The English language has come to be the most diffused language on earth. It is followed closely only by the Mandarin language, spoken mainly in China within the landmass of the nation of China. The universality of the English Language has made it be recommended in various examinations and institutions. But little do we know that even in our day to day speaking of the language, both students and teachers, we make a lot of common mistakes in English. Not to talk of professional examinations.
Common Mistakes Students Make in English Language
Wrong I have visited Niagara Falls last weekend. Right I visited Niagara Falls last weekend.
Wrong The woman which works here is from Japan. Right The woman who works here is from Japan.
Wrong She’s married with a dentist. Right She’s married to a dentist.
Wrong She was boring in the class. Right She was bored in the class.
Wrong I must to call him immediately. Right I must call him immediately.
Wrong Every students like the teacher. Right Every student likes the teacher.
Wrong Although it was raining, but we had the picnic. Right Although it was raining, we had the picnic.
Wrong I enjoyed from the movie. Right I enjoyed the movie.
Wrong I look forward to meet you. Right I look forward to meeting you.
Wrong I like very much ice cream. Right I like ice cream very much.
Wrong She can to drive. Right She can drive.
Wrong Where I can find a bank? Right Where can I find a bank?
Wrong I live in United States. Right I live in the United States.
Wrong When I will arrive, I will call you. Right When I arrive, I will call you.
Wrong I’ve been here since three months. Right I’ve been here for three months.
Wrong My boyfriend has got a new work. Right My boyfriend has got a new job. (or just “has a new job”)
Wrong She doesn’t listen me. Right She doesn’t listen to me.
Wrong You speak English good. Right You speak English well.
Wrong The police is coming. Right The police are coming.
Wrong The house isn’t enough big. Right The house isn’t big enough.
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Common Grammar Mistakes Students Make in English
1. It’s or Its
Example Mistake: The spider spun it’s web. Its a very beautiful web.
Tip: “Its,” without an apostrophe, is the possessive version of a pronoun. In the above example, we should use the possessive “its” to talk about the spider’s web, because the web belongs to the spider.
“It’s,” with an apostrophe, is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” When talking about the beauty of the web, we’re saying that it is a very beautiful web. Therefore, we should use the contraction “it’s” instead of “its.”
So, if you’re not sure which spelling to use—” it’s” or “its”—try adding “it is” or “it has” to the sentence. If neither of those phrases works, then its is the word you’re looking for. For example, “the spider spun it is web” and “the spider spun it has web” do not make any sense. That’s why you should say “the spider spun its web.”
Correction: The spider spun its web. It’s a very beautiful web.
2. Subject-verb Agreement
Example Mistake: The list of items are on the desk.
Tip: In the above sentence, the list of items is one singular list. Therefore, we should not use “are.” We should use “is.”
Correction: The list of items is on the desk.
3. Gone or Went
Example Mistake: She had already went to the bathroom before they got in the car.
Tip: If you aren’t sure whether to use “gone” or “went,” remember that “gone” always needs an auxiliary verb before it. Auxiliary verbs include: has, have, had, is, am, are, was, were, be.
“Went” can’t have an auxiliary verb before it.
In the sentence above, we used “went” even though the auxiliary verb “had” is also present. Since the word “had” is there, we should use “gone” instead of “went.”
Correction: She had already gone to the bathroom before they got in the car.
4. Watch, Look, See
Example Mistake: Stop watching my private journal. / I look at the snow falling. / I don’t play tennis, but I look at them playing every day.
Tip: “See,” “look” and “watch” are often confused in meaning. However, they should be used in different situations. The difference between the three verbs can be explained in the following way:
- Look — to look at something directly.
- See — to see something that comes into our sight that we weren’t looking for.
- Watch — to look at something carefully, usually at something that’s moving.
So, we can “see” something even if we don’t want to, but we can only “look at” something on purpose.
Correction: Stop looking at my private journal. / I watch the snow falling. / I don’t play tennis, but I see themplayingevery day.
5. Pronoun Misplacement
Example Mistake: Take a deep breath through your nose and hold it.
Tip: The singular pronoun in the sentence should stand in for nouns, but here it’s unclear which noun it’s standing in for. The singular noun closest to the word “it” is “nose,” so it seems that “hold it” means to hold your nose. Instead, we want someone to hold their breath—not their nose.
When we use pronouns properly, we must easily understand which single noun the pronoun stands for. Make sure to be very clear. If it’s unclear, don’t use the pronoun or change the sentence!
Correction: Take a breath through your nose and hold your breath.
6. Future Tense
Example Mistake: I will be going to the dance party yesterday.
Tip: The future tense is being used to talk about the wrong time in the sentence above, since the sentence is talking about something that happened in the past, yesterday. You should only use the future tense when something has not happened yet, but it’s going to happen in the future.
Correction: I will be going to the dance party tomorrow.
7. Literally or Figuratively
Example Mistake: I’m literally melting because it’s so hot. / Figuratively speaking, it’s 100 degrees out here.
Tip: This is a mistake because “literally” means “actually” or “really,” and “figuratively” means not real. “Figuratively” is used to exaggerate, or enlarge the meaning of something.
Correction: Figuratively speaking, I’mmelting because it’s so hot. / It’s literally 100 degrees out here.
8. Loan or Borrow
Example Mistake: Can you borrow me that book? You can loan me my notes.
Tip: The listener may be confused since “loan” means “to give” and “borrow” means “to take.” It’s simple memorization that’s required to get the correct meaning.
For example, “borrow me that book” means “take me that book” in the above example. Where do you want the listener to take the book? That isn’t what you meant to say!
Instead, you would like to use the book, so you want someone to give it to you.
Correction: Can you loan me that book? You can borrow my notes.
9. Casual or Formal
Example Mistake: (At job interview) “Hey, what’s up?”
Tip: Know your audience! Casual talk is for friends, not your boss. This isn’t formal, it’s slang. It can even be considered inappropriate or rude. To speak more formally in English, you should avoid contractions (say “how is” instead of “how’s”) and try to be more polite.
Correction: “Hello, how is everything going?”
10. Since or For
Example Mistake: I have known him for always. I saw him since last year.
Tip: You use “for” if you don’t have to calculate the period of time, because the amount of time is indicated in the sentence already. You use “since” if you have to calculate the period of time, because you only have the starting point.
Correction: I have lived here for two months. (You don’t have to calculate, you know the period is “two months.” ) / I have lived here since 1975. (You have to calculate now. If you came in 1975—the starting point—and now it’s 2016.)
11. Academic English or Casual Texting Language
Example Mistake: (In an academic paper) If u want to know my opinion tho, IDK who should be president.
Tip: Try to break the habit of using text language to communicate your ideas. Write everything out completely. This text style is inappropriate language to use for academic purposes. Slang words like “IDK” (which stands for “I don’t know”) are good for conversation and texting only.
Correction: If you want to know my opinion, I do not know who should be president.
Example Mistake: (in a business letter) Dear Mrs. Jones: I am still interested in the job and want to thank you for the interview! I hope you will consider me for the following programs, A, B and C.
Tip: Be sure you understand the purpose for your punctuation.
In the example above, when you address Mrs. Jones, you should only include a comma.
Colons (:) are used when you want to make a list of something, and usually not when you’re addressing someone.
The exclamation point may be viewed as unprofessional. Often, they’re used to illustrate strong emotion, which is something a potential employer might not care for.
Correction: Dear Mrs. Jones, I am still interested in the job, and I wanted to thank you for the interview. I hope you will consider me for the following programs: A, B and C.
13. Run-on Sentences
Example Mistake: I am a woman and I am a good mother and I am an office worker.
Tip: If you can’t say it in one breath, you shouldn’t write it like that either. A run-on is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences) are joined without appropriate punctuation. The example is missing a period after “woman,” and the example should contain two separate sentences.
Correction: I am a woman. I am a good mother and an office worker.
Example Mistake: A womans hat was left on the bus. / Two dogs use the dish. It is the dogs’s dish.
Tip: Apostrophes indicate that a noun owns something. There are no apostrophes in the first sentence, even though you’re talking about the hat which is owned by the woman.
In the second sentence, there is more than one dog, but the apostrophe is not used correctly. Singular nouns will always add ‘s when you’re indicating possession, even if the noun ends with “s.” Plural nouns that do not end in “s” also take an ‘s. However, plural nouns that end with “s” have an apostrophe added after the “s.”
Correction: A woman‘s hat was left on the bus. / Two dogs use the dish. It is the dogs’ dish.
Example Mistake: one rainy day, i saw sarah at Union street library.
Tip: In this example, Union is the only item that has been capitalized when there should be more.
In terms of capitalization, ask yourself three questions:
- Is this the first letter in a sentence? If the answer is yes, then you should capitalize that word. In this sentence, the first word is “one,” so “one” should be capitalized.
- Is this the pronoun “I”? If yes, capitalize. “I” should always be capitalized.
- Am I using a name that someone gave to this thing or person? If yes, capitalize. “Sarah” should be capitalized, and “Union Street Library” should be completely capitalized because it’s the given name of a location.
Correction: One rainy day, I saw Sarah at Union Street Library.
More Common Mistakes Students Make in English
Wrong You should not to smoke. Right You should not smoke.
Wrong Do you like a glass of wine? Right Would you like a glass of wine?
Wrong There is seven girls in the class. Right There are seven girls in the class.
Wrong I didn’t meet nobody. Right I didn’t meet anybody.
Wrong My flight departs in 5:00 am. Right My flight departs at 5:00 am.
Wrong I promise I call you next week. Right I promise I’ll call you next week.
Wrong Where is post office? Right Where is the post office?
Wrong Please explain me how improve my English. Right Please explain to me how to improve my English.
Wrong We studied during four hours. Right We studied for four hours.
Wrong Is ready my passport? Right Is my passport ready?
Wrong You cannot buy all what you like! Right You cannot buy all that you like!
Wrong She is success. Right She is successful.
Wrong My mother wanted that I be doctor. Right My mother wanted me to be a doctor.
Wrong The life is hard! Right Life is hard.
Wrong How many childrens you have? Right How many children do you have?
Wrong My brother has 10 years. Right My brother is 10 (years old).
Wrong I want eat now. Right I want to eat now.
Wrong You are very nice, as your mother. Right You are very nice, like your mother.
Wrong She said me that she liked you. Right She told me that she liked you.
Wrong My husband engineer. Right My husband is an engineer.
Wrong I came Australia to study English. Right I came to Australia to study English.
Wrong It is more hot now. Right It’s hotter now.
Wrong You can give me an information? Right Can you give me some information?
Wrong They cooked the dinner themself. Right They cooked the dinner themselves.
Wrong Me and Johnny live here. Right Johnny and I live here.
Wrong I closed very quietly the door. Right I closed the door very quietly.
Wrong You like dance with me? Right Would you like to dance with me?
Wrong I go always to school by subway. Right I always go to school by subway.
Wrong If I will be in London, I will contact to you. Right If I am in London, I will contact you.
Wrong We drive usually to home. Right We usually drive home.