Now you’ve done it.
You made an English mistake, and you’re feeling so embarrassed!
Your face feels hot and you’d like to disappear.
You’d like to catch the next airplane to your home country.
That’s okay. Embarrassment is universal, and everyone makes mistakes when learning a new language. Often, when you’re learning a new language, embarrassment occurs as the result of a spoken or written error.
But you need to make mistakes in order to learn better!
Why You Should Learn About Common English Mistakes?
Have you ever made a mistake while speaking in English?
Perhaps you have had some awkward English language situations.
For example, after English class, you want to give your teacher a compliment, so you say, “You teach English good.” It took quite a bit of courage to speak with your teacher directly.
She says, “You think I teach English well? Thank you!” Ah, you forgot that you should not use “good” to describe a verb. Instead, you should use “well” to describe a verb.
English is so tricky. Instead of feeling pride in your attempt to speak—which is what you should always feel—you begin to feel ashamed of your grammatical mistake.
Here’s another example:
Perhaps a good English-speaking friend of yours is moving away to another town or another country.
To say goodbye, you tell them, “I will always forget you.” He begins to laugh, and says, “I will never forget you either.” Later, you realize that you mixed up the words “forget” and “always,” and so the meaning of your well-rehearsed farewell speech makes you feel foolish. Many English students seem obsessed with perfecting their language learning and become frustrated when they make errors and spend hours trying to correct those errors.
Shame and embarrassment bother every one of us from time to time. However, while you might try to prepare for embarrassing moments, you can never fully prevent them. With a little bit of skill, those uncomfortable moments can turn into opportunities for learning, humor and maybe even friendship.
It might be a relief for some to learn that even native speakers make mistakes. So before we make fun of non-native English speakers, it’s important to realize that native speakers make mistakes all the time.
10 Common Mistakes in English You Can Easily Avoid Making Each example has a common English mistake. See if you can figure out what the mistake is, and then read the tip for more information. Grammar Mistakes.
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. 2/5
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 them playing every day.
Speaking Mistakes :
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 :
8. 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.
9. 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: 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 of 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.
Some people think that becoming fluent in another language means talking fast and using big, fancy words. However, fluency is easy to achieve by simply talking.
If you practice speaking, you will be able to speak faster and with more confidence. You also want to make sure you also have good comprehension as well. It’s much better to be slow and correct than being fast and make tons of mistakes. Why? If you’re slow and correct, you can easily improve the way in which you speak, read or write. But first, you’ve got to practice. Eventually, you’ll feel like you can speak or write anything!
If you follow the above rules and still make a lot of mistakes when speaking, you should probably switch to writing for a while. It’s easier to produce correct sentences when writing because you can use the dictionary and the Internet to double check your common mistakes. You don’t even have to worry about good pronunciation.
Just take a deep breath and tell yourself that failure is just a part of the learning process. Take responsibility for your mistakes, but don’t make yourself crazy.
Enjoy yourself and have fun as you learn! Most importantly, admire your strengths and others will too. Take the lessons you’ve learned and move forward. When you turn each failure into a learning opportunity, you’ll grow stronger and more capable with each mistake you make.