common mistakes in English

Top 8 Common Mistakes in English

The following covers the most common mistakes in English made by learners. English being a diverse and extensive language, even natives have trouble handling it at times. Follow the list below to identify common mistakes in English that you too might often make, not being aware that they are, in fact, errors at all.

  1. Mixing up Phonemes

While some languages have certain sounds, these may not be present in others. Most learners tend to confuse their pronunciation or fail to map symbols with sounds. The -th sound is often ignored by students in the case of words such as ‘think’ or ‘thought’ which are pronounced as  ‘fink’ or ‘sought’.

  1. Dropping the ‘have’ before a past participle

Most learners get into the habit of dropping their ‘have/has’ when conjugating a verb into the past perfect tense. They tend to say ‘I seen’ instead of ‘I’ve seen’ or ‘I been’ instead of ‘I’ve been’. This error usually occurs when learners abbreviate the ‘have/has’ to ‘I’ve’, ‘They’ve’ , ‘She’s’ etc. They then relax stressing on the abbreviation, eventually forgetting to use it altogether.

  1. Translating Directly From the Native Tongue

A proper translation of a language takes into account the idioms, verbal phrases and grammatical rules unique to the target language and are absent in the source language. For example, the correct phrase would be to ‘fold the clothes’. The verb ‘fold’ may mean ‘bend’ when directly translated to English from someone else’s mother tongue.  So a learner may say ‘bend the clothes’ instead of applying the more suitable verb ‘fold’.

Such common mistakes in English occur when the student is less familiar with the real-life use of the language. It is, therefore, necessarily to speak or write in English instead of learning word to word translations only.

  1. Incorrect Use of Prepositions

Most verbs have prepositions which are expected to follow them: listen to, wait for, based on, believe in, suffer from, etc. Learners tend to forget these prepositions or use one which is not suitable for the verb. As it’s hard to study a list as such, of every verb – preposition pair, learners must often read and use the language in a speech to gradually learn their proper application.

  1. Confusing Subject- Verb Agreement

Students often fail to establish a subject-verb agreement.  They either mispronounce the verb or dismiss the distinction between singular and plural verb conjugations. Consider the sentence: ‘She likes to eat apples.’ Learners may present this sentence as ‘She like to eat apples’.

  1. Refraining From Using Varied Tenses

Some learners get comfortable with one tense and use it in every situation. They may say ‘I work now’ instead of ‘I am working now’ or they might say ‘I work here for five years’  while this sentence can be rephrased appropriately to ‘I have been working here for five years’ or to ‘I worked here for five years’.

  1. Omitting Articles or Adding Too Many

Some language users forget their articles or others simply add too many. While one might say ‘This is tree’  or ‘This the is the tree’. In both cases, the correct application of articles would be to say ‘This is a tree’ or ‘This is the tree’, given the context of the sentence.

  1. Mixing Up the Structure of Questions

Forming questions may seem easy, but for English learners, this can be a confusing task. Students tend to pose their questions in a jumble of words that when they wish to ask, ‘What day is it today?’ They might instead say ‘What today is day?’.  They might like to ask ‘Where are you going?’ but would pose the question as ‘Where you are going?’

English is not native to most learners of the language. It is, therefore, only natural for students to make these frequent and common mistakes in English. The language can be challenging to even the most fluent native speaker. Constant reading, speaking and exposure to the tongue is the best way to overcome these common mistakes in English.

In compiling a list of common mistakes in English it also brings to mind the following:

  • They’re vs. their vs. there
  • Affect vs. Effect
  • Me vs. I
  • Your vs. you’re
  • Its vs. It’s
  • Incomplete comparisons
  • Dangling modifiers
  • Passive voice
  • To refer to an entity or brand as “they.”
  • Too vs. to
  • Peak vs. peek vs. pique