To be sure– I’m not saying these are all cardinal sins of grammar or that my grammar is immaculate (to put it Christianly), but it just so happens these make me cringe.
1. To say the Least
How about you just tell me the appropriate amount, you lazy bastard. If water is boiling, don’t tell me it’s warm to say the least, tell me it’s boiling.
2. Per Se
If I remember my high school Latin correctly, Per se translates to, “through itself”, and means “innately”, or “fundamentally”. It’s proper usage would be something like, “I don’t hate all ugly people per se, but I hate when ugly people sit next to me on airplanes.”. Graduate students at Moron University are taught that adding “per se” to the end of any declarative sentence makes that sentence sound 25% more intelligent. They’ll say, “I don’t think he is lying… per se!” . Such usage is both incorrect and needless- notice I couldn’t even bring myself to italicize the incorrect “per se“? That’s how badly I hate it.
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn….per se”.
3. All I know is…
When you begin a sentence with, “All I know is….”, I will take your words literally and assume you know nothing else. Speaking of which….
This can be butchered two ways- the first is when it’s already clearly believable, as in- “Usually it takes me 20 minutes to get to work, but today it took me literally- literally, 35 minutes with traffic.”- no one was going to ask you if you meant that figuratively, dimwit. Secondly, and more horrifically, is when people use “literally” when it isn’t literal, as in, “my jaw literally hit the floor when I heard the news.”. So you said, “literally” but meant the opposite. Got it. Which reminds me…
5. “Not to interrupt…..” while interrupting
We all hate being interrupted, but saying, “not to interrupt”, cushions the blow about as effectively as if I said, “not to kick you in the nuts….” before I kick you in the nuts. Just be honest and say, “to interrupt…” next time. Better yet, wait your turn to talk.
6. Mind if I ask you a question?
You just did, a-hole. Aaaaand you didn’t ask if you could. So just go ahead and ask your super humble question already.
7. Easier Said Than Done
Can’t we just assume everything is easier to say than to do? If anyone ever heard, “Well that’s easier said than done!”, and thought, “My God, you’re right. I never thought it like that. But, make no mistake…..you are correct. Wow. ” they should be put to sleep.
8. Maybe, maybe not
The word “maybe” implies it may not happen, otherwise the speaker would use the word, “definitely”.
9. …..if you will
This phrase is also popular for Alumni of Moron University to use in meaningless fashion. Unless you are taking a metaphorical leap of word definitions this phrase is unnecessary. While shameless alumni think per se makes sentences sound 25% more intelligent, most morons agree that “…if you will.” adds a mere 10%. Why? B ecause it’s ah, well, annoying, if you will.
And I hope you won’t.
10. Needless to say
When I hear that preface what I really hear is, “Hey, I know how to waste your time- keep listening….”.
11. Not to Mention
That’s funny, you are mentioning something you said you weren’t. Oh wait I didn’t mean ‘funny’, I meant, ‘ignorant’.
My father advised me on this list and suggested I improve the first two paragraphs of the Gettysburg Address with the aforementioned phrases. The improved version appears below.
Literally Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation per se, conceived in liberty, and to say the least dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
All I know is, Now we are engaged in a great civil war, if you will, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure- maybe, maybe not. We are met on a great battle-field of that war, per se. Needless to say, We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, which is easier said than done, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. Not to mention, It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.