Top 10 Most Common Mistakes English Learners Make

Mistakes! We all make them! In this post I'm going to set out the most common and easy(-ish) to fix. So keep reading if you want to become a more accurate and fluent English speaker.

1. The 's' from third person singular present tense verbs
I hear so many learners make this mistake, saying things like "She like" instead of "She likeS". It's a simple error to fix, but so, so important!

2. Subject verb agreement especially with the noun 'people'
Remember in English the noun people is plural so if you want to talk about people you need to use the third person plural form:"people are happy""people do interesting things"

3. The use of the definite article
Sometimes we use the article and sometimes we do not. It often depends on the context. Look at the following example:
  1. The student goes to school.
  2. The mother is going to the school.
In the first sentence we do not use the definite article, in the second we do. The student goes to school for its primary function, so we do not use the article.
The mother is going for a different purpose. That's why we use the definite article the in the second sentence.

Also compare:
1. I love dogs.
2. I love the dogs in that picture.

When you're talking generally, you don't need to use the definite article. When you're talking about something specific you do.


4. Uncountable nouns
Did you know that the noun 'advice' is uncountable in English. So it's not possible to say "an advice" you have to say "a piece of advice/some advice". There are many other uncountable nouns in English including training and the concept of money.
This is something you'll just have to memorise I'm afraid.

5. Phrasal verbs
Like uncountable nouns, you need to memorise the differences different phrasal verbs have. For example:
Look for = search for something
Look at = focus your attention

Just by changing the preposition that accompanies the verb 'look' these phrasal verbs can have a completely different meaning. It's essential that you don't confuse these.


6. The confusion between the verbs 'hear' and 'listen'
Do you know the difference between the uses of these two verbs? There's a big difference!
Hear is a verb that means to sense a sound with our ears. When we hear something, it's by chance. We are not actively paying attention or waiting for the sound.
Listen is a verb that means to give your attention to a sound. When we listen, we are actively concentrating on the sound.

For example: Oh no the connection is bad I can't ----- you.(hear)
I -------- to the new Ariane Grande album last night.(listened) 


7. Adjectives ending in -ed or -ing
So many learners say to me 'I'm so boring' and I have to say..... are you!?
Adjectives that end ‘-ed’ (e.g. ‘bored’, ‘interested’) and adjectives that end ‘-ing’ (e.g. ‘boring’, ‘interesting’) are often confused.

Adjectives that end ‘-ed’ describe emotions – they tell us how people feel about something.
I was very bored in the maths lesson. I almost fell asleep.

Adjectives that end ‘-ing’ describe the thing that causes the emotion – a boring lesson makes you feel bored.
Have you seen that film? It’s absolutely terrifying.


8. Question formation with the verb 'to be'
Remember when forming questions with the verb 'to be' you need to follow this order.
Question word + to be + subject + the rest of the sentence + ?
Why + is + she + sad?


9. Subject and object pronouns
Subject pronouns replace nouns that are the subject of their clause. In the 3rd person, subject pronouns are often used to avoid repetition of the subject's name.
I am 16.
You seem lost.
They are fun.

Object pronouns are used to replace nouns that are the direct or indirect object of a clause.
Give the book to me.
The teacher wants to talk to you.
He gave the apples to them.


10. When to use the past simple or the present perfect tenses.
We use the past simple when the time is required and important.
For example: In 2012 I lived in London.
We use the present perfect when the time is not necessary or important.

For example: I have lived in London.

We also use it to talk about something that started in the past but that has relevance in the present.

For example: I have known my friend for 6 years.



I hope these tips and explanations were helpful, if you have any common errors, leave them in the comments below!

Emma at Anywhere English
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Emma Johnson

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Flag
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Fala:
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Hi I'm Emma, I’m a qualified English teacher from England with over 9 years experience. I have a Teaching degree from Oxford University and studied English and Spanish at King’s College, London. I also have a CELTA from International House. My classes are dynamic and structured around your interests. I use authentic material (articles, videos, podcasts) about topics that are relevant and engaging. I am creative, fun and friendly. - You want to become more fluent and confident. - You want to sound more natural and be able to join in conversations in English at work or socially. - You want to differentiate yourself from others when looking for a job and develop in your dream career. I'm here to support and guide you on your journey to becoming a pro at English. Whether that means concentrating on conversational English, grammar, vocabulary or even specific English for business or to pass an exam, I can help you. I have taught the FCE, CAE, CPE and IELTS as well as GCSEs. I also...
Flag
Inglês
globe
Reino Unido
time
852
Fala:
Inglês
Nativo
,
Espanhol
C1
,
Francês
B1
,
Catalão
B1
,
Português
A2
Hi I'm Emma, I’m a qualified English teacher from England with over 9 years experience. I have a Teaching degree from Oxford University and studied English and Spanish at King’s College, London. I also have a CELTA from International House. My classes are dynamic and structured around your interests. I use authentic material (articles, videos, podcasts) about topics that are relevant and engaging. I am creative, fun and friendly. - You want to become more fluent and confident. - You want to sound more natural and be able to join in conversations in English at work or socially. - You want to differentiate yourself from others when looking for a job and develop in your dream career. I'm here to support and guide you on your journey to becoming a pro at English. Whether that means concentrating on conversational English, grammar, vocabulary or even specific English for business or to pass an exam, I can help you. I have taught the FCE, CAE, CPE and IELTS as well as GCSEs. I also...
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