The English language is old. Like, really old.
It’s old enough that its speakers use a good many idiomatic sayings that were thought up decades or even centuries ago, and that use words people don’t really say much anymore.
That can turn into a problem when those out-of-date words sound like other, much more common words. Especially if the sound-alike word makes a certain sort of sense in the context. Here’s the thing, though: It’s still wrong, even if it seems right.
Take a look at these eight examples of often-misused idioms and be sure to use the right word in your own writing.
Wrong: “She hung in there like a trooper.”
Right: “She hung in there like a trouper.”
Groups of actors and dancers still travel around in troupes today, but not nearly as much as they once did. Far more commonly discussed nowadays are military troops or police troopers. It makes some degree of sense to think that a saying that describes fortitude would refer to a tough cop or soldier, but it’s actually about the “show must go on” mentality of an actor.
Wrong: “Let’s give him free reign.”
Right: “Let’s give him free rein.”