The Most Common Mistakes in English and How to Avoid Them
We all make mistakes in grammar, spelling, and sentence construction. The funny thing is that we notice when others make some common errors in English. We even tend to embarrass them for that. “Hey; it’s their, not they’re! Didn’t you go to school?”
To some extent, noticing other people’s mistakes is okay. Embarrassing them for that is not okay. Do you know why? – Because we’re all guilty of making mistakes in English language. The difference is that we don’t notice our own mistakes. We’re so used to them that they became a natural part of the way we talk and write.
It’s time for self-reflection. We’ll list a few common errors, and you should answer this question: are you guilty of making them? Acknowledging our flaws is the first step towards improvement.
Learning Proper English: Common Errors to Avoid
Wrong Use or Lack of Apostrophe
“It’s a womans duty to provide for the kids’s wellbeing.”
How many mistakes did you notice in that sentence?
For non-native English speakers, the concept of an apostrophe is hard to understand and implement. Who are we kidding? Even native speakers make these mistakes.
This is the correct way to write that sentence:
“It’s a woman’s duty to provide for the kids’ wellbeing.”
The apostrophe is used to indicate possession (woman’s) or to combine two words into one (it’s). But when you have a plural noun that ends with an “s,” you won’t add the “‘s.” If the noun is singular and ends with an “s,” you’ll still add an “‘s.” Such is the example with Ros’s.
It’s a simple rule to remember, so it’s time for all of us to stop making these mistakes. They are really common in social media updates and comments. That’s because people rarely use social media writing tools. They justify these mistakes with “It’s just social media. It’s casual and I don’t care about grammar.” You should always care about grammar.
A run-on sentence occurs when you use two or more main clauses without separating them with proper punctuation.
Here’s an example:
“Today I have to cook breakfast and I have to clean my room and I have to go to class.”
Can you say that sentence in one breath? It’s hard, right? Then you shouldn’t write it without punctuation. We use conjunctions, semicolons and periods to mimic real speech when writing. A run-on sentence is unnatural.
Here’s the correct way to write it:
“Today, I have to cook breakfast. I also have to clean my room and go to class.”
“I have to cook breakfast, clean my room, and go to class today.”
If you’re not sure how to avoid this issue, you can use a punctuation corrector. It’s a simple tool that indicates punctuation flaws and tells you how to fix them.
Messing up the subject/verb agreement may sound cute when you use it in a humorous way. This video is a good example for that.
The dog uses human language, but doesn’t get the grammar right.
“Pizza help week go by.”
But when you make a mistake in subject/verb agreement without the intention to sound funny, you sound silly.
This often happens with “was/were.” The rule is simple: you use “was” with I, He, and She. “Were” goes with You and They. Learn that simple rule and you’ll avoid the subject/verb agreement grammar sin.
Casual Language in Academic Content
“If you really want to know my point of view, I’ll tell you all about it in the next paragraph. FYI, it’s nothing special.”
That’s an actual sentence that I read in a real essay.
Academic writing shouldn’t be too stiff and unnatural. However, it’s not a text message and you’re not writing it for a friend. You can’t use slang abbreviations, such as FYI, in a paper for school. It’s also not okay to directly address the professor, so avoid using you.
Those sentences are also fillers. They are not needed in an essay, so it’s best to avoid such casual expressions.
Not Using Space after Punctuation
You think it’s not a serious mistake?It’s annoying.It makes the content unreadable.It’s even worse than leaving two spaces after punctuation,which many people also do.
Was that difficult to read?
Yes. You need an effort to separate two words when there’s no space between them. The punctuation sign does not replace the space. The rule is to always leave a space after a comma, full stop, semicolon, question mark, exclamation point, or any other mark.
Will You Make an Effort to Speak and Write Proper English?
No matter how much you improve your grammar, you’ll still make mistakes now and then. Mastering the English language is an ongoing process. But it’s fun, and it’s not a hard thing to do.
No one says you must go back to school. You could take an online language course, which won’t take much of your time but will greatly improve your skills.
If you don’t have time for that, then the common mistakes we listed above are a nice start. Pay attention to your content and speech, and notice when you make them. When you start noticing, you’ll start avoiding. That’s a big step towards improving your English.