Literally is frequently used (all too often by teenagers I know) to add emphasis. The problem is literally means “actually, without exaggeration,” so, “That customer was literally foaming at the mouth,” cannot be true without the involvement of rabies or inaccurately applied Scrubbing Bubbles.
The only time using literally makes sense is when you need to indicate what is normally a figurative expression is, this time, truly the case. Saying, “He literally died when he saw the invoice,” only works if the customer did, in fact, pass away moments after seeing the bill.
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My recent post, 30 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Horrible, sparked a flurry of emails requesting more examples.
So here they are. While there are hundreds of incorrectly used words, I’ve picked words commonly used in business settings.
Here we go:
“We anticipate earnings will increase by $1 per share.”
No you don’t. To anticipate means to look ahead and prepare. So you can anticipate increased sales, but only if you are also making preparations to handle that increase in sales; for example, “We added staffing in anticipation of increased sales.”
If you’re estimating or wishful guessing, use estimate or expect instead. Or, if you live where I live, use “reckon.” It’s good enough for…
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