I have heard many erudite commentators/writers using some common but imprecise language.

1. One of the most common examples is “try and” do something. In this case, the and is the problem

a. “Try and” means that the person will accomplish what they are trying. Most times that this phrase is used, the outcome is dependent on factors beyond the triers control so accomplishment is not certain.

b. If you are not in full control and/or are somewhat unsure if your results will be as stated, the phrase is “try to” do the something

A recent example of the misuse was a person saying that there was a funding arrangement to try and flood proof a town located in a flood plane. Anyone working at predicting and designing such works knows nature can always win. The proper phrasing would be to try to flood proof the town

2. Another example is “I promise”. This phrase crops up in a lot of dramatic writing and thus is making its way in to common usage. It is again improper use of a word.

a. A promise (an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen) is a very powerful undertaking. It should not be used when implying “I will do my best”.

b. You can promise to do your best, but the outright naked promise is most often beyond reach.

A common occurrence is “you’re going to be just fine, I promise”. This is usually heard where there is an accident and from a person who isn’t either informed enough, trained well enough or even part of the team administering assistance to make that judgement.

These are the only two that come to mind as I write this. When I come across/recollect others, there will be a future posts.

The Plaidneck