Here’s one of those little grammar mistakes that nearly everyone makes.
It involves the words nauseous and nauseated. The two words are not, as many seem to believe, interchangeable. Each has its own meaning and using the wrong one will convey something different from what you truly mean in most cases.
It’s one of the grammar mistakes nearly everyone makes because of the dictionary: yes, that little book that define words wasn’t really intended to be a usage manual, but rather to provide insight into what people mean when they say something. That’s why “irregardless,” which isn’t a proper word because it’s a double negative that’s always used incorrectly, is in the dictionary.
Check your dictionary, and you’ll likely find that one of the secondary definitions listed for nauseous will be nauseated.
Here’s what they’re supposed to mean:
NAUSEOUS: Something that causes one to feel sick, as though they might vomit.
NAUSEATED: The feeling of sickness that one might vomit.
So why does it matter that people are likely to say, “I feel nauseous” when they mean, “I feel nauseated”?
If someone says they feel nauseous, they’re actually (and likely unintentionally) saying that they fear that they’re making everyone else sick. Depending on the person, of course, they may be correct.
If someone says they feel nauseated, however, you should really back out of their way: if they’re smart enough to know which word is the correct one, they’re likely smart enough to know that vomiting is a real possibility.
No one wants to be in the path of that…unless they want to be “nauseous.”