Long ago as a slip of a girl, I embarked on my first backpacking trip. This was a family affair, of course, and during our drive to the wilderness we began cracking jokes about bears. This carried on for some time, prompting me to gush “I have bear on the brain!”
One of my kin seized the opportunity to retort “You bearly have a brain!”
That might be when my affection for puns began….
Despite its Germanic roots, English has freely borrowed from other languages over the course of its development. This makes it a bit of a bear to speak, sometimes even for those of us who were born into it. And as idiom rich as we are, there is plenty of opportunity to mishear things and render them later incorrectly.
Let me be the first to confess I’ve committed my share of grammatical sins over the course of my life, so some mistaken usages are less offensive. For instance, why in English is it correct to say “on purpose” but it is only by accident that folks say “on accident”?
Contractions have also been culprits in contributing to misunderstanding. “Could have” and “should have” are often spoken as “could’ve” and “should’ve”, which can then get processed as “could of” and “should of”, which are wrong.
Homophones can also cause trouble. While it still sounds the same when something piques your interest, writing that it peaked your interest is a no-no.
One misusage that can get my eyelid to start twitching, however, is when I hear the statement “I could care less.” Maybe it’s a sign of apathy, but the speakers have obviously not examined the meaning those words are supposed to convey. If they’re capable of caring less, then the object of that statement is not as low as you can go.
Well, it’s probably a good time to nip this monologue in the butt (bud). But if you think there aren’t more pitfalls to watch out for, you got another thing (think) coming. For all intensive (intents and) purposes, beware of incorrect usage that might raise accusations one bearly has a brain….