Most Common Mistakes in English Grammer
Hello there. Welcome to All Exams Guru. This lesson will help you to speak and write correct English. We will look at 50 of the most common mistakes made by learners of English and how to avoid them.
We are going to cover errors in subject-verb., the agreement, question formation, irregular verbs, the very important tenses, modal verbs, conditionals, adjectives, prepositions, articles, and more.
We have a lot to learn, so let’s get started. Alright, let’s begin with subject-verb agreement.
Here’s our first sentence: “He have two sisters.”
Is that correct?
No, it should be “He has two sisters.”
The rule is that if the subject is ‘I’, ‘You’, ‘We’, ‘They’, or any other plural noun, then we use the verb in its present tense form, and we don’t add –s to the verb. But if the subject is ‘He’, ‘She’, ‘It’ or any singular noun, then we add –s to the verb.
So what about this sentence?
“Many people likes to go on vacation in the summer.”
Here, we should say “Many people like to go on vacation in the summer.”
We have a plural subject – ‘many people’ so the verb should not have an –s.
Next one: “Jacob and Sophie lives in Los Angeles.”
The correct sentence is “Jacob and Sophie live in Los Angeles.”
Even though Jacob is an individual and Sophie is also one individual, together, Jacob and Sophie are a plural subject – so we don’t add–s to the verb.
Sentence number four is “There is ten apples in the basket.”
It should be “There are ten apples in the basket.”
– The subject of this sentence is not ‘there’ (that’s just a dummy subject). The real subject is the phrase ‘ten apples’. So the verb should be ‘are’. If there was only apple, you would say “There
is an apple in the basket.”
Number five: “Everyone know that the sun rises in the east.”
So, what’s the correction?
“Everyone knows that the sun rises in the east.”
This is because ‘everyone is actually a singular subject.
Now, you might be thinking – wait a minute – everyone refers to all the people, so it’s a plural. But, it’s not.
In English grammar, the pronouns that you see on the screen are all singular – they are not plural – keep that in mind.
Let’s move on now to our next topic – Question Formation.
Here’s the first one: “You went to the beach yesterday?”
That’s a common mistake.
You should ask, “Did you go to the beach yesterday?”
In questions, we put the helping or auxiliary verb first.
This can be a verb like – be, have, can, will, would etc. If there is no helping verb we add ‘do’. I’ve said ‘did’ here because this sentence talks about the past (yesterday).
After the auxiliary verb comes the subject (you), then the main verb in its base form – ‘go’.
So “Did you go to the beach yesterday?” is correct.
Next sentence: “Where I can buy a cell phone charger?”
The correct question is “Where can I buy a cell phone charger?”
This is just like the previous question but it has a question word. So we put that at the beginning.
Sentence number eight is “Do you know who is that woman?”
It should be “Do you know who that woman is?”
If you start a question with “Do you know”, “May I ask”, “Can you tell me” etc. then we call it an indirect question (which is more polite).
For this type of question, we don’t change the word order.
We first put the question word, then the subject, and then an auxiliary verb if we have one, and then the main verb.
Alright, let’s now turn to errors in the
Our first sentence is “I am working as a teacher.”
This is wrong.
“I work as a teacher.”
Use the present simple tense to talk about your occupation or other permanent situation.
For example: “Shobha lives in New Delhi.”
You only use the present continuous tense (that is an –ing form) for actions that are happening right now: “I am talking.”
“They’re walking in the park.”
“He is eating a sandwich” etc.
Here’s a similar error: “I am having a large family.”
You should say: “I have a large family.”
Because, again, this expresses a general situation, not an action that I’m doing right now.
What about this sentence: “I don’t think she is recognizing me.”
It should be: I don’t think she recognizes
Even though this might be happening at the moment of speaking, with some verbs we don’t use –ing forms. Instead, we prefer to use the present simple tense with these because they are not physical actions. Such verbs are called ‘state verbs’ because they express a state or situation – you see some of the common ones on the screen – remember that we use them in the present simple tense.
Next sentence: “Lucas is working here for three years.”
The correct form is “Lucas has been working here for three years.”
If an action or a situation started in the past, and it’s still continuing, you need to use the present perfect continuous tense (with have been or has been plus the verb in –ing form).
So how about this?
“We’ve been waiting for you since two hours.”
Well, it looks like it’s a correct sentence – it’s in the present perfect continuous tense. But can you spot the error?
It should be “We’ve been waiting for you for two hours.”
You use ‘since’ if you mention the exact time that the action started – “We’ve been waiting for you since 5 o’clock.” But if you say the duration (that is, the amount of time), you use ‘for’.
Here’s sentence number fourteen: “Uma went to the market and buy a lot of groceries yesterday.”
How do you correct it?
“Uma went to the market and bought a lot of groceries yesterday.”
There are two separate actions (went to the market and bought groceries) and both of them happened in the past. So don’t forget to apply the correct tense to all the verbs in a sentence.
Number fifteen: “I have graduated from college in 2014.”
You should say “I graduated from college in 2014.” If you mention the time when something happened (like ‘in 2014’), you should use the past simple tense and not the present perfect. I’ve also heard people say:
“I have sent you an email yesterday.”
– you’re saying ‘yesterday’, so you should say “I sent you an email yesterday.” Or you can just say “I have sent you an email.” and I will understand that you sent it recently. Alright, next sentence:
“We didn’t receive the package yet.”
This should be “We haven’t received the package yet.”
because ‘yet’ means until now – we are not mentioning any specific time here. So you should use the present perfect and not the past simple.
Next one: “I come and see you in your office tomorrow.”
Obviously, this is a future tense sentence and it’s a promise to do something, so “I’ll come and see you in your office tomorrow.” is correct.
Sentence number eighteen is “We will get married on the 8th of September.”
Very common error.
Can you correct it?
It should be “We’re getting married on the 8th of September.” or “We’re going to get married…” This is because for fixed arrangements in the future, we don’t use ‘will’ – we either use the present continuous tense (that’s the more common form) or we can use ‘going to’.
Let’s now move on and talk about verb forms.
Here’s the first one: “When Abdul took out his wallet, his keys fallen out.”
The correction is “When Abdul took out his wallet, his keys fell out.”
In the past simple tense, you should use the past simple form (the second form) of the verb (also called V2 by some teachers).
Next sentence: “Have you ever went to see a movie by yourself?”
The tense is correct but the verb form is wrong. “Have you ever gone to see a movie by yourself?” is correct. In the present perfect tense, the past participle, or third form (V3) should be used. Number twenty-one is “I didn’t eat anything at the restaurant because I wasn’t hungry.
” You should say, “I didn’t eat anything at the restaurant.” I see this mistake a lot. In negative sentences in the present simple, past simple, or future simple that is, after don’t, didn’t or won’t, we must use the base form of the verb, not the past tense form.
Number twenty-two: “Vicki spended all her money within a week.”
Not spended, spent.
The verb ‘spend’ is irregular, meaning that the past form does not have an –ed ending. There are many irregular verbs in English like buy, eat, speak, think, and so on. You can only learn them through experience, so you should memorize as many as you can.
Alright, our next topic is modal verbs.
The first sentence is: “He could running fast when he was younger.”
You should say “He could run fast when he was younger.”
After any modal verb, you should use a verb in its base form.
Next one: “Smoking is prohibited in this building.
That means you don’t have to smoke here.”
The correction is “Smoking is prohibited in this building. That means you mustn’t smoke here” or ‘you cannot smoke here. ‘To say that something is not allowed, you need to use ‘mustn’t’ or ‘cannot.
Next, we look at an area where errors are
very common: conditionals.
“If I will hear about any job openings, I will let you know.”
Did you spot the error?
It should be “If I hear about any job openings, I will let you know.”
The first clause, “If I hear about any job openings” is the condition – here, we don’t use ‘will’. We use it in the result – “I will let you know.”
– that’s correct.
What about this: “If I have wings, I will fly all over the world.”
It should be “If I had wings, I would fly all over the world.” The first conditional – with the present simple tense in the condition and ‘will’ in the result is used only for real situations. This situation is not real – I cannot have wings. So it’s imaginary or unreal.
For this, we use the past tense throughout the sentence to show that it’s just imagination (notice that we’ve said ‘If I had wings’ in the condition and ‘I would fly’ in the result).
Next one: “If I knew it was your birthday yesterday, I would have bought you a present.”
Well, this is mostly correct but there’s a problem with the condition. We need to say “If I had known it was your birthday yesterday, I would have bought you a present.” This is the correct structure for past conditionals – ‘had’ plus past participle verb in the condition and ‘would have in the result.
Our next topic is errors in adjectives.
Here’s a common mistake: “I am really interesting in sports cars.”
You should say “I am really interested in sports cars.”
When you need to decide between the –ed and –ing forms of an adjective, remember this: the –ing adjective shows the reason or cause.
The –ed adjective shows the result or the effect.
So “Sports cars are interesting, and I am interested in sports cars.”
In the same way, “The lecture was boring, so the students were bored.”
Here’s number twenty-nine: “Your English is more better than mine.”
The correction is “Your English is better than mine.” The word ‘better’ is the comparative form of ‘good’ – it already means ‘more good’, so don’t say ‘more better’, ‘more bigger’ etc. Now, some adjectives like ‘beautiful’ don’t have –er comparative forms. So you would say ‘more beautiful’ or ‘more important’. It’s a good idea for you to memorize the correct comparative and superlative forms of common adjectives.
Alright, what about this sentence: “Neeraj is more tall than Pradeep.”
Here, we need to say “Neeraj is taller than Pradeep.” because the adjective ‘tall’ has a comparative form that is made by adding –er: ‘taller’.
Next one: “There are less libraries today compared to ten years ago.”
This error is made even by native speakers of English. This should be “There are fewer libraries today compared to ten years ago.” The word ‘less’ is used with uncountable nouns – so you can say ‘less milk’, ‘less sugar’, ‘less money’, ‘less information’ etc. but with countable nouns, you need to use ‘fewer’: ‘fewer chairs’, ‘fewer students’, ‘fewer buildings’, ‘fewer jobs’ and so on.
OK, let’s now turn to errors in the use of prepositions.
“The concert had already started when we arrived in the venue.”
This should be “The concert had already started when we arrived at the venue.”
One reason that prepositions are so tricky for people learning English is that there can be different rules different verbs for which prepositions to use. With the verb ‘arrive’, we use ‘at’
to talk about reaching a place. But if we’re talking about a city or a country, then we use ‘in’ – as in “The team arrived in England a few hours ago.”
Next sentence: “You are not listening me.”
What’s the mistake here?
Well, we need to say “You are not listening to me.” After the verb ‘listen’, remember to put ‘to’.
Next one: “Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan live at New York.”
This is wrong because it needs to be ‘live in New York.’ For permanent situations like living, working or studying in a city or country, we use the preposition ‘in’. But we use ‘at’ when we talk about living
at an address – “Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan live at 25, Dexter Avenue, Queens, New York.”
for example. If you are a student, you study at a university. If you work, you can work at or for a specific company – both prepositions are OK. Here’s a similar mistake: “I was born
on 1985.” It should be “I was born in 1985.” because we say ‘in’ with months and years.
You might say for example: “It rains a lot here in August.”
But if you mention a specific date, then say ‘on’: “I was born on October 8, 1985.”
What about this sentence: “Don’t go out in the night.
It’s not very safe.” This is wrong because we have to say ‘at night’. Now, we say ‘in the morning’, ‘in the afternoon’ and ‘in the evening’ but ‘at night.’
Next: “Keith is married with a math teacher.”
It should be “Keith is married to a math teacher.”
With the verb ‘marry’, we always use ‘to’ and not ‘with’. Let’s move on and talk about errors with plurals.
“The childrens are playing outside.”
What’s the mistake?
It’s ‘children’, not ‘childrens’.
We say ‘child’ if there’s only one, and ‘children’ if there’s more than one child.
This type of plural is called an irregular plural because you can’t just add ‘s’ to the singular form. You see some other common ones on the screen. You should memorize these and other common
irregular plurals to avoid mistakes.
Next sentence: “Passengers must check in their luggages at the airport.”
Here’s the correction: “Passengers must check-in their luggage at the airport.”
The reason is that ‘luggage’ is an uncountable noun, so you cannot say ‘one luggage’, ‘two luggages’ etc. But you can say ‘one piece of luggage’, ‘two pieces of luggage’ and so on.
Similarly: “The factory has all the latest equipments.”
Common mistake: it should be ‘equipment’ not ‘equipments’ because equipment is an uncountable noun. But, again, you can say ‘one piece of equipment’, ‘two pieces of equipment’ etc.
And now we turn to another area that gives English learners a lot of problems: articles.
Here’s the first sentence: “I am programmer specializing in website development.”
Is something missing here?
Well, we need to say “I am a programmer.” The noun ‘programmer’ is a common noun – it refers to a category or type of person. If you have a singular common noun, you should always put ‘a’ or ‘an’ before it.
Next one: “Hannah studies at an university.”
This sentence looks correct but it’s not.
Here’s the correction: Hannah studies at
But, hold on, you might be thinking – ‘university’ starts with ‘u’ which is a vowel, so we should put ‘an’ before it, right?
The rule is that you put ‘an’ before a vowel sound, not a vowel letter. The word ‘university’ starts with a /y/ sound.
We don’t say ‘ooniversity.’
We say ‘university’.
The /y/ sound is a consonant sound, so no ‘an’ before ‘university’.
OK, what about this sentence: “Frank Sinatra is best singer I have ever heard.”
This needs to be “Frank Sinatra is the best singer I have ever heard.”
Any superlative form – ‘the best’, ‘the worst’, ‘the hottest’, ‘the coldest’, ‘the most expensive’, ‘the least important’ etc. needs to have ‘the’ before it.
Here’s another extremely common error: “I need an advice from you about buying a guitar.”
Here, we need to say “I need some advice from you” or, we can just say “I need your advice about buying a guitar.”
‘Advice’ is an uncountable noun and we don’t use a or an before uncountable nouns.
Now, English can be a crazy language sometimes – ‘idea’ is considered countable but ‘advice’ is considered uncountable. So you can say ‘an idea’ but you cannot say ‘an advice’.
OK, sentence number forty-five is “The teachers should be friendly to their students.”
The correct sentence is: “Teachers should be friendly to their students.”
This is because we are making a general statement here, and to generalize with plurals such as ‘teachers’ we don’t use ‘the’. And finally, our last topic is errors in vocabulary – that is, in word choice.
Here’s the first one: “He said me that he needed some money.”
This can be either “He told me that he needed some money.” or “He said that he needed some money.”
The verb ‘say’ does not take an indirect object – that means, you cannot say ‘said me’, ‘said him’ and so on.
So what about this next sentence: “Cara told that she had applied for the manager’s job.”
Well, this should be “Cara said that” or “Cara told me that she had applied for the manager’s job.”
The verb ‘tell’ usually needs an indirect object like ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’ etc.
Alright, here’s the next one: “According to me, this is the best restaurant in town.”
You should say: “In my opinion, this is the best restaurant in town.”
You can say ‘according to’ when you wasn’t to give someone else’s opinion; it’s wrong to use it to give your own opinion.
Number forty-nine: “I met Scott for the first time in Geneva ten years before.”
It should be ‘ten years ago’. When we mention an amount of time in the past, we use ‘ago’ and not ‘before’ – you can say ‘ten years ago’, ‘two months ago’, ‘a few weeks ago’, ‘five minutes ago’ etc.
And here’s the last sentence in our lesson: “Most of people have a computer at home these days.”
Can you identify the error?
Well, the error is saying ‘most of’. Just say “Most people have a computer at home these days.”
When we are talking generally, we always say ‘most people’, ‘most students’, ‘most homeowners’ etc. If you are talking about a specific group, then you can say ‘most of the’: “Most of the students in my class passed the exam.” or as the teacher, I would say “Most of my students passed the exam with flying colors.” OK, how many of these 50 mistakes did you identify and correct?
Let me know in the comments section below.