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.

Not entitled

Dear Annie: My wife and I had a fairly active and adventurous sex life for the first few years of our marriage. We've now been married for 10 years, and for the past several years, things have gotten pretty dull. Though we're still intimate regularly, it's monotonous. She seems fine with that. I've asked her to do certain things (that we used to do), but she's unwilling. I never try to force her, but I am feeling hurt and at a loss as to why she's changed. I am in shape and take care of my body. What could be the problem? -- Rejected

Dear Rejected: First, stop taking this as a personal rejection. It puts you in a place of self-pity and her in a place of defensiveness -- an impossible angle from which to communicate. Second, accept that you're not entitled to anything. Her not wanting to do something is reason enough. Preferences change, and just because she liked something 10 years ago doesn't mean she has to like it now.

Keeping all that in mind, have you tried actually asking her what's up? I mean really asking, not complaining. If not, that's a good next step. Do so at a neutral time, outside the bedroom. At the end of the day, what matters is that you love each other and communicate.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com

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