The 8 Most Common English Mistakes

The following covers the most common mistakes in English made by learners. Since English is an extensive and diverse language, even native speakers have difficulty navigating it at times. Learn about common English mistakes you might also make, but are not aware that they are errors at all, by following the list below.

1. Phonemes mixed up

There are certain sounds in some languages that are not present in others. Most learners tend to confuse their pronunciation or fail to map symbols with sounds. In cases such as ‘think’ or ‘thought’, where the -th sound is ignored by students, they pronounce them as ‘fink’ or ‘sought’.

2. The ‘have’ is dropped before a past participle

A common mistake learners make when conjugating verbs in the past perfect tense is dropping the ‘have/has’. When learners abbreviate ‘have/has’ to ‘I’ve’, ‘They’ve’, ‘She’s’, etc., they often say ‘I saw’ instead of ‘I’ve seen’ or ‘I’ve been’. As a result, they relax, stressing on the abbreviation until they forget to use it altogether.

3. Direct translation from the native tongue

In order to translate a language accurately, it is essential to take into account the idioms, phrases and grammar that are exclusive to the target language. For instance, when translating from another mother tongue the phrase ‘fold the clothes’ might be misconstrued as ‘bend the clothes’. These types of errors often happen due to a lack of familiarity with how English is used in real life. Consequently, it is necessary to practise speaking or writing in English rather than relying solely on word for word translations.

4. Prepositions used incorrectly

Prepositions follow most verbs: listen to, wait for, based on, believe in, suffer from, etc. Learners tend to forget these prepositions or use the wrong one. Rather than study a list as such, of every verb and preposition pair, learners must often read and use it in a speech to gradually learn how to use it properly.

5. The subject-verb agreement is confusing

Students often fail to establish a subject-verb agreement. They either mispronounce the verb or overlook the distinction between singular and plural verb conjugations. For example, learners may present the sentence ‘She likes to eat apples.’ as ‘She like to eating apples.’

6. Using only one tense at a time

Often, learners use one tense in all situations once they are comfortable with it. Rather than saying ‘I’m working now’ or ‘I’ve worked here for five years’, these sentences can be rephrased appropriately as ‘I have worked here for five years’ or ‘I have worked here for five years’.

7. Too many or too few articles

While one might say ‘This is a tree’ or ‘This is the tree’, the correct application of articles would be ‘This is a tree’ or ‘This is the tree’, depending on the context.

8. Changing the structure of questions

Asking questions in English can appear simple on the surface, but for those learning the language it can be a perplexing venture. Students often don’t make their inquiries in an unambiguous way; for instance, when they’re trying to say ‘What day is it today?’, they may ask ‘What today is day?’ and when inquiring about someone’s destination they might say ‘Where you are going?’ It is understandable that these errors occur since many learners are not native speakers of the language. Even skilled English speakers have difficulty in using the language correctly. To conquer these common mistakes, one should focus on engaging with the language through reading, speaking and listening. This also brings up another set of common mistakes in English.

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