If I were to name the most important thing that separates us from animals, it wouldn’t be opposable thumbs (although that would be terrifying), it would be our elaborate communication system.
Humans have moved beyond the basics – hunger, fear, protecting territory – to be able to express ourselves in subtle, nuanced language. We don’t just grunt that we’re hungry, we whine about specific food cravings. And we don’t bare our teeth to say “Go away,” instead we rationally explain that we don’t care how much another person is craving cookie cake from that place in the mall and don’t they have anything else they could be doing right now.
But, as a nerdy superhero might say, with that linguistic power comes great responsibility. You see, words have meaning. Now sure, meanings can change over time, but there are some expressions that we’re changing to be total nonsense – or worse – highly annoying. Here are my top five choices for expressions that we should really stop using, but for some reason cannot.
Used in a sentence: “Oh my God, I just ate the most epic burrito.”
What that sentence means: “Oh my God, I just ate a long-form poem that was also, strangely, a burrito.” or “Oh my God, I just ate the most heroic burrito of a size that has never been seen before.”
What you should say instead: “Oh my God, I just ate a very large burrito.”
Used in a sentence: “When I heard that , my brain literally exploded.”
What that sentence means: “It is a miracle that I’m talking to you right now because my brain is just a liquidated mass. The inside of my skull looks like the end of Ghostbusters.”
What you should say instead: “When I heard that, I was really surprised but luckily not so surprised that it killed me.”
* I admit to using this all the time, but that’s because I am the most hyperbolic person on the planet.
3. I have to say
Used in a sentence: “I have to say, her shoes didn’t match that purse at all.”
What that sentence means: “I am physically unable to avoid saying this sentence, but her shoes didn’t match her purse. I didn’t want to say that, but I had to.”
What you should say instead: “I want to say her shoes didn’t match her purse at all. I also want to say a whole bunch of other mean stuff because I have low self-esteem.”
2. No offense
Used in a sentence: “No offense, but I think redheaded people are the devil’s work.”
What this sentence means: “There is no offense meant by this statement, it just so happens that the following words are incredibly offensive. Redheads are products of the devil.”
What you should say: “You can’t get mad at me for saying this, but here’s some crazy stuff I think.”
1. Just saying
RANT: I hate this phrase. It is the most passive aggressive expression I’ve ever heard, and I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, aka the capital of passive aggression, for six years. No one is ever just saying anything. END RANT
Used in a sentence: “I’m just saying, we’ve still never seen the birth certificate.”
What that sentence means: “Here’s a casual observation that doesn’t warrant mentioning, but that I’m going to say out loud just for fun. We’ve never seen the birth certificate. Now forget I said that because it was stupid and uninformed and I just said it on a lark.”
What you should say: “I am the worst.”