Friday, August 31, 2007

Most Common Mistakes in English

from today's "esl" newsletter (subscribe to the newsletter at
10 Common Mistakes in English
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes in English with explanations and examples...
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Just because the above are the 10 most common mistakes in English does not necessarily mean they are YOUR personal 10 most common.

Here are more "most common mistakes" pages. Can you identify yours? You can't really work on fixing them until you know what they are. This is another of those "meta-learning" projects like reflecting on and writing about learning process.
I'm sure there are more, but this should be enough to get you started. I'd like to find or develop (if I can't find any) resources on syntax (word order & sentence structure) mistakes and other interference problems. "Interference" means how what you are used in your native language interferes with learning and using different language patterns. 

Then we will work together to find and publish handouts and exercises for every "most common" mistake you send. By the way, "we" means that I won't be doing ALL the looking for online study and practice materials.


  1. Hi all

    My mistakes that in my mind now!

    - Spelling

    - articles a,an,the

    - change noun&verb when there is Prual or singular. I always forget change to plural form.

    - survivable, surviving and survival, they are adjective, but I am confused which one corrects for some particular meaning. (I think this mistake I have to read more and get use to how to use them.)

  2. Tai

    I noticed the problem with changing nouns and verbs to plural form. That's a very common mistake and usually referred to as "subject verb agreement." Type "subject verb agreement" into your favorite search engine and you will find a lot of pages on it. Typing "subject verb agreement" + "exercises" or "quizzes"u a lot of practice exercises and quizzes.

    Your other problem is related to "commonly cofused words" but is more about word forms. You have the correct root for meaning but the wrong form of the word.

    "survival" is usually a noun and only rarely an adjective, as in the expression "survival skills," which is an example of a noun USED as an adjective. "Survivable" is always a noun, but "surviving" is a verbal and can be a noun, an adjective or part of a verb string.

    Alway look at what a word does in a sentence. Don't hesitate to look it up in a dictionary - preferably not a bilingual dictionary. Entries list what part of speech a word is - and also list if it is used as more than one.

  3. Hello everybody!

    I face problems in using phrasal verbs & placing correct prepositions. When I speak I often use he in place of she. Thisi is the most common mistake that I usually make. I have tried my level best to stop this but couldn't. Can you tell a way to solve this problem?



  4. Hello all.
    I believe that I have a lot of problems generally.
    But the last year I think that I'm level best than a year before. I think that I have to try more hard.
    I read newspapers (some articles that seems to me interesting-like Environment,Science,Nuture.... -) Easily articles for the beging.I like to write some paragraphs to learn the words. the more do this the merrier is good to improvement my knowledge.
    When I'm writing something I have a promblem with the tenses. I find a very good book, with all tenses together, with exercises. I think the reason of this, is that I compare the English language with mine.Maybe isn't the right.
    I believe that you Ms Vanessa as a teacher with experience know which is realy my problems and which is my improvement in english language.
    thank you for time all of you.

  5. Mata

    You bring up a very important point in language learning. Tenses are not as idiomatic as prepositions. However, you still have to learn tenses in terms of the language you are studying, not your native or even another, more familiar language. The rarely translate exacting from one language to another, whicb can be

    Eventually, with practice and exposure, you will assimilate or acquire a sense of how tp use tenses appropriately

  6. My mistakes are:

    I confused Countable / Uncountable Nouns, also I have problem when the nouns is a "adjective" of other noun.
    What is the noun and the what is adjective?

    I have problems with use the prepositions, phrasal verbs and prepositional phrases.

    I confused the auxiliary verbs.

    For now, I identify these mistakes

  7. Hello everyone

    Thank you teacher Vanessa for your comments, I found tons of exerises in the internet!!


    I also have Adjective-Noun problems, becuase my language always say Noun before Adjective.

    ex. "a pen red" --> in thai language
    meaning same as "a red pen" in english.

    My tricky, when I'm going to say some words (main noun), I'll image that noun in my head and put this main noun at the END of word and then if I would like to desctibe noun by adjective or noun, I will put all describing words in front of the main noun.

    my main noun -->Pizza
    described noun -->chicken
    then it will be
    "a chicken pizza" -- you can image that the pizza circle one is overlaid with chicken ...

    "A pizza chicken" -- this word you may image a chicken which was baked from flour something like that :P

  8. Adriana & Tai - good points.

    Look at what a word DOES more than how it is labeled. The label generally notes how it is USUALLY used. However, few if any words are ALWAYS used the SAME way.

    As for countable and uncountable nouns can be confusing, but there are many excellent online study resources on them. Try searching to see what you can find. Share the results with us.

    Ask yourself: "what does this word do?" Does it DESCRIBE or givei information about (a modifier)? Then it is an adjective or adverb. Does it NAME something (concrete or abstact)? Then it is a noun. Does it DO something or express a condition (state of being)? Then it is a verb.

    When structures or usages in your own language influence how you use the language you are learning, we call that interference. A good name for it, don't you think?

    But once you know where the interference problems are, then you can "look out" or watch for them. Being aware is the first step - another of those "meta-learning" things I go on about.


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