The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Words that aren’t Words

I’ve written several posts before out words that are easily confused with other words, words that are often misspelled, and other spelling slip-ups. So to add to that list, here are three words that I hear a lot in conversation – and often see written, as well – that are commonly used, but aren’t actually real words at all.

Supposably – The word you’re looking for is SUPPOSEDLY. It’s true that in English, a D and a B can often be misheard for one another, especially if the speaker mumbles or talks quickly. But supposably seems to have caught on to such a degree that I felt the need to let people know that what they’re hearing from others isn’t necessarily correct.

Irregardless – The word you’re looking for is REGARDLESS. Example sentence: “I expect you to be at work on time, regardless of the fact that your car is in the shop.” I often see (or hear) “irregardless of the fact that your car is in the shop.” Sticking the –ir prefix on a word has some basis, for sure. A word like “rational” can be turned into its opposite by adding the prefix to make “irrational.” However, “regardless” doesn’t really have a direct opposite, so adding the –ir to the beginning just turns it into a non-word.

Conversate – The word you’re looking for is CONVERSE. It means to talk, chat, or have a conversation. Turning the word “conversation” into a verb by adding the suffix of –ate turns it into one of those non-words. English already has a verb form of conversation – it’s converse.

 

Yes, English is a living language, so new words are always being created and added to our language. And it’s a well-known fact that English is one of the more confusing languages to learn because of all the exceptions to the rules and so forth. But hopefully this short guide will help you with some of the more commonly misused words.

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2 thoughts on “The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Words that aren’t Words

  1. Fascinating! “Irregardless” is one I see (written) and hear often on this side of the 49th, too, but I can’t really recall encountering the others (at least not in a context that stuck in my memory). You’ve got me thinking if we have other “words that aren’t actually words” up here that perhaps aren’t common in the States. I’ll get back to you if any jump out at me.

    ♥ Jessica

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    • I’m sure every country and even region has its “words that aren’t words.” Some eventually become regional slang, I’m sure, but things like “irregardless” is just wrong no matter how you slice it. 😛 Please do share if you find any words!

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