You Sound Unprofessional

It’s easy to fall into language traps that are all around us.

And, of course, there’s something to be said for the

ever-changing nature of common terms and phrases.

After all, the dictionary is an ever-evolving entity that adds

phrases and words all the time to reflect common usage.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t at least strive for impeccable

writes by understanding the best – or most commonly

accepted – ways of saying certain words and phrases.

Little tweaks in your language can help convey that you

understand exactly what phrase you’re saying and are using it


Plus, if you’re writing an email or typing a response –

let’s be honest, so much communication that happens these

days happens online – you’ll stay on top of using the right

spelling and phrasing. And, hopefully, understanding the full

context of where these common phrases come from.

Keep in mind, too, that in some of these common phrases you

won’t be able to hear the difference between the so-called

“right” and “wrong” versions. And sometimes the “wrong” way

to say something still has a perfectly legitimate meaning,

even if it’s not the feeling you’re going for in that conversation.

Any advantage you can give yourself in the professional world,

including use of proper language and phrases, can be really

beneficial in your life and career.

There’s a good chance you already know some of these,

especially if you’re the type of person who is interested in

language. But in case you want a quick refresher, here you go.


  1. Intensive indicates that something is powerful and


If you’re discussing an intensive purpose, you’re simply

indicating one focused purpose, or perhaps a few very

focused purposes. The more common phrases, for all

intents and purposes, indicates that something is coming

from more or less all important angles or opinions.

So for all intents and purposes, all intensive purposes is

a usually the wrong thing to say.


  1. I could care less and I could not care less – This is an

extremely commonly misused phrase. While most people

love to throw out that they “could care less” in an attempt

to show how little they care about an issue, they’re

actually communicating the opposite of the usual

phrase’s intention. When you stop to think about what

you’re saying, “could care less” means you not only care,

but you care enough that you would have the ability to

care less if you wanted to. If you’re trying to convey

apathy, saying “I couldn’t care less” is much more



  1. One in the same and One and the same

When you and a friend are discussing two different

instances that you realize happened with the same

person, you’re discussing one and the same person.

It’s hard to determine what one in the same thing might

mean, since “one” is a noun yet “the same” isn’t exactly

a specific location for that noun to go.


  1. On accident vs By accident

When something happens by accident, nobody saw it

coming. It was a happenstance instance. But when

something happens on an accident, it means that

whatever went down actually went down on top of an

already existing accident. And, in reality, that’s likely

not what you were trying to say. So try not to say

on accident by accident when you’re trying to describe a

mistake, since that will make it a double whoopsie.

Happy writing, ….



Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Enterprise

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