Common Mistakes in English

April 4, 2016

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

When we are learning a language, we tend to get confused between some words or phrases and are unsure about their correct usage..

So what if English is not your first language!

English can be a challenge I admit, but, it is not impossible to learn. English may be easy enough to get started and carry a conversation using the basics, like any language. But it takes practice to train our ears to listen to the speaker, either someone speaking to us or even listening to ourselves. Depending on each individual and the circumstance of the conversation, can be easy or very difficult. Don’t lose hope! There is no need to be perfect with the language but just to be understood.

 So now, lets talk about the common errors of English that each of us are always making.

  1. its or it’s. (its) is a possessive pronoun. Example: Do you know if my hand phone needs its battery replaced? (it’s)is a contraction for (it is). Example: I think it’s going to rain.
  2. there, their, they’re. (there) is an adverb, refers to, in or at that place. Example: There is some cake on the table next to the punch bowl. (their) is a possessive pronoun. Example: Their food is delicious. (they’re) is a contraction for (they are)Example: I heard that the band will be there. They’re going to play their new song.
  3. your or you’re. (your) is a possessive pronoun. Example: Your life is very exciting. (you’re) is a contraction for (you are). Example: You’re going to do very well with your presentation.
  4. lose or loose. (lose) is a verb to show without something. Example: I can’t lose my job. / I sure need to lose some extra weight. Pronunciation {s (z)}. (loose) is an adjective to show a release from attachment. Example: My belt has become loose. / My pants are now very loose after being on a diet. Pronunciation {s (s)}.
  5. whose or who’s. (whose) is a possessive form of who. Example: Whose keys are these? Do you know? / Whose idea was to go skinny dipping? (who’s) is a contraction for who is. Example: Who’s going to clean this big mess? / Do you need to tell them who’s going to lead the meeting?
  6. Write or right. (write) is a verb, to express in writing. Example: I love to write teaching material. / Could you writea letter to mom for mother’s day? (right) is an adjective, to express correct, justified, suitable or direction (opposite to left). Example: He knew the difference between right and wrong. / It was right to say that. / Turn right at the light and go straight.
  7. effect or affect. (effect) is a noun, to express a result.Produced by a cause. Example: The effect of Global Warming can be seen everywhere. / What if all our work doesn’t have any effect(affect) is a verb, to act on; to produce a chance. Example: His talk affected me in a very strong way. / This kind of weather can affect your health.
  8. accept or except. (accept) is a verb, to take or receive. Example: accept the offer. / I hope she can accept my many flaws and still become my wife. (except) is a preposition, excluding, save, but. It will never follow a subject such as (I / we / they). Example: She will accept you as you are except your bad habit of texting other women.
  9. I or me. (I) is the first person singular subject pronoun, meaning that it refers to the person performing the action of the verb. Example: You and I need to get ready. / I want to go. / Irina and I are going to the mall. (me) is an object pronoun, meaning it refers to the person that the action of a verb is being done to, or to whom a preposition refers. Example: Between you and me, I think this is a bad idea. / I got a message from my boss, saying she needs to talk to me. / My boss said for me to replace her to be manager.
  10. gone or went. (gone) is the past participle of the verb go. Example: I should have gone to the gas station before I left town.(correct); (went) is the past tense of the verb go. Example: went to the gas station before I left town. (correct) / I should’ve went to the gas station before I left town. (Incorrect).
  11. could of or could have. (could of) is not a phrase. It is often misused because it is so close to “could have”.          could have is a correct phrase. Example: I wonder if I could have won the lottery.
  12. here or hear. (here) is an adverb, to express place or spot. Example: I am here sitting in traffic. / I sure wish you were here with me in Jakarta. (hear) is a verb, to be within range of sound, to perceive by ear. Example: Do you hear that bird? / If only I heard what she had to say before she left me.
  13. then or than. (then) is an adverb, refers to immediately, at that time. Example: I need to stop at the gas station; then I will meet you there. / Ok, I shall see you then(than) is used after comparative adjectives. To compare. Example: Jim is taller than Mark. / I’m sorry, you need to speak louder than the television.
  14. to, too, two. (to) is a preposition. Example: If I want to pass, I need to study. / If you need me to write the report, I will. (too) is an adverb, meaning in addition. Example: I wished that I was young, smart, and rich too(two) is a noun, a number. Example: If only the two of them knew what kind of trouble they are getting into. / I want you two to think about what you did.
  15. were, where or we’re. (were) is the past tense of verb to be. Example: We were going to go to the mall, but decided to go to the park. / I thought my cousins were going to stay with us for a week. (where) is an adverb, refers to location. Example: Where can I find the dark chocolate? / Where is the new store at? / Where were you going yesterday, when I called? (we’re) is a contraction for we are. Example: We’re going to get lost in this city. / We’re going to make history. / We’re going to improve our English.
  16. irregardless or regardless. (irregardless) I’m very sorry to say this but “irregardless” is not a word listed in the dictionary. (regardless) is an adjective, meaning without regard or consideration. Example: Regardless of the mixed results, I still think Manny Pacquiao won the boxing match.
  17. ending a sentence with a preposition. This is one area in English grammar that has been disputed by teachers and grammar experts for a very long time. Many say that it is improper to end a sentence or question with a preposition. Today, I want to go into this topic with our focus being on formal and informal language. (formal language) is a type of written or spoken language that is on the most part proper grammar and vocabulary. Example: We went to Bali for the weekend. We have many things to tell you. (formal) / Went to Bali for the weekend. Lots to tell you. (informal) This could be used for a text message. (informal language) is a type of written or spoken language that is free to use contractions and grammar rules are not so strong. Example: (formal) Incorrect: Who were the most articles written about? Correct: About whom were the most articles written? It’s ok to end a sentence with a preposition. (informal) Example: To whom should I give this money? Correct: Who should I give this money to? Also Correct.
  18. The apostrophe for plural form. Let me give you one rule to remember about the apostrophe. Rule: Never use an apostrophe to form a plural word. Only use an -s or an -es.
  19. The dangling participle. First, we need to remember what participles are – participles act as adjectives. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell which noun a participle phrase is modifying. The noun that it is to modify may not be stated in the sentence. This is known as a dangling participle. Example: Sitting on the park bench, the sun disappeared behind the mountains. Sitting on the park benchis a dangling participle. Where is the noun? Is this saying the sun was sitting on the park bench? No. To correct this we need a noun to modify. Example: Sitting on the park bench, I watched the sun disappear behind the mountains.


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