Misused Words and Phrases That Make You Sound Unprofessional

There are few worse feelings than realizing you've been pronouncing a word wrong or misusing a phrase since before you can remember.

All you're left with are questions: how many people noticed and didn't say anything? Is my incorrect pronunciation of quinoa why the cashier at SweetGreen always smirks at me? Has the emphasis I was incorrectly putting on the "I" sound in cumin negatively affected my love life?

It's even worse when the linguistic faux pas happens at work. How can you be taken seriously in a professional environment if you're putting, "for all intensive purposes" in emails? How do you sleep at night knowing that your boss heard you pronounce both the L's in tortilla? To avoid more instances of this kind of inner turmoil, we've compiled a list of some of the most common language mistakes that make you sound unprofessional.

"Precede" and "Proceed"

This is a common mix up because when said out loud; these two words are difficult to distinguish from one another. If you're sending an email telling someone you'd like to go forward with the deal; you'd like to "proceed." If you are going to speak before someone in a meeting, you will "precede" them.

"One in the same" and "One and the same"

The phrase you're probably trying to use is "one and the same," as in when you and your coworker realize you've both been corresponding with the same client, and that client is "one and the same." "One in the same" isn't really a sensical phrase.

"Irregardless" and "Regardless"

All you need to remember to avoid this classic and cringey mistake is that irregardless is simply never an option. YES I KNOW it's in the dictionary, but so is YOLO. Don't listen to the dictionary.

"For all intensive purposes" vs. "For all intents and purposes"

Your purposes are likely not intense, and really what you're referring to is the intention and the purpose with which you're going forward.

"Tongue in cheek" vs. "Tongue and cheek"

Have you ever looked over at a friend during a funny situation that would be inappropriate to laugh at? You know how you kind of put your tongue in your cheek to keep from laughing? Keep that situation in mind and remember that when you mean something is sarcastic or ironic, you mean tongue in cheek.

"Doing good" vs. "Doing well"

While when you think of how you're doing, you may think of words like "stressed" or "despondent," what you probably say out loud is that you're doing "well." Never good. Well.


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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