Home > Learning Material > Ten common English mistakes and how to fix them (via Livemocha)

Ten common English mistakes and how to fix them (via Livemocha)

Please read this great blog article from Livemocha about ten common mistakes by English learners and how to correct them: http://livemocha.com/blog/2012/07/13/10-common-mistakes-english-learners-make-and-how-to-fix-them/


1. Mixing up “in” and “on” with modes of transportation

You get in a car.  You get on everything else. (I got on the plane/bus/train/motorcycle/boat.)  Remember, a taxi is a kind of car, so you get in a taxi.


2. Confusing “in time” with “on time”

“On time” = punctually

Example:  I get to work on time.  I am never late.

“In time” = before a deadline or a time limit expires

Example: I got to the bus stop in time.  The bus was just about to leave.


3. Ending a sentence with a contraction 

INCORRECT: A: Are you happy? B: Yes, I’m.

CORRECT: A: Are you happy?  B: Yes, I am.

While it is normally fine to contract “I” and “am”, you cannot do it at the end of a sentence.  This holds true for all contractions.

4.  Confusing “would like” with “like”

Compare these two examples:

would like to go swimming.  <–This is something that you want to do at some point in the future.

like to go swimming.  <–This is something that you enjoy and do on a regular basis.


5. Forgetting to use a determiner in front of a singular count noun

EVERY singular count noun must be preceded by some kind of determiner.  Some types of determiners are articles (a, an, the), possessive adjectives (my, your, his), and demonstratives (this, that, these, those).

Here’s a quick determiner test.  Let’s look at the noun “dog”.  Is it singular?  (Yes, there is only one.)  Is it countable?  (Yes – one dog, two dogs, three dogs…)  Then it MUST have a determiner.  Don’t let your singular count nouns go naked!

INCORRECT: I saw dog outside.

CORRECT: I saw a dog outside.  I saw your dog outside.  I saw that dog outside.


6. Using “the” in front of indefinite plural nouns

INCORRECT: I went to the mall to buy the clothes.

CORRECT: I went to the mall to buy clothes.   OR  I went to the mall to buy some clothes.  (“Some” simply means an unspecified amount.)

We don’t use “the” because we are talking about clothes in general.

If you were to add some information to specify what clothes, then you could use “the”.

Example: I went to the mall to buy the clothes that my mother had picked out for me earlier.


7. Counting noncount nouns

Noncount nouns can only be measured in units.  Some common noncount nouns involve categories, fluids, solids, gases, particles, and abstractions.  For this type of noun, you count the unit, not the noun.

INCORRECT: I bought three breads.

CORRECT: I bought three loaves of bread.

8. Making a noun plural when using it as an adjective

INCORRECT: I had vegetables soup for dinner.

CORRECT: I had vegetable soup for dinner.

While the soup may have a lot of vegetables in it, when you use a noun as an adjective, it must always be singular.

9. Using “for” and “since” interchangeably

“Since” is used with a point in time. Example: I have been here since 9:00 a.m.

“For” is used with duration of time. Example: I have been here for five hours.


10. Mixing up “I used to” with “I am used to”

I used to = I did something in the past, but I don’t anymore

Example: I used to climb trees when I was a kid.  (I no longer climb trees.)

I am used to = I am accustomed to

Example: I am used to living in the desert.  The heat doesn’t bother me.

  1. 18/07/2012 at 1:31 PM

    I usually do many of these mistakes when i were in hurry 🙂

    • 18/07/2012 at 6:36 PM

      It’s understandable. Hopefully this article can help you.

  2. translationsareus
    18/07/2012 at 3:37 PM

    Thank you! I followed your blog with great interest and your tips and tricks of/for the language help me a lot. 🙂

    • 18/07/2012 at 6:37 PM

      Thank you very much for reading. Glad it’s helpful. Please feel free to contact me with comments or questions.

      • translationsareus
        18/07/2012 at 7:00 PM

        Thank you! I certainly will 🙂

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