After reading the above title, you must be thinking, ‘That’s wrong!’. That’s because some phrases are being used incorrectly so often by so many people that the incorrect one becomes the norm. This is what happened to this title phrase. People keep saying, ‘You have another thing coming.’ The correct one is actually a part of a larger phrase ‘ If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.
Idioms, phrases and proverbs add colour and nuance to what we say and they also signal our mastery of a language. However, incorrect usage of these sophisticated aspects of a language can expose our knowledge as superficial and shallow and may lead the listener to ignore anything salient we may want to convey.
There are many such phrases used incorrectly. Here are a few:
Incorrect: I could care less.
(Meaning – I don’t care at all.)
Correct: I couldn’t care less.
Incorrect: nip it in the butt
(Meaning – Put an end to something before it has a chance to grow.)
Correct: nip it in the bud
Incorrect: extract revenge
(Meaning – Take revenge.)
Correct: exact revenge
Incorrect: outer body experience
(Intended meaning – Extraordinary experience)
Correct: out-of-body experience
Incorrect: in the mist of
(Meaning – In the middle of something)
Correct: in the midst of
Incorrect: I am giving you leadway.
(Meaning – I am giving you some flexibility.)
Correct: I am giving you leeway.
Sometimes two idioms are combined and scrambled resulting in a completely wrong usage. One such is the idiom that is used to talk about something in the past that cannot be changed: ‘Water over the bridge.’ The correct idiom is ‘Water under the bridge.’ Some compound words too have met with the same fate. There have been instances when ‘feedback’ and ‘input’ were scrambled and intermixed to produce ‘feedput’.
While speaking, these errors may not be avoidable. When writing, at least, a standard online/print dictionary should be referred to confirm the right usage. Some useful websites are-