Common English Mistakes

Office Tools for proofreading

Preposition Use- 

Prepositions in English sentences should be used properly. Most English prepositions have several different functions and at the same time different prepositions can have very similar uses. Many nouns, verbs, and adjectives are normally used with particular prepositions. Often, the correct preposition cannot be guessed. One has to learn the expression as a whole.


I
ncorrect:          Let me help you to do your work.
Correct:            Let me help you with your work.

Incorrect:          I recommend you to take a long vacation.
Correct:            I recommend that you take a long vacation.

Incorrect:          Come to here.
Correct:            Come here.

Incorrect:          The sun rises from the East.
Correct:            The sun rises in the East.

Incorrect:          The thief got in from the window.
Correct:            The thief got in through the window.

Incorrect:          Let's begin from page 10.
Correct:            Let's begin at(on) page 10.

Incorrect:          There is a limit in my patience.
Correct:            There is a limit to my patience.

Incorrect:          Please wait inside the white line.
Correct:            Please wait behind the white line.

Incorrect:          Is your house insured for fire?
Correct:            Is your house insured against fire?

Incorrect:          I have no house to live.
Correct:            I have no house to live in.

Incorrect:          What a dirty face! Look at the mirror.
Correct:            What a dirty face! Look in the mirror.

Incorrect:          This is the key of my room.
Correct:            This is the key to my room.

Incorrect:          I am going to take a two-year course of English.
Correct:            I am going to take a two-year course in English.

Incorrect:          The last bus leaves at eleven o'clock. It's about eleven now, Hurry!
Correct:            The last bus leaves at eleven o'clock. It's nearly (almost) eleven now, Hurry!

Incorrect:          Leave your hand from the end of the wire.
Correct:            Let go of the end of the wire.

Incorrect:          Keep the right.
Correct:            Keep to the right.

Incorrect:          It is not of only your business.
Correct:            It is none of your business.

Word Choice - 

Choice of words in English communication is very crucial. One has to find words that best express one's ideas and one's meanings. Choosing the appropriate word or expression is essential to good writing or speaking.

Incorrect:          Your coat is broken.
Correct:            Your coat is torn.

Incorrect:          Susan didn't make a fault anyway.
Correct:            Susan didn't make a mistake anyway.

Incorrect:          May I borrow your phone?
Correct:            May I use your phone?

Incorrect:          He becomes better.
Correct:            He got better.

Incorrect:          We'll have a hearing test tomorrow.
Correct:            We'll have a listening test tomorow.

Incorrect:          It was still bright outside.
Correct:            It was still light outside. 

Incorrect:          Common students in U.S. don't wear a uniform.
Correct:            The average students in U.S. don't wear a uniform.

Incorrect:          Who cooked this salad?
Correct:            Who made this salad?

Incorrect:          Let me examine your pulse.
Correct:            Let me feel your pulse.

Incorrect:          I forget my hat in the house.
Correct:            I left my hat in the house.

Incorrect:          Did you attend college ?
Correct:            Did you go to college ?

Incorrect:          His temperature went down.
Correct:            His temperature came down.

Incorrect:          Today's newspapers has his articles on Taiwan.
Correct:            Today's newspapers carries his articles on Taiwan.

Incorrect:          You'll have a cold if you sleep with your window open.
Correct:            You'll catch a cold if you sleep with your window open.

Incorrect:          He was talking in a high voice.
Correct:            He was talking loud.

Incorrect:          Most Westerners have high noses.
Correct:            Most Westerners have long noses.

Incorrect:          I visited her ill mother in the hospital.
Correct:            I visited her sick mother in the hospital.

Incorrect:          She was first prize.
Correct:            She took first prize.

Incorrect:          He lost conciousness for a long time.
Correct:            He was unconcious for a long time.

Incorrect:          He made a world record.
Correct:            He set a world record.

Incorrect:          Her marriage was happy.
Correct:            Her married life was happy.

Incorrect:          My room is narrow.
Correct:            My room is small.

Incorrect:          I'll visit my native place for the first time in ten years this summer.
Correct:            I'll visit my birth place for the first time in ten years this summer.

Incorrect:          Is this seat empty.
Correct:            Is this seat taken.

Incorrect:          I know his face.
Correct:            I know him by sight.

Incorrect:          My watch doesn't move at all. I must get it checked up.
Correct:            My watch isn't running, I must get it checked up.

Correct Response - 

Communication is effective when the right responses are given.  It is often tricky when the questions are oblique. That is to say, they are not given straightforwardly. Some oblique questions may take the negative form. That is why it is important to learn the right or standard responses.

Incorrect:          Would you mind posting this letter for me? Yes, certainly.
Correct:            Would you mind posting this letter for me? Of course not! OR (Not at all!)

Incorrect:          "How long have you been in Taiwan?" "Six months." "How about Chinese food?"
Correct:            "How long have you been in Taiwan?" "Six months." "Do you like Chinese food?"

Adverb Use - 

Adverbs
modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They tell how
something is done. They are often formed by adding -ly to the adjectives. In a series of adverbs, one has to follow the order of adverbs. This is to avoid misplaced and dangling modifiers in the sentences.

Incorrect:          Anywhere will do.
Correct:            Any place will do.

Incorrect:          The general meeting is scheduled to be held this afternoon at three.
Correct:            The general meeting is scheduled to be held at three this afternoon.

Incorrect:          She ran into her boyfriend yesterday morning in Fair Avenue.
Correct:            She ran into her boyfriend in Fair Avenue yesterday morning.

Incorrect:          Maybe I think so.
Correct:            I think so.

Incorrect:          Don't expect me too much.
Correct:            Don't expect too much from (of) me.

Incorrect:          Give me money, if you have.
Correct:            Give me money, if you have any.

Incorrect:          He treated me very friendly.
Correct:            He treated me in a friendly way.

Adjective Use - 

An adjective describes how something is. That is why we usually use the verb "to be" when using adjectives. Adjectives are used to modify nouns. A critical use of adjectives is in showing comparison. There are rules that need to be followed for adjectives to function well in a sentence.

Incorrect:          I felt good mood.
Correct:            I am in a good mood.

Incorrect:          I have no exercise talent.
Correct:            I am not athletic.

Incorrect:          Please allow me more two hours.
Correct:            Please allow me two more hours.

Incorrect:          The quality of these products is more superior than that of the others.
Correct:            The quality of these products is superior to that of the others.

Incorrect:          The standard of living in Japan is higher than Korea.
Correct:            The standard of living in Japan is higher than that in Korea.

Incorrect:          My younger brother is taller than I.
Correct:            My younger brother is taller than me.

Incorrect:          Which of the two girls is the most intelligent.
Correct:            Which of the two girls is more intelligent.

Incorrect:          Which of these two shirts do you prefer more.
Correct:            Which of these two shirts do you prefer.

Incorrect:          No sooner had I arrived home when it began to rain.
Correct:            No sooner had I arrived home than it began to rain.

Incorrect:          Mike found it more easier to work out a math problem than to write a poem.
Correct:            Mike found it easier to work out a math problem than to write a poem.

Conjunction Use - 

Conjunctions link words, phrases, and clauses. One must choose the right conjunction so that ideas or expressions are joined logically and clearly. There are correlating conjunctions, which join words, phrases, and independent clauses. There are also subordinating conjunctions, which introduce a dependent clause and indicate its relationship with the rest of the sentence. There are correlative conjunctions, too, which always appear in pairs. Correlatives are used to link equivalent sentence elements.

Incorrect:          Different from me, she is proficient in English.
Correct:            Unlike me, she is proficient in English.

Incorrect:          Lend me some money, for instance 500 dollars, Monika
Correct:            Lend me some money, say 500 dollars, Monika

Incorrect:          I wanted to go to Europe last summer, but it was too expensive so I gave up to go.
Correct:            I wanted to go to Europe last summer, but it was too expensive so I gave up the idea.

Incorrect:          This is the way how I did it.
Correct:            This is how I did it. or This is the way I did it.

Incorrect:          There was a traffic accident on my way here. It is why I was late.
Correct:            There was a traffic accident on my way here. That is why I was late.

Incorrect:          They didn't understand my mind.
Correct:            They didn't understand what I was thinking.

Incorrect:          Neither they nor I are to blame for this mistake.
Correct:            Neither they nor I am to blame for this mistake.

Passive -

The Anticipatory "IT". This expresses belief or knowledge. It is important that this is used in its proper context to give emphasis to an idea or expression.

Incorrect:          Little children are difficult to understand that.
Correct:            It is difficult for children to understand that.

Incorrect:          As the citizens of China, we are necessary to help the police in their fight against crime.
Correct:            As the citizens of China, it is necessary for us to help the police in their fight against crime.

Incorrect:          We are necessary to help the poor in our community.
Correct:            It is necessary for us to help the poor in our community.

Incorrect:          We are not easy to find a good school in Orlando.
Correct:            It is not easy to find a good school in Orlando.

Incorrect:          It is me who won the first prize last year.
Correct:            It is I who won the first prize last year.

Pronoun Use -  

A pronoun takes the place of a noun that comes before it. An antecedent is the noun that comes before the pronoun. Like a subject must agree with the verb, a pronoun must also agree with the antecedent or vice versa.

Incorrect:          Somebody's knocking on the door. Go and see who he is.
Correct:            Somebody's knocking on the door. Go and see who it is.

Incorrect:          Do you have an automatic camera? Yes I have it.
Correct:            Do you have an automatic camera? Yes, I have one.

Incorrect:          Why do you say like that.
Correct:            Why do you say that.

Incorrect:          My this book cost me nearly 300 dollars.
Correct:            This book of mine cost me nearly 300 dollars.

Verb Use -  

A verb expresses the action in the sentence. That is why they have a very important function in a sentence. One should be careful with verbs. They take many forms and functions. There are verbs or verb phrases that require an -ing form in the complement.

Incorrect:          This is where you mistake.
Correct:            This is where you are mistaken.

Incorrect:          My brother has been busy in preparing for his final examination.
Correct:            My brother has been busy preparing for his final examination.

Incorrect:          Laura has spent half a day to revise her lessons.
Correct:            Laura has spent a half day revising her lessons.

Incorrect:          I am used to watch television with the light on.
Correct:            I am used to watching television with the light on.

Incorrect:          After dinner, my mother suggested to go for a walk.
Correct:            After dinner, my mother suggested going for a walk.

Incorrect:          The government is considering the possibility to build a new airport in Tampa.
Correct:            The government is considering the possibility of building a new airport in Tampa
.

Incorrect:          His new book will be sold well.
Correct:            His new book will sell well.

Incorrect:          I have a lot of work to be done.
Correct:            I have a lot of work to do.

Incorrect:          The children were very dangerous as the knife-wielding madman was running amok in the kindergarten.
Correct:            The children were in great danger as the knife-wielding madman was
running amok in the kindergarten.

Subject-Verb Agreement-  

These are two of the very important elements in a sentence. For this reason, the subject and the verb must agree in number, in person, and in case. One crucial point is determining the subject in the sentence. In some instances, there are intervening words between the two that do not really affect their relationship. There are also instances that the verb agrees with the nearest subject.

Incorrect:          The driver, as well as four passengers, were injured in the head-on collision.
Correct:            The driver, as well as four passengers, was injured in the head-on collision.

Incorrect:          One of my students have sent me a birthday card.
Correct:            One of my students has sent me a birthday card.

Incorrect:          Don is one of the most intelligent students that has ever existed in our school.
Correct:            Don is one of the most intelligent students that have ever existed in our school.

Incorrect:          Snow White and the seven Dwarfs are a very popular fairy tale.
Correct:            Snow White and the seven Dwarfs is a very popular fairy tale.

Incorrect:          Five hundred miles are a long distance.
Correct:            Five hundred miles is a long distance.

Incorrect:          Either you or he are the one who stole the watch.
Correct:            Either you or he is the one who stole the watch.


Gerunds -  

These are verb forms that end in -ing, but they do not function as verbs or action words in the sentence. Instead, they are used as a subject or a complement in the sentence. As a subject, the verb must agree with it in number.

Incorrect:          Reading detective stories are my favorite pastime.
Correct:            Reading detective stories is my favorite pastime.

Participles -  

These are verb forms that may generally end in -ing or -ed, but they do not function as action words in the sentence. Instead, they are used as modifiers. One must be careful with these kinds of modifiers because often they are misplaced or dangling in a sentence.

Incorrect:          Having not finished her housework, Mrs. Smith could not go window-shopping with her friends.
Correct:            Not having finished her housework, Mrs. Smith could not go window-shopping with her friends.

Incorrect:          Comparing with that in China, the standard of living in Hong Kong is very high.
Correct:            Compared with that in China, the standard of living in Hong Kong is very high.

Incorrect:          Finishing his homework, Bee went to the football pitch with her friends.
Correct:            After finishing her homework, Bee went to the football pitch with her friends.

Parallelism -  

This is expressing ideas of equal importance with the same grammatical structures.

Incorrect:          The patient felt much better in the morning than afternoon.
Correct:            The patient felt much better in the morning than in the afternoon.

Incorrect:          Charles loves Angel more than Simpson.
Correct:            Charles loves Angel more than Simpson does.

Word Order or Sentence Structure - 

Words in a sentence must be arranged in such a way that they can express a complete and logical idea. For this reason, it is important that one should follow sentence-patterns construction.

Incorrect:          Anybody is found picking the flowers will be prosecuted.
Correct:            Anybody who is found picking the flowers will be prosecuted.

incorrect:          I do not understand what is he talking about.
Correct:            I do not understand what he is talking about.

Incorrect:          How does she look like?
Correct:            What does she look like?

Incorrect:          How do you think about Taiwan.
Correct:            What do you think about Taiwan.

Incorrect:          How can I do?
Correct:            What can I do?

Incorrect:          I introduce Mr. Smith to you!
Correct:            May I introduce Mr. Smith to you!

Singular/Plural Nouns (Number) - 

Nouns name a place, a person, or a thing. They are classified generally in count and non-count nouns. They have both singular and plural forms. In any kind of noun, the verb must agree with it. In the case of non-count nouns, they use singular and plural expressions to clearly determine their number. Examples of these expressions are "a piece of," "a bar of," "a lot of" among many others.

Incorrect:          There were three thousands of spectators watching the final match.
Correct:            There were three thousand spectators watching the final match.

Incorrect:          I've got many homeworks to do.
Correct:            I've got a lot of homework to do.

Incorrect:          I went shopping at CauseWay Bay yesterday and bought a trousers.
Correct:            I went shopping at CauseWay Bay yesterday and bought a pair of trousers.

Incorrect:          There are more than four million peoples in China.
Correct:            There are more than four million people in China.

Incorrect:          Would you give me some advices before I go to the interview.
Correct:            Would you give me some advice before I go to the interview.

Incorrect:          Hurricane Andrew has caused widespread damages to the crops.
Correct:            Hurricane Andrew has caused widespread damage to the crops.

Redundancy/Unnecessary Phrases - 

Simple, direct sentences is key to effective communication. That is why it is important that one express one's ideas concisely and vividly. Avoid repeating the same ideas in different words or putting phrases that are not needed in the sentence.

Incorrect:          It's seven twenty o'clock.
Correct:            It's seven twenty.

Incorrect:          I am going back my home.
Correct:            I am going home.

Incorrect:          I like green color.
Correct:            I like green.

Incorrect:          She is wearing blue jeans pants.
Correct:            She is wearing blue jeans.

Incorrect:          We moved house to Winter Park last month.
Correct:            We moved to Winter Park last month.

Incorrect:          I will do anything I can do for you.
Correct:            I will do anything I can for you.

 

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