You could care less: Phrases you've been saying wrong Quiz



By: Maria Trimarchi

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you pride yourself on being the one in your group of friends who actually knows how to use the English language? If you are a card-carrying member of the grammar police, then this is the quiz for you. We've put together 35 of the most challenging phrases that many people use incorrectly. Can you get them all right?

Ok, so let's start with the elephant in the room.... could you, or couldn't you, care less? Let's think about it. If you could care less, then you still have some caring to do. If you couldn't care less, then you've reached the depth of your caring. So, if you're following us, the correct phrase is you "couldn't care less," as in you're all out of caring. Easy, right?

Here's another one... is it a "moot" or a "mute" point? Both "moot" and "mute" are actual words, but it's their meanings that help us understand the correct usage of the phrase. The word "mute" means "silent," and the word "moot" means "debatable" or "doubtful." So, the correct phrase is "it's a moot point." Have you been saying it wrong?

If you pride yourself on knowing which of these is correct and which is incorrect, take this quiz to find out if you really know as much as you think you do.

What kind of a world is it out there?

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. (And, as the joke goes, you're wearing Milkbone underwear.)


Her grandfather was recently diagnosed with _____ disease.

Although it's common to hear "old-timer's disease" to describe a person with dementia, there is no such thing. It's Alzheimer's disease, a type of dementia, that's the correct condtion.


Since yesterday's decision, this is now a _____ point.

"Mute" point is becoming common, but the correct idiom is "moot" point.


I'd like to _____ my language skills with a trip to France.

While a mission homes in on its target, you would "hone" your French-speaking skills in Paris.


When you take care of a problem before it can get out of hand, you've nipped it in the _____.

You've nipped it in the bud, as if you were trimming a flowering plant.


They'll always remember that _____ day in June when they met.

They're always remember that fateful day in June when they met.


I _____ care less.

The correct phrase is, "I couldn't care less." If you expand it, "I could not care less," means you care so little about something, there's nowhere to go but up. "I could care less," which is how most of us say it, suggests there's still leeway.


_____ of the bad reviews, I'd still like to see the film.

While "irregardless" may sound correct, it's not really a word. Regardless, people still say it a lot.


My New Year's resolution is to not let my band practice fall by the _____.

Sometimes when you don't do something, it's because it's "fallen by the wayside" (usually because you lose interest).


You can _____ it up to bad luck.

Often misspoken as "chock it up," "chalk it up" is correct.


It'll give you some _____ of mind.

It's "peace of mind" you're looking for, not a piece.


For three days, I waited with _____ breath for the reply.

We wait with bated breath, as the saying goes.


They've given me free _____ over the group's schedule.

Although many of us think it's "reign" with a "g," the correct saying is "free rein."


A lot of new projects will be coming down the _____ this year.

While you might have a project "in the pipline," in this turn of phrase, the new projects will be "coming down the pike" this year.


Someone's who's very eager is said to be _____ at the bit.

This idiom comes from horseracing, so you'd think it'd be "chomping at the bit," like a horse. The expression is, actually, "champing at the bit."


With deft _____ of hand, the magician pulled off the illusion.

It was his practiced "sleight of hand" that paid off.


Applicants will be met on a first-come, ___-___ basis.

"Applicants will be met on a first-come, first-served basis," is correct.


I promised I would help, but she expected me to be at her _____ call.

To take care of someone's immediate requests is to be at their "beck and call."


For all _____ purposes, most eggcorns don't make any sense.

"For all intensive purposes" is a common mistake. But the idiom, which means, for all practical purposes, is, "for all intents and purposes."


Even though the accident caused a lot of damage, he got off _____-free.

When you get away with it, you've gotten off scot-free.


The person you blame for something you've done wrong, accidentally or otherwise, is your what?

That person's your scapegoat.


You've never told anyone about your deep-_____ fear of spiders.

You've never told anyone about your deep-seated, not deep-seeded as many might think, fear of spiders.


If he's perfect for the job, he's a _____-in.

Perfect for the job? He's a shoo-in.


Can we eat soon? I'm having hunger _____.

This one can be tricky! Although you might describe it as a hunger pain, these are actually "pangs."


All 10 for one low price? You've _____ my interest.

Your interest is "piqued," not peaked, peeked nor picked.


Which correctly completes this sentence: You've got another _____ coming.

While many people say, "You've got another thing coming," the correct turn of phrase is "another think."


The tornado is predicted to _____ havoc on the west side of town.

Although it will probably wreck a lot of things, the tornado is predicted to "wreak havoc" on the town.


The extravagent shoes in the storefront window _____ her appetite for Oscar season.

You "wet your whistle," but you don't "wet" your appetite. When something "whets your appetite," though, you're eager to know (or have, etc) more. It sounds similar, but it's not the same.


Because our ideas _____ with each other, we should work together.

When you "jibe" with someone, you're in agreement, or at least compatible.


That boy is the _____ of his grandfather.

This one is tough, and a lot of people say this idiom incorrectly. "Spitting image" is common, but "That boy is the spit and image of his grandfather," is correct.


Tonight we're going to a sneak _____ of that new alien movie.

Having a "sneak peek" of something means you have an early preview.


What is the _____ of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit?

A "statute of limitation" is a law that sets a time limit between the date of a crime, for instance, and how long you're given to initiate legal proceedings.


Clark Kent and Superman are...

Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same. As are Peter Parker and Spiderman. Iron Man and Tony Stark. We could go on ...


The cat spent his day planning how he'll _____ revenge about the empty food bowl.

While it's fun to imagine "extracting" revenge, the cat will be "exacting" his revenge.


She winked and made a lighthearted joke about running away together. But they both knew it was all just _____.

When you're speaking sarcastically, yet lightheartedly, you've said it "tongue-in-cheek."


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