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9 Common English Phrases That Fool Native Speakers

As a native English speaker, you may know all of the phrases below by heart. But do you know what they actually mean? Many of these phrases can fool even the most experienced English speakers because they sound like what they are supposed to mean but have a different meaning altogether. In this blog post, we will explore 9 of the most common English phrases and their true meanings.

Here are 9 of the most common English phrases and their true meanings.

1. Break a leg!

This is something that native English speakers say to people who are about to perform. It sounds like bad luck, but it’s actually the opposite. People say this as an encouragement or good-luck wish rather than wishing someone would break their leg during their performance.

Example: “You’re going to be great on stage tonight! Break a leg!”

Break-in this case means “to make progress or a breakthrough.” So you are wishing that the person makes progress when they perform by breaking through, which is an achievement. You do not want them to literally break their leg. In some cases, people say “Break a leg” to people in other circumstances, such as when someone is about to go on a first date.

How do you respond if someone says this to you? You can say thank you or just smile and nod your head. This phrase does not require a response from the person who receives it, so don’t feel bad if you don’t know what to say!

2. I could care less

This phrase is often used when someone does not care about something at all. However, the correct phrase to use is “I couldn’t care less.” This is because the word “could” means that there is still a possibility of caring less than you do now, while the word “couldn’t” means that it is impossible for you to care less than you do now.

Example: “I couldn’t care less if she goes out with him or not! It doesn’t matter either way. I have no opinion about them dating each other and don’t even want to know.”

In this example, the person does not care about the other person dating each other. They have no opinion on it and do not even want to know what happens between them. So in this case, “I couldn’t care less” is the correct phrase to use.

3. On accident

This phrase is often used to describe something that happened without the person intending for it to happen. The correct phrase to use is “by accident.” This is because the words “on accident” are redundant, meaning that they mean the same thing.

Example: I spilled my coffee on accident.

In this example, the person spilled their coffee. It happened without them intending for it to happen. So in this case, “by accident” is the correct phrase to use.

4. Sneak peak

This phrase is often used to describe a small preview of something before it’s released. The correct phrase to use is “sneak peek.” This is because the words “peak” and the word “peek” are different in spelling, meaning, and pronunciation.

Example: I got a sneak peek at the new movie coming out next weekend.

In this example, the person got to see a small preview of something before it was released for everyone else. So in this case, “sneak peek” is the correct phrase to use.

5. Pass mustar

This phrase is often used to describe someone who passes or succeeds at something. The correct phrase to use is “pass muster.” This is because the words “mustard” and the word “muster” are different in spelling, meaning, and pronunciation.

Example: I hope that my essay will pass muster with the professor.

In this example, the person is hoping that their essay will be accepted by the professor. So in this case, “pass muster” is the correct phrase to use.

6. nip it in the butt

This phrase is often used to describe when someone stops a problem from happening before it gets worse. The correct phrase to use is “nip it in the bud.” This comes from the saying “kill the weed while it’s still small,” which means that you stop something from growing and getting bigger before it becomes a problem.

Example: I’m going to nip this conflict in the bud before it gets worse and ruins our friendship!

In this example, the person is trying to stop their friend from having an argument with them. So in this case, “nip it in the bud” is the correct phrase to use.

7. wet your appetite

This phrase is often used to describe something that makes you hungry. The correct phrase to use is “whet your appetite.” This comes from the saying, “Whetting one’s appetite means sharpening or stimulating it, not wetting it as inputting liquid on it!” So if someone says they’re “wetting their appetite,” they really mean they are stimulating it.

Example: I can’t wait to eat! The smell of this food is whetting my appetite.

In this example, the person cannot wait to eat because the smell of food is making them hungry. So in this case, “whet your appetite” is the correct phrase to use.

8. For all intensive purposes

This phrase is often used to describe something that is true in most cases. The correct phrase to use is “for all intents and purposes.” This comes from the saying, “Intentions govern purpose; for all intents and purposes, then, the end justifies the means.” So if someone says they are doing something “for all intensive purposes,” they mean that it is true in most cases.

Example: We might as well just leave now for all intents and purposes.

In this example, the person means that it is better to leave now because it is likely that everything will go wrong if they stay. So in this case, “for all intents and purposes” is the correct phrase to use.

9. it’s a mute point

This phrase is often used to describe something that cannot be changed or decided. The correct phrase to use is “it’s a moot point.” This comes from the saying, “Moot points are those which have no bearing on the matter at hand and thus can be dismissed as irrelevant.” So if someone says that something is a “mute point,” they mean that it cannot be changed or decided.

Example: It doesn’t matter what we do now because it’s a moot point.

In this example, the person means that whatever decision is made at this point will not matter. So in this case, “it’s a moot point” is the correct phrase to use.

There are many common phrases that people use when speaking English but they don’t actually know the correct way to say them. This is because of how similar they sound or in some cases, just a simple misuse of words! The next time you hear someone say one of these nine common English phrases, have fun correcting them with their true meaning! And who knows, you might just learn a thing or two in the process!

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