But because I’ve been feeling particularly peevish, here’s one I just looked up because I recently heard it again. I keep hearing “wary,” “leery,” and “weary” interchangeably and wanted to make sure I’m using the first two correctly because I wasn’t sure I knew the difference. Turns out that’s because there really isn’t one. The two are considered synonyms for being cautious or careful. So you can be wary OR leery of the salesman when he’s a little shady and you don’t trust him. As a side note, though, I’ve always used “leery” when the meaning expresses a little more suspicion and “wary” when it expresses more caution. So I’m leery when I think he might be dishonest, but I’m wary of salespeople in general. Maybe it’s just me. Feel free to tell me if you think so.
“Weary” probably became a victim in all of this simply by virtue of sounding like a combination of “wary” and “leery.” “Weary,” of course, means tired—so you’d only be weary of the salesman when he’s stayed at your kitchen table for hours and hours, though he could still be perfectly trustworthy.
But the other day when I had been standing at a nursery in almost 100° heat listening to a man who worked for a landscaping company talk endlessly about the need to be weary of certain landscapers, he might have been using the word correctly, after all.
What are your grammatical peeves?