English is by far the most popular and spoken language in the world. It is slowly becoming the language of the world and nowadays you can get by and be able to communicate in almost any part of the world using English. That’s why the appeal of the language and people’s interest in learning it is increasing everyday. It is not an exaggeration to say that knowing English is a must for everyone. But in any case, if you are learning English for work or just for yourself, you will soon find out that English is not the most straightforward language! There are many small mistakes you can make without even noticing. That is why you should take time to fix these mistakes early on because if you keep making them, they will soon be part of your English vocabulary and it will be very hard to get rid of them. Even those with English as their mother tongue make mistakes and these are with them for life – trust us when we say we know all about it!
To start with, one of the most common mistakes is people using the word good to describe a verb. Examples like “You speak English good” are some of the most common for they tend to sound right to people to whom English is not the first language. So, you should always keep in mind that we do not use the word good to describe a verb and we usually use the word well instead. So the right form here would be “You speak English well”. But don’t worry, as my teacher used to say, the key to learning any language is to fix your mistakes early on.
What my students say is one of the most frustrating things they have encountered while learning English, is the difference between Its and It’s. Now they may seem the same and interchangeable, but leave it to English to complicate things for apparently no reason (I am joking, it is a very good reason why these are different from each other).
Let’s take for example the sentence The bee made its honey. It’s very delicious honey.
“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 bee’s honey, because the honey belongs to the bee.
“It’s,” with an apostrophe, is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” When talking about the tastiness of the honey, we’re saying that it is very tasty. Therefore, we should use the contraction “it’s” instead of “its.”
So, let’s take another example. 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.”
Another thing ( and I must admit what bothers me most as an English teacher) is the misuse of the words “Your” and “You’re”. This is undoubtedly one of the easiest things to learn in the English language, but I constantly see this mistake done not only by new English students but also people for whom English is their mother tongue and who have been speaking English all their life.
“Your” indicates a possession – and defines that something belongs to you.
“You’re” is short for “You are”.
I have also had many students who have struggled with pronoun placement. Although this is a mistake which constant practice on English will solve by itself for it will become “instinctual” to you to be able to place the right pronouns, for beginners learning this simple rule will go a long way in them speaking grammatically correct English.
Some of the most common grammar mistakes are pronoun errors. They occur when pronouns do not agree in number with the nouns to which they refer. If the noun is singular, the pronoun must be singular. If the noun is plural, the pronoun must be plural as well.
Incorrect: “Every girl must bring their own lunch.”
Correct: “Every girl must bring her own lunch.”
And now to start with some chameleon mistakes which are very easy to miss when you are speaking the language. Here we have the Ending a Sentence in a Preposition mistake. A preposition, by its nature, indicates that another word will follow it. In casual conversation, this type of error is no big deal, but you should avoid this mistake in your writing.
For example: “What reason did you call me for?” is incorrect and it should be written as “What is the reason for your call?”
And to conclude what I think are enough things to remember for one blog post, I want to talk about the problem of having No Clear Antecedent. An antecedent is a word that comes before a pronoun and helps the reader understand what the pronoun means. Generally, you can clear up this confusion by rearranging the wording.
Incorrect: “The dad found the boy, and he was happy.”
Correct: “The dad was happy when he found the boy.”
As we can see, English is a language full of tricks and it is easy to make mistakes, especially if you are new to the language. But with the proper guidance, practice and a bit of enthusiasm you can learn to avoid them and ease your way toward mastering the English language.
We hope that you have found these few common mistakes in the English language interesting! If you feel like these are mistakes you’ve made often yourself, why not book lessons with our experienced and qualified teachers to help you overcome the plight of English.