As I left the doctor’s office, I heard the scheduler saying, “I was calling to ask you….” Was calling? I thought. Aren’t you calling right now? Shouldn’t that be “I am calling?” So that launched me into thinking about expressions that we used that are less than accurate. Working with international students and answering their questions about English has heightened my awareness of how casually we misspeak and yet are clearly understood.
Being understood is the point, so what’s the problem? No problem. I simply want to point out some errors in speaking that are totally acceptable in the United States. No grammar issue here—just sloppy English.
A common expression I hear from myself is similar: “I thought you’d like to see this.” Do I no longer think it? Shouldn’t I say, “I think you’d like to see this”?
Or here’s another one: “I will go and see the minister.” Some may argue with me, but I think we should say, “I will go to see the minister.”
My Egyptian friend Mohamed was confused when someone said, “Come over around 8,” or something like that. He understands over in many ways, but not that way. Perhaps we should say, “Come to my house around 8,” instead.
And why do we add up to so many words? Why do we say we need to “write up a report”? Why not just write it? Why do we say it’s “clouding up”? Or “clearing up”? We have enough legitimate uses of up without adding more. Here’s a page someone wrote About the Word UP. (You may have to click on the document one more time after clicking here.)
I’m just thinking about how to be more direct and accurate in our language. What are some more examples of sloppy English that’s very accepted?