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20 Terrible Mistakes Students Make in English Everyday

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.

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Common Mistakes Students Make in English Language

  1. WrongI have visited Niagara Falls last weekend.
    RightI visited Niagara Falls last weekend.
  2. WrongThe woman which works here is from Japan.
    RightThe woman who works here is from Japan.
  3. WrongShe’s married with a dentist.
    RightShe’s married to a dentist.
  4. WrongShe was boring in the class.
    RightShe was bored in the class.
  5. WrongI must to call him immediately.
    RightI must call him immediately.
  6. WrongEvery students like the teacher.
    RightEvery student likes the teacher.
  7. WrongAlthough it was raining, but we had the picnic.
    RightAlthough it was raining, we had the picnic.
  8. WrongI enjoyed from the movie.
    RightI enjoyed the movie.
  9. WrongI look forward to meet you.
    RightI look forward to meeting you.
  10. WrongI like very much ice cream.
    RightI like ice cream very much.
  11. WrongShe can to drive.
    RightShe can drive.
  12. WrongWhere I can find a bank?
    RightWhere can I find a bank?
  13. WrongI live in United States.
    RightI live in the United States.
  14. WrongWhen I will arrive, I will call you.
    RightWhen I arrive, I will call you.
  15. WrongI’ve been here since three months.
    RightI’ve been here for three months.
  16. WrongMy boyfriend has got a new work.
    RightMy boyfriend has got a new job. (or just “has a new job”)
  17. WrongShe doesn’t listen me.
    RightShe doesn’t listen to me.
  18. WrongYou speak English good.
    RightYou speak English well.
  19. WrongThe police is coming.
    RightThe police are coming.
  20. WrongThe house isn’t enough big.
    RightThe 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.

Speaking Mistakes

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: 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?”

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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.)

Writing Mistakes

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.

12. Punctuation

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.

14. Apostrophes

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.

15. Capitalization

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

  1. WrongYou should not to smoke.
    RightYou should not smoke.
  2. WrongDo you like a glass of wine?
    RightWould you like a glass of wine?
  3. WrongThere is seven girls in the class.
    RightThere are seven girls in the class.
  4. WrongI didn’t meet nobody.
    RightI didn’t meet anybody.
  5. WrongMy flight departs in 5:00 am.
    RightMy flight departs at 5:00 am.
  6. WrongI promise I call you next week.
    RightI promise I’ll call you next week.
  7. WrongWhere is post office?
    RightWhere is the post office?
  8. WrongPlease explain me how improve my English.
    RightPlease explain to me how to improve my English.
  9. WrongWe studied during four hours.
    RightWe studied for four hours.
  10. WrongIs ready my passport?
    RightIs my passport ready?
  11. WrongYou cannot buy all what you like!
    RightYou cannot buy all that you like!
  12. WrongShe is success.
    RightShe is successful.
  13. WrongMy mother wanted that I be doctor.
    RightMy mother wanted me to be a doctor.
  14. WrongThe life is hard!
    RightLife is hard.
  15. WrongHow many childrens you have?
    RightHow many children do you have?
  16. WrongMy brother has 10 years.
    RightMy brother is 10 (years old).
  17. WrongI want eat now.
    RightI want to eat now.
  18. WrongYou are very nice, as your mother.
    RightYou are very nice, like your mother.
  19. WrongShe said me that she liked you.
    RightShe told me that she liked you.
  20. WrongMy husband engineer.
    RightMy husband is an engineer.
  21. WrongI came Australia to study English.
    RightI came to Australia to study English.
  22. WrongIt is more hot now.
    RightIt’s hotter now.
  23. WrongYou can give me an information?
    RightCan you give me some information?
  24. WrongThey cooked the dinner themself.
    RightThey cooked the dinner themselves.
  25. WrongMe and Johnny live here.
    RightJohnny and I live here.
  26. WrongI closed very quietly the door.
    RightI closed the door very quietly.
  27. WrongYou like dance with me?
    RightWould you like to dance with me?
  28. WrongI go always to school by subway.
    RightI always go to school by subway.
  29. WrongIf I will be in London, I will contact to you.
    RightIf I am in London, I will contact you.
  30. WrongWe drive usually to home.
    RightWe usually drive home.

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