Common Phrases in English that Even Americans Get Wrong

Not only are English words spelled oddly sometimes, but some phrases are just as odd. Make sure you’re using these common phrases in English correctly.

Even the most experienced English speakers misuse very common phrases.

The English language is dynamic and its pronunciation requires careful training. However, we often misuse these phrases.

If you’re just learning English you should never feel embarrassed for misusing or mispronouncing a lot of common phrases. Here is a list of common phrases in English many people get wrong.

I Couldn’t Care Less

Many people mispronounce this phrase by saying they could care less. This indicates that you do care about the topic of conversation. The correct use, “I couldn’t care less” means you do not care about the topic of conversation one bit.

Nip It In The Bud

This phrase is often misconstrued as “nip it in the butt” by English speakers. The correct usage, “in the bud”, means to stop something before it can begin or grow. When you say you want to nip something in the butt you’re referring to something quite different.

One And The Same

Using this phrase means that two topics of discussion are identical or the same. We misconstrue this as “one in the same” but this phrase carries no meaning at all.

For All Intents and Purposes

This phrase means you’re touching all the bases, considering all possibilities and circumstances. The common misuse of this is “for all intensive purposes.” This implies that you’re very intent on your purpose. The two couldn’t serve more different functions. 

You’ve Got Another Think Coming

English speakers will often say “you’ve got another thing coming.” While this makes sense, it does not relate the same meaning as the original phrase. The correct use of “you’ve got another think coming” means something like if you think one thing is true, you should think again.

A Complete 180

When we want to say we’ve made an enormous and substantial change in our lives we say that we’ve made a complete 180. An 180-degree turn means you end up at the complete opposite of where you began.

We most often confuse this with a 360-degree change. But a 360-degree turn means you’ve ended up in the exact same place where you began, which isn’t much of a change at all.

One Fell Swoop

One fell swoop refers to something happening all at once. The phrase is somewhat uncommon today but means something like “fierce.” We most often confuse this term for “one foul swoop”.


To say we’re unbothered by something we should say that something does not faze us. Instead, many people use the term “phase”. Phase refers to a period of time or stage and as such makes no sense in this setting. 

Mispronouncing Common Phrases In English: You’re Not Alone

If you’re mispronouncing these common phrases in English there’s nothing to feel bad about. The learning process requires us to confront these mistakes and make a correction so that we grow into better English speakers.

If you’re interested in learning more about pronunciation and accent training, contact us today to see how we can help you grow into a better English speaker.


English Pronunciation & Fluency Expert
Annie Ruden M.S.CCC-SLP
CEO | Accent Reduction Trainer
[email protected]

Be Understood. Be Confident.

3 thoughts on “Common Phrases in English that Even Americans Get Wrong

    1. Hi Gustavo,

      This was just an article that we posted to our blog. As you go through the course we will talk about different words and phrases that are commonly pronounced incorrectly. I hope you found this article helpful!

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