really, and true, is often used to describe something fictitious or hyperbolic. It is often associated with slang used by teenagers, and should be removed from your casual business English lexicon (unless of course you are describing something that really happened).
- “For all intensive purposes” – This is a very common mistake, and while it is very close to the proper phrase: “For all intents and purposes” (which means in every practical sense), it is incorrect. Using it in a business setting will likely result in you being corrected, so note the proper phrase now!
- “Begs the question” – This phrase is often used incorrectly to mean “to raise a question” about something. In fact, it means that something can already be assumed based on what has been stated.
- Principle vs. Principal – This is an issue commonly found in business writing. Though these two words look extremely similar, the first is a foundation for a belief system, and the second is the head of a school.
While your readers will understand what you’re saying, it still doesn’t make the best impression – so make sure you proofread your emails from now on!
- “Appraised” – This is a word used to describe determining the value of something. It is often misused to mean informing someone of something. Remember this the next time you go to “appraise” your colleague.
- “Disinterested” – Looking at this word it’s easy to see why you would automatically assume it means to not be interested in something, your 8am team meetings for example. However, it in fact means to be “unbiased”.
- “Nonplussed” – If you are nonplussed at that 8am team meeting you are in shock, not bored.
- “Depreciate” – A common term in business English, depreciate indicates an object decreasing in value. It does not, as you might assume, mean to deprecate someone.
- “Irregardless” – This word is actually not a word, so if it is indeed part of your business English vocabulary remove it immediately. What it is, is a combination of two different words – irrespective and regardless.
You may choose either of those words to replace “irregardless” in your vocabulary.
- “Practicable” – Though this word may sound a lot like practical, that is not in fact what it means. You should use this word to describe something that is easily put into place (or practice).
Improving Your Business English Vocabulary To Avoid Misused Words and Phrases
Nobody likes being corrected or called out on their English, especially not when it’s their second language, and especially not when they’re at work.
Unfortunately, using (and misusing) words and phrases is often times the only way you learn what is correct.
For those looking to improve their business English outside of the workplace, a Business English Class is a great option. Not only do they help ESL speakers learn more about the standard professional practices of U.S. businesses, they also provide a relaxed and safe space to practice, learn, and of course make mistakes.
Language Connections offers an 8 week, Business English Program in Boston to help non-native speakers perfect their English language skills. Classes are taught by native English speaking professionals, and are small to help encourage one-on-one time between students and teachers.
So, instead of literally dying the next time you make a mistake, start perfecting your English usage through a Business English course!
Register for our next Business English Course to improve your professional communication and expand your business English vocabulary.
For more information contact our Language Training Department:
Phone: (617) 277-1990