Hyperthetically Speaking

When people hear I’m an editor, the first thing they often assume is that I’m the grammar police. I am not.


I do love a good grammar joke.

While I unfortunately/reflexively think in AP Style and know the difference between “that” and “which,” that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly referring to the AP Stylebook at work or that I always remember that a preposition is something never to end a sentence with.

And I’ve accepted—not excepted—the fact that I will never be able to correctly spell words like definitely on my first or third try. But there are  a few things that do make me lose—not loose—my cool with how language is often used.

Aha! There is one of them!

Lately the word “used” is being replaced by “utilize”—one of those “smart” words people throw into in hoping to sound fancy or amazingly intelligent.

Quick lesson: The definition of utilize implies taking something and using it for an unintended purpose (convert to use.) Meanwhile, the definition of use means employing any old thing to achieve your goal, whether or not you use that any old thing for its intended purpose. So if you are not actually creating an alternate use for something, utilize is the wrong word.

Don’t use it.

With that out of the way, I have to admit that I do have a list of other words that I have personally witnessed the abuse of on multiple occasions, and I don’t feel bad specifically—not pacifically—pointing out these examples.

It’s not me being especially—not expecially—picky, but rather being helpful. Because I can tell you from a professional standpoint that for all intents and purposes—not intensive purposes—if you say/type something incorrectly, there’s a chance that someone could have—not could of—misunderstood what you were trying to say.


So occasionally pointing out to someone that “spelt” is a type of wheat and “spelled” is what they’ve done incorrectly is actually a public service.

Regardless—not irregardless, mind you—I figured I could probably—not prolly—vent my frustrations—not flusterations—here of a couple things I have seen (not saw.)

Hypothetically—not hyperthetically—speaking, let’s say you are engaging in an email conversation with someone and they asked—not axed—you if you had talked to a certain individual about his work ethic—not work ethnic.

A reply of, “He surposedly/supposably logged in five hours on Monday” will appear confusing to the recipient because “surposedly” is not a real word and “supposably,” although a real word that means “able to be supposed,” is not a synonym for “supposedly.”


This really doesn’t have to do with anything, but I thought it was funny.

Anyway, I could go on with another—not nother—example or two, but that would probably just sound too petty. In general, I really couldn’t care less about a lot of these except the misuse of “could care less” vs. “couldn’t care less.” That one just pisses me off.

Plus, I know that sometimes it’s simply a matter of hitting the wrong key on the keyboard, like the time I shared that I was “super busty” instead of “super busy.” (Looks up at the sky, twiddling her thumbs and innocently whistling a tune.)

After all, mistakes happen—hypothetically speaking, of course.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Any flusterations you would like to vent?

48 responses to “Hyperthetically Speaking

  1. I image you probably had a lot of back pain when you were super busty. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

  2. I am mortified that I have been using “utilize” incorrectly; although does that mean I HAVE been utilizing it after all? So very meta it makes my head hurt. “Frusterated” is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

  3. Grammar is like eating your vegetables or going to the gym. It takes effort. You can’t be lazy with writing or speaking. Bad habits are insidous.

    One of the first things I noticed about your blog and your emails was how well written they always came across. You pay attention. That shows.

    Good job with your Tigers. I was worried for you. we’re both in the postseason. Tigers-Braves World Series could happen.

    • Well techinically it’s my job to pay attention, but not in personal emails and things. People are always paranoid that I’m going to send it back with a bunch of syntaxical notes. Umm…no. I’m not that smart and entirely too busty busy. Damn. I did it again.

  4. It’s me, isn’t it? I know it is. Don’t pretend. Anyway, when I was in banking, I remember noticing a lot of the bigwigs (even the ones from head office) using “utilize” at all the corporate meetings. I don’t even thing they realized they were misusing it.

    By the way, why am I only now learning about this super bustyness? This is information that needs to be shared early on.

    • “Utilize” is freaking everywhere. I didn’t even really know the real definition until I looked it up-only that it annoyed me.

      As for the bust issue? It’s a bust. An “unfortunate” typo, to be sure.

  5. Ha! I was way old before I found out it wasn’t intensive purposes – like college aged, I believe. *hides*

  6. Running from Hell with El

    Still grinning. You rock Abby.

  7. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    I don’t pretend to have your level of grammar skills but I’m with you especially on that irregardless. Lots of words get an extra “ir” for no reason. I don’t even understand where it came from.

  8. I’d love to respond to this post but I am super busty. No really. My boobs are blocking the view to my keyboard…

  9. I’m terrible at grammar and have a terrible habit of typing words phonetically, but one thing that drives me nuts is people pronouncing jaguar “jag wire” WHAT ABOUT THAT WORD SAYS JAG WIRE????

    So I know how you feel….

  10. I read this post cuz it was interesting. 😉

  11. I once had a boss who would she she was all “combobulated” about things; another, when she wanted to say something wasn’t complicated would say, “come on, guys, this is brain surgery!”

  12. I enjoyed this post so much. “Could care less” vs “couldn’t care less” baffles me because it’s a matter of meaning: how can anyone get that wrong?! I read a comment on a blog (by another blogger) a few weeks ago: “You cease to amaze me!” I … what? You’re telling someone they just stopped amazing you? Aaaaarrggghhh!!! >.<

  13. I LOVE this post. I am the grammar police, and I have no shame in admitting it. My favourite past-time is going to restaurants and pointing out all the mistakes on their menus. I will judge you if you spell words incorrectly. My husband had to learn the difference between there, their and they’re quite quickly. My latest pet peeve is people who write “wa-la!” instead of voila. It’s like nails down a chalkboard.

    I will admit that I use ‘utilise’ on my blog occasionally. When I worked at my last magazine it was drilled into me to never say utilise, whilst or ‘if…then…’ Maybe I’m just rebelling now? Haha.

    • I judge people for improper grammar, too! My mother found the term “improper grammar” to be hilarious. She imagined a group of old ladies getting rowdy.

  14. When people update their Facebook status, and write ‘should of’, instead of ‘should have’, I feel like crying.

    I’m serious.

  15. I know I’m not perfect, but as someone who writes professionally and for fun, it bugs me to no end when I get texts full of “C U 2Nite!” and “kool” and “what u doin?” and other nonsense. It was cute at first, but now? No.

    I really need to tell my dad to stop texting.

  16. Oh Abby! Thank you for this tutorial.

    And also, I flip out when people use the word “spelt” – or “axed” like, really? C’mon.

  17. I believe that I can correctly use “that” and “which,” which is something that is sometimes hard to do, unless that’s something to which I’m not paying much attention, which is often the case. (grade: C-)

    I just had my mom read your post, because we were having a discussion about the fact that were *are* kind of grammar snobs, even though my grammar often sucks, in the sense that the word “prolly” has snuck into a text or two and I often employ/use/utilize run-on sentences. Plus spell check doesn’t like “snuck,” but I refuse to change it to “sneaked” on the grounds that it’s stupid.

    • Oh, believe me that away from work, I can be a total dialectic disaster at times. In fact, I don’t even know if “dialectic” is a word.

  18. my all time favorite was the time my dude sent me a text that took me a moment to figure out – ‘my sediments exactly’…i laughed for about 20 minutes but didn’t have the heart to correct him as i am a compassionate person who has learned that there are times to just let things go. i do make up words all the time, though, and ‘prolly’ is one of my phoenetic favorites…eeeesh…

  19. I prolly shouldn’t admit this, but when I hear you’re an editor, the first thing I think is how jealous I am and how I want to be an editor too ~cue whiny voice~

    • The grass is always greener. Trust me. It’s about 5 percent writing and 95 percent reminding people to do their job. Again, the grass is always greener. 😉

  20. It’s frowned upon to discuss someone’s work ethnic.

    Mine is lose/loose. It is a rampant problem. I have several friends who use loose for lose and should know better. There’s a cafe near us called “Irregardless” and I refuse to step a foot in there.

  21. Whenever I inadvertently make a grammar mistake, I feel like such a klutz of epic proportions. I usually feel worse about that than most other mistakes. There’s just something about knowing better and failing to utilize that knowledge that drives me insane.

  22. Love this. I, too, am on the grammar police squad. I have a friend who always says “could of, should of, would of”. Drives me so crazy. Then yesterday I received an email with this gem of a sentence, “Where has the time went?” I wanted to rip out my eyeballs.

  23. My sister says “libary.” It makes me nuts!!

  24. I love this post. About 10% (this would be 3 people) of my co-workers use seen/saw correctly and it drives me bonkers. Also, why do people say “I’m not for sure” when they could just say “I’m not sure”? Where do they get this? Aargh!

  25. I am one of those people who audibly corrects people when they misuse words, and I’m pretty sure my husband is the person that hates it the most. I can’t help it though!! But it also reminds me of the Friends episode where Joey says “suposebly” so I use that in reference sometimes, but I think people just assume I’m an idiot when I do.

  26. Facebook photo captions that read “My kids and I” make my blood pressure rise. I am also unreasonably annoyed by interchanging the words “sweater” and “sweatshirt.”

  27. I recently overheard my eight year old correcting the grammar of my six year old. It must be a genetic tendency!

  28. I hate how people take our language for granite.

  29. I was pleased the other day when I was complimented with using you’re correctly. Then I thought, that’s sad….

  30. Wonderful post! It’s generally easy to tell the difference between a typo and bad grammar. I’m certainly guilty of the typos. I agree with Lance that grammar is hard work, but it’s worth it.

    I had to pin your signs. Adorable!

  31. I make errors constantly since I type fast, but not when it is something for work, because I actually edit.

    I can’t stand so many grammar problems, but I think supposably is my least favorite. I also have a friend that says “elts” instead of “else.” Totally grates on my ears. THERE IS NO T IN ELSE, DAMMIT!

  32. “All intensive purposes” makes me crazy!

    I cackled at the grammar joke. I am okay with admitting that.

  33. All of this drives me crazy. Not to say that I don’t make mistakes but there is such a thing as “spell check.” Why people don’t use it, I don’t understand. Texting has been the death knell of grammar. The only punctuation mark that seems to live on is the exclamation point!

  34. I am always amazed that you are always so much on my wave length. I am definitely, and I always toy with defenitly, in the ame camp. I love good grammer, and I admire those who can keep to the spelling road without error, but I certainly can’t. In the famous words of winnie the poo. I have good spelling but it is wobbly spelling

  35. Oh I am so with you. First come first serve? That’s a whole nother thing? And don’t get me started on effect/affect. I draw the nastiest conclusions about bad grammar. I don’t care how nice you are. And when k-ster starts his story with “I seen Mark a the store today” I just want to curl up and block my ears for the rest.

  36. When I hear someone say pacific instead of specific or torlet instead of toilet it pisses me off. Granted I am from Mo, but really trailer park ebonics is unnecessary…

  37. Love this! Poor grammar makes me batty, though now I’m kind of paranoid that I am making loads of unwitting mistakes. Or crap, was I just supposed to say “I unwittingly made mistakes”. Ack! Now I’m officially incapable of making an intelligent blog post comment…

  38. Here’s one: you find your niche, not your nitch. Also, I find it hilarious when angry people write that they are going to loose their s**t !
    I found you via Kelley’s Break Room who I found through Divine Secrets Of A Domestic Diva. Come visit me, sometime.

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s