English pet peeves

Dear Annie: I considered myself an average student after graduating high school in 1970, and I have been very successful in my 36-year career as an insurance investigator. I have dealt with a wide range of cultures. I feel I’m of average intelligence and probably below average in my English and grammar skills — yet I find it amazing how most destroy the English language in everyday conversation. For instance, the use of the word “everybody.” I usually dismiss any statement beginning with “Everybody,” because about the only time that would apply is when saying that everybody has to breathe to live. At least 99 percent of the time, the mention of “everybody” or “everyone” is wrong.

I also have a problem with the phrases “I’ll be honest with you” and “to tell you the truth.” When a person is talking with you and all of a sudden he says “well, to be honest,” it is like, what has he been doing all this time, lying? Also, I can’t stand it when I ask someone whether she would mind my doing something and she says “yes” when she really means she would not mind.

These things occur in not only person-to-person conversations but also TV and radio commercials. Can you agree with this, or am I really below average and EVERYBODY is actually right? — AAGG in Ohio

Dear AAGG: Do you know there are some people who can’t stand the use of the word “like” as you used it? I say that not to shame you but to point out that while many of us have grammatical pet peeves (mine is the phrase “I could care less”), few, if any, of us have perfect grammar. Keeping this in mind might make conversations more bearable.

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