Some of these everyday phrases make the speaker sound unintelligent because they lack originality, some indicate poor grammar, and others just connote mental laziness. But they all share (at least) one common thread: I hate them all.
1. “It is what it is”
Here is what you just said: It is = It is. When was that in dispute? Did someone say, “Hey, it is not what it is.”, or, “It is what it is not.”?
Substitute with: Not making the definition be the exact words of the words being defined.
2. The formula of: “How X was Y??,” How good was that steak?,” “How random was that?”
Save us the stupidity and turn your interrogative sentence into a declarative one: That WAS funny. That steak was good. That was random. If you just truncate, and rearrange the original sentence you are left with stylistically fine, if uninspired, sentence. If a steak is truly great, an event truly random or funny, it would inspire you to actually devote an original thought to it. Such banality actually hurts your case, not enhances it.
3. “I don’t give a rat’s ass”
You don’t give a rat’s ass about what? Linguistic originality? Did you think this whole conversation was a big lead up to my asking, “Do you have any rodent sphincters I can have?”
Substitute with: I don’t care, or just silence.
4. “If someone would have told me a decade ago that in 10 years I’d be doing X, I would NEVER have believed it.”
This assumes that it is a normal conversational convention for people to casually predict the future. If you met someone who said, “In 18 years you’ll drive a yellow sedan that was manufactured in New Mexico.” You would excuse yourself from the conversation.
5. “The dog wants out”
The dog wants what? Out? What does that mean? Either stop being lazy and just say, “The dog wants to go outdoors” or hand it a copy of Out Magazine.
6. “…it does. It really does.”
When a declarative sentence like, “That makes sense”, is followed with the meaningless, “…it does. It really does.” it makes the speaker sound repetitive AT BEST, and unreliable at worst. Whenever I hear a sentence end with that I always think, “Wait, why do they feel obligated to tell me that what they just said is true? The last declarative sentence they said didn’t end with that. So can I believe anything they say that doesn’t end with, ‘it does. it really does?’.”
Substitute with: nothing.
7. “That is really unique.”
“Unique” means, “one of a kind”. Not, “different”, or “unusual.” It means there is only one of them. So if something is one of a kind, it cannot have degrees of one-of-a-kindness- it can’t be VERY one of a kind, a little one of a kind, or pretty much one of a kindish.
Substitute with: “Unique”, “Original” or “One of a kind”.
8. “I could care less”
That means you care. What you MEANT to say means the exact opposite.
Substitute with: “I could not care less”, “I have never cared less about anything”
9. “How do you REALLY feel?”
This is said after someone takes a stand, but maybe with a bit too much conviction. The latent irony is the passionate speaker clearly took a stand and made a statement, whereas the replier of “How do you really feel?” followed your originality and passion with a banal phrase that is linguistically worthless. The illocutionary force of that reply is simply, “I see you are passionate about that.”, which is of no value because that is obvious.
Substitute with: “Say your thang, Doggy!”, “Easy, big tiger”, “Deep Breath” then demonstrating an exaggerated deep breath.
10. “You can’t win for losing.”
After some research I found that the “for” doesn’t mean what it usually means. In this case it is used like, “I exercise, for I like a healthy body.”. So all that sentence says is, “You cannot win because you are losing.” It just says, you are not doing A because you are doing the opposite of A. Well, right. That’s like someone asking, “Why are you fat?” and you answering, “Because I am not skinny.”. “You can’t win for losing” is a sentence without substance.
11. “I am NOT a happy camper.”
What is this 20 questions? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to tell me what you ARE instead of what you are NOT? All you’ve done is eliminate one of the innumerable possible nouns you could possibly be, which is extremely abstract, if you think deeply about it. If you kick me in the nuts I will say something like, “I am angry.” instead of, “I’m not a Triceratops. I am not a baby white rhino. I’m not a combustion engine. I’m not a primitive cave drawing, nor am I a Rubenesque woman,…” etc.
Substitute with: Saying what you are and saving everyone some time.
Quick vocabulary test: What does “Ephemeral” mean? It means ephemeral. I’m surprised you didn’t know that, but I could care less. I really could. I really could.But you can’t win for losing- and that is sort of unique, but not very- it is what it is. I guess that makes you an unhappy camper and if you would’ve told me in 2001 that I wouldn’t be a happy camper in 2011 I’d say, “Wow, tell me what you REALLY think!!! And I don’t give a rat’s ass!”- how funny would that have been?!!