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Common English Mistakes

Non-native English speakers have a unique set of challenges while writing and speaking in the language. There are many different types of grammatical mistakes that are made and sentences often become confusing and misrepresenting because of these.

Here are some common grammar mistakes we Commonly make:

  1. Incorrect: Myself I am John
    Correct: I am John
    While introducing oneself, it is usually observed that the users mix up both the possessive pronoun “myself” and the subject pronoun “I”.
  2. Incorrect: I am having four uncles and aunts.
    Correct: I have four uncles and aunts
    Present Continuous Tense cannot be used for pragmatic situations such as this. Simple present tense should be used.
  3. Incorrect: He do not have a laptop
    Correct: He does not have a laptop
    Do not can not be used after the subject pronoun (He, She, it.)
  4. Incorrect: Does she has a house?
    Correct: Does she have a house?
    The helping verb does is used at the beginning and the main verb have denotes possession or ownership.
  5. Incorrect: (Question) “Today office is there?” (Answer)” “ No office is not there. Today is Christmas”.
    Correct: (Question) “Is today a working day?” OR “Are we working today?”(Answer)” Yes we are working today or no we are not working today.”
  6. Incorrect: That only, she is very smart.
    Correct: That was what I said. She is very smart.
    Saying “That only” was the wrong way to emphasize what the speaker has already said.
  7. Incorrect: Last before the year Rachel was the employee of the year.
    Correct: Year before last Rachel was the employee of the year.
    Phrases that can be used: Month before last, Day before last, Week before last.
  8. Incorrect: Joe did not wrote the test last week
    Correct: Joe did not write the test last week
    The helping verb did is followed by the present tense of the verb and not the past tense of the verb.
  9. Incorrect: I cannot cope up with this pressure.
    Correct: I cannot cope with this pressure
    The meaning of cope is to manage. ‘cope’ is followed by the preposition ‘with’ and never followed by ‘up’.
  10. Incorrect: I came to the office by walk.
    Correct: I came to the office on foot.
    We can say “by Car” “by bike” “by bus” “by train” and “by flight”. However, we cannot say “by walk” as it is the “foot” that is being used to travel and not “walk”.
  11. Incorrect: What is the time in your watch?
    Correct: What is the time by your watch?
  12. Incorrect: Our office is in the 2nd floor.
    Correct: Our office is on the 2nd floor.
  13. Incorrect: The price of this laptop is higher than yours.
    Correct: The price of this laptop is higher than that of yours
    While comparing two individuals/things than is followed by the pronoun that.
  14. Incorrect: His son – in – law have come home.
    Correct: His sons-in-law have come home.
    In plural form, it is always mothers-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law.
  15. Incorrect: Devin has white hairs.
    Correct: Devi has white hair.
    All the hair on one’s head is considered uncountable and so, “hairs” is almost always incorrect.
  16. Incorrect: I prefer coffee than tea.
    Correct: I prefer coffee to tea.
    ‘Prefer’ is always followed by the preposition ‘to’.

Some Other Important Tips

Their vs There
More often than not, these words are misused. “Their” refers to people whereas “there” is used to refer to places.
I have been there many times.
Let’s hope they achieve their target quickly.

Misuse of Coma
The main purpose of a comma in a sentence should be to indicate a pause in a long sentence or split a list of items mentioned. When a sentence is split, it accounts for the misuse of a comma.

Example: It takes him all day, to drive home.
This is referred to as sentence splitting and is in fact wrong. The comma basically confuses the sentence and creates what is commonly referred to as sentence fragments.

Blunder vs. Mistake
These two words basically mean the same thing and can never be used in a sentence at the same time.
Example: Sam could see her blunder mistake.
This is wrong. It can either be “Sam could see her making a mistake” or “ Sam could see her blunder”.

More vs. Better
At no point should they be used together in a sentence.
Example: My laptop is good but you’ll find my brother’s laptop to be more better.
The word better in itself implies superiority hence the use of the word
‘More’ in the sentence is seen as being unnecessary.

Does vs. Do
“Does” is used in singular form while “Do” indicates the plural nature of the subject.
Example: Why does he bothers you a lot?
Why “do” they bother you a lot?

Which vs. That
One of the major mistakes that cuts across all nationalities. “That” should be used as a restrictive pronoun while “Which” should be used as a relative pronoun to imply the available options. In a nutshell, “Which” defines and “That” limits.
Example: I never watch movies that are not HD. This means that you limit yourself to HD movies.
I only watch HD movies which are available on DVD. It means that you can watch HD movies available on DVD and do not have to download them.

Who vs. Whom
As a subjective pronoun “Who” is used in situations where a pronoun acts as the subject of a particular sentence. On the other hand, ”Whom” is used as an objective pronoun and used whenever a pronoun acts as an object in a sentence.
Example: Who will participate in the competition today?
This is the person whom I told you about?

Putting a Comma before the word “that”
This is a very common grammar mistake made by us people. There is a school of thought of the opinion that ”that” should never have a comma before it while others provide for some discretion in certain scenarios.
Example: He spoke so well, that everybody was pleased (This is wrong.)
Correct: He spoke so well that everybody was pleased.

Un-capitalized words at the beginning of a quotation mark
Every time you start a quotation mark, it must be followed by a capital letter.
Example: John said, ”The meeting is on Saturday.”

Forgetting to put a question mark
This mostly happens in sentences that do not begin with ”Why”, ”What”, ”How”, ”Who”, and ”When”.
Example: When are you going to submit your report.
That is wrong. The sentence needs to end with a question mark.

Accept vs. Except
When spoken, these words sound almost the same and can be confusing to non-natives. ”Accept” means to agree to take something that’s being offered while ”Except” means the exclusion of something.
Example: Sometimes we have to accept change if we want to move forward
I did not give them the time of day, except to confirm what you told me on the record.

Its and it’s
”Its” is used to show possession while ”it’s” is the short version of ”it is”.
Example: It’s a once-in-lifetime experience.
Its greater attribute is its flexibility.

Envy vs. Jealousy
”Envy” is used to imply the pursuit of someone else’s success whereas ”Jealousy” has a much more negative meaning implying a fear of competition.
Example: His successes, however, had aroused the envy and suspicion of Domitian.

It was not jealousy that troubled him.

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