Language Pet Peeves

We all have our language pet peeves. Mine seem to be getting stronger as I spend even more time reading and writing. I know I’m not alone in this.

I was wasting a few minutes on Twitter the other day when an agent’s post caught my eye. She wrote that the phrase “every fiber of my being” should be stricken from the English language. That phrase has never bothered me particularly (although I do find most usages pretty silly), but I can see how it might make this person irritated.

And it immediately brought to mind my least favorite saying. No, it’s not misuse of the word “literally”, although that makes me want to figuratively slap people. I’m talking about a quote that I’ve heard given as sage advice to young people on many occasions. Are you ready? Here it is…

THE WORST QUOTE EVER: “Pick a job that you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Isn’t that awful? I hate it with every fiber of my being! It makes me want to literally punch whoever said it in the face! And I mean literally!

First of all, it’s blatantly false. There is not one person I can think of, including people with “dream jobs” like professional athletes and movie stars, who has a job they love and never works at it. Secondly, it totally undermines the value and the joy of work. If you pick a job you love, you will work hard every day of your life, and you will love the work. I am lucky to have three “jobs” that I love–mother, teacher, and writer–and every one of them takes a tremendous amount of work. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be the least bit fulfilling.

That’s the end of my rant, but I want to know:

What are your language pet peeves? What are your least favorite sayings, quotes, phrases, grammar or usage errors? My sincere apologies if I’ve included any of them in this post…

5 thoughts on “Language Pet Peeves

  1. I'd never thought about it before, but you are right about that quote. It fails to convey the importance of working at whatever you do.

    You have reminded me of a Thomas Edison quote (which I'll try to remember as accurately as I can): “Most people miss opportunity because it wears overalls and looks like work.”


  2. These days very few people have jobs they love anyway. I don't mind most things people SAY they mind. Adverbs at the start of a sentence or -ing verbs or literally or cliches; I don't really pay attention to that stuff so much. I just hate when someone tries to be clever and creates a sentence that sounds terribly awkward. I can't think of a good example right now but I'm sure in critiques I've marked a few where a sentence just sounds laughably awkward because someone tried to get cute with their thesaurus.


  3. I get annoyed with suddenly in most contexts. Suddenly, someone was at my door. Unless they are a magician and poofed themselves there, they approached the door in the fashion of most people.

    And literally drives me crazy.


  4. I honestly have no grammar pet peeves. But I do hate the saying, “What's good for the goose is good for the gander.” Most people use it to infer women can do what their men do…but the gander is the male!
    (But truthfully, as much as I dislike it, I still use it…I'm metaphor lazy)


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