Words You Should Never Use
Credit: CDC via Wikimedia Commons

The English language is a living and evolving language as are all languages. We do not speak or write the same way as the Puritans that came over from England. And if you look back through the history of the English language, it is very difficult to read some of the classics by Shakespeare and others that have not been “modernized”.

However, sometimes language evolves in nonsensical and annoying ways. Here are a few of the most annoying phrases being used today in American English.

"I'll Be Honest With You"

When you qualify something you are about to say with this annoying phrase, think about what you are implying. Does that mean that every time you don’t say it, you are not being honest with me?

Shouldn’t everyone assume that everything you say is the truth?

Here is the deal that you can make with the “I’ll be honest with you” crowd.

Tell them that you like them, and you trust them and therefore you will assume that everything they are telling you is the truth. However, at some future date, if that changes, and you no longer find them credible, you will let them know so that they can ease your mind going forward with their assurances that they are going to be truthful with you with virtually every point they try to make.

"With All Due Respect"

If someone ever says this before anything they are about to say, you should expect that something fairly disrespectful is about to follow.

You are allowed to disagree with someone without patronizing them. While it might appear to be the polite way to disagree or state your differing opinion, it actually has an air of condescension to it.  In a civilized conversation, it is assumed that you respect the other person’s opinion.  While that may not be the case with some people, qualifying your opinion in this matter does not add weight to your argument. It is dismissive and frankly, sounds arrogant.

"At the End of the Day"

Every time I hear someone say this I want to punch them in the face. When and how did the 7 Words or Phrases You Should Never Use in ConversationCredit: Office of Senator John Edwards via Wikimedia Commonsend of the day become so important and why does or would it matter to any topic?

Politics and the English Language

The first time I ever heard this with any frequency was in 1998 during the Monica Lewinsky drama. Politician after politician was going on shows saying this over and over again. There must have been a memo that went out that year in Washington that declared this as the new “it” phrase.

Well, at the end of the day, it is just the end of another day. It has no effect or relevance on any outcome or opinion so please stop saying it. I would rather hear someone say “when all is said and done” that this nonsense.

"Kick the Can Down the Road"

Speaking of “it” phrases in Washington, this is another one that has been popular over the last couple of years when discussing the entitlement meltdown that is going to happen in the coming decades.

Once again, politicians love this phrase to describe putting off dealing with any problem.

Where is this can and what does it have to do with anything? Please tell me so that I can pick it up and put it in the recycle bin.

"I Could Care Less"

I must admit, this is the one I find most annoying. If you do not know what is wrong with this one from reading that header, then you are probably one of the offenders.

I hear it on tv talk shows, from commentators and even in scripted television shows as well.

Saying this is an attempt to show that you do not care about a certain issue. However, if you say it that way, you are leaving out one important word that makes the point you are trying to make.

If you are trying to show utter contempt for an issue, you should say “I could NOT care less.” That implies that this annoying thing is at the bottom of your “care” list.

If you say “I could care less”, you are not making the point you are trying to make because if you could care less, then why not go ahead and care less. Saying you could do it implies that you have not reached that ultimate point of disgust you are trying to convey.

Practical English Usage
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Beginning Any Answer to a Question with .... So..

Several years ago, I noticed a very annoying habit that was occurring with virtually every guest that was on the CNBC business channel during the day.

Well educated people from the investment community were beginning almost everything they said with “So….”

If you know anything about Wall Street, you probably understand that a lot of the people that work there and in Manhattan are from the same general area and went to the same schools in the northeast. Sure, there are others that break in, but by and large, it is a clique of people that went to school together, had relatives at firms, who in turn hire family, who in turn hire their friends from college.  Yes, I am generalizing a bit, but do not underestimate how the people in the top universities take care of each other. It is how the game is played.

My point is, there must have been some class in the universities, because nearly everyone was starting every answer with “So….”

There is an appropriate way to use the word, such as “I was going to the store, so I decided to get some gas while I was out.”

Here is an annoying way to use the word.

Question: “How did Apple’s 4th quarter results look and what is your firm’s rating on the stock going forward?”

Answer: “So…. When we looked at the data….”

While it might not seem like a big deal when reading it, to see well-educated people using it time and time again, it becomes really becomes annoying.

Using Absolutely Instead of Yes

Words You Should Never UseCredit: CDC via Wikimedia CommonsAt some point in the last decade or maybe further back, the word absolutely has become synonymous with saying “yes”. How did this happen?

Question: Did you buy a new car?

Answer: Absolutely

What does that have to do with affirming you bought a car?

I hear it all the time. Again, well educated people adopting this as the affirmative. Let me put this another way.

The definition of absolutely is “with no qualification, restriction, or limitation.” Some of the synonyms are totally and completely. So imagine this scenario.

Question: Did you buy a new car?

Answer: Totally

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, so does absolutely.


So, I’ll be honest with you. At the end of the day you can kick the can down the road on the way you speak because you could care less. Do words matter? Absolutely. But with all due respect, I would suggest that you remember what you read here if you want people to take you seriously.