The right words that sound wrong

I was listening to someone speaking on TV, and he had said, “I had drank some coffee.” It was an extemporaneous utterance, not a prepared speech, so I gave him a pass. I know it’s drink/drank/drunk, but the general public thinks of “drunk” only as being inebriated.

There are words that are correct that just sound incorrect. It’s swim/swam/swum, but seldom have I heard the word swum. Grammar Girl has, helpfully, described the the difference between lay/laid/laid and lie/lay/lain. Let’s face it: most people who use the word lain, even correctly, are looked at askance.

I think that, unfortunately, “whom” is on the endangered species list. It’s a perfectly good word, but to say, “With whom are you going?” sounds affected. “Who are you going with?” sounds natural. “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for ‘whom’.”

What other legitimate words are on the endangered list?


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