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29 Common Phrases You'll Be Surprised To Know You're Saying Wrong

Let's just play it by year... Oops, I mean play it by ear.

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1. "Play it by year" vs. "Play it by ear."

Sony Pictures

You obviously weren't using your ears when they invented this phrase. Play it by ear means to improvise or deal with a situation as it plays out.

Correct term: "Play it by ear."


6. "No pain, no game" vs. "No pain, no gain."


This one almost makes sense, but not as much sense as the true phrase, which means there is value to hard or perhaps even painful work.

Correct term: "No pain, no gain."

7. "Up and Adam" vs. "Up and at 'em."

We're happy for Adam being up, but the phrase is really a shortened version of up and at them, meaning you're alert and ready to start the day or work.

Correct term: "Up and at 'em."


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

Nothing wrong with your purposes being intensive, but for all intents and purposes this phrase is a catchall, meaning in every practical sense.

Correct term: "For all intents and purposes."

10. "Two peas in a pot" vs. "Two peas in a pod."

Paramount Pictures

As delicious as potted peas sound, this phrase means that two things or people are so similar, they're hard to tell apart.

Correct term: "Two peas in a pod."

12. "Don't take me for granite" vs. "Don't take me for granted."


We promise no one will take you for granite, unless your name is Medusa. The correct phrase means "Don't assume carelessly that something is okay."

Correct term: "Don't take me for granted."


13. "Mute point" vs. "Moot point."


If your point is mute, then no one is hearing it. The correct phrase — moot point — means something that is open to argument, or of little to no relevance.

Correct term: "Moot point."

16. "Scotch-free" vs. "Scot-free."


We love the Scotch (especially the liquid kind), but the correct phrase is scot-free, meaning getting away with something without punishment or consequence.

Correct term: "Scot-free."


18. "Straightened arrow" vs. "Straight and narrow."


The arrow community may beg to differ, but the correct path for this phrase is straight and narrow, meaning honest.

Correct term: "Straight and narrow."

19. "Statue of limitations" vs. "Statute of limitations."

Universal Pictures

Just one letter off, but so wrong. It is set in stone that a statute of limitations is a law that limits the time frame of charging someone with a crime or civil suit.

Correct term: "Statute of limitations."


23. "Ghost is clear" vs. "Coast is clear."

Sony Pictures

Well, ghosts are more opaque than clear anyway. Use the clearly correct phrase, which means you are in no danger of being caught.

Correct term: "Coast is clear."