Imagine you’re in middle school, and you are practicing the torturous art of reading aloud. You come across the word “vehemently.” You say “veHEmently” as you have always said it in your head, since you have only ever read it. The class giggles and you look around confused. Your error, of course, is that you said it wrong. It’s more like “veYAmently.” Your teacher corrects and you carry on with life.
Now imagine the problem was that you have never seen the word written; only heard the spoken one. Do you see a potential for hilarious faux pas? Well, here are some commonly disenchanted phrases that will peg you as an amateur.
Let’s start simple. “Voila!” is an expression for when you have something spectacular to show someone; food, a painting, something you built. You present it and say “Voila!” This is actually a French word that means “Here it is.” In the spirit of capturing this exclamation, people write “Walla!” or “Valah” or “Wuhlah!” and it’s funny, but you immediately recognize a problem. Easy fix, oui?
For All Intents and Purposes
This one is a bit more challenging, mostly because of the way people say it. We tend to say it so quickly. You could be talking about a family member whom is not related to you by blood, but “For all intents and purposes, he’s my uncle.” Instead, we may mistakenly write, “For all intensive purposes” which, if you think about it, completely changes the meaning of the phrase. It changes from what the reader needs to understand your point, to some kind of intense situation? Odd, but fixable.
Could have/ Would have/ Should have
This is probably the biggest problem of these misunderstood phrases. The coupled words have appeared on nearly every book we could ever pick up. The word “have” in this phrase is most often given to be “Of” instead of “have” because in the various American dialects; we say the contraction could’ve which, in fact, sounds like “could of.” This can be easily remedied.
Please comment below with any more you can come up with!