Common grammatical errors are the greatest stumbling block to English fluency, however, the good news is that because these mistakes are so typical, an article like this can help you to overcome these challenges and help you to ace your English grammar.
The most common mistakes in English occur when rules regarding word order, punctuation, pronouns, and verb conjugation are broken.
English Grammar Rules for Verbs
Compared to other languages, English verbs are less tricky but can still cause common grammatical errors. For second language students who are not used to verbs changing with time and tense, the rules for English verbs can be confounding!
Try these two tips to help eliminate mistakes with verbs and help you to grow in confidence with regards to English grammar rules.
Present, future, and past tenses are used to demonstrate that something is happening, will happen, or has happened.
- We are actors.
- This sentence indicates a current state.
- We were actors.
- This sentence shows that the group are no longer actors.
- We will be actors next year.
- This sentence means that this group of people will only begin working as actors in the future.
There’s actually a lot to know about how tenses affect English grammar rules.
Common Grammatical Errors With the Use of Progressive Tenses
One of the common mistakes in English regarding tenses is the progressive tense which can easily confuse a non-native English student.
I am learn German, instead of, I am learning German.
I was go to university, instead of, I was going to university.
I will be study German, instead of, I will be studying German.
Download this helpful list of verb tenses, here.
Common Grammatical Errors and Irregular Verbs
Other common mistakes in English include the misuse of irregular verbs. Fortunately, there are good online resources on the subject of irregular verbs for second language English students. Alternatively, you could find a private English tutor near you to assist you at your own pace.
Common grammatical errors also occur when using irregular pronouns.
Neither boy brought their book to class.
Neither means not one or the other, so it is obvious that to use the plural pronoun “their” is wrong.
Neither boy brought his pen to class, would be correct.
This example demonstrates the relationship between pronoun and subject which is something that can easily be confusing when you learn English grammar.
Vocabulary Errors in English and Ways to Correct Them
I am literally so happy I could explode!
‘Literally’ is often voiced as an extreme account of something.
It was literally the most beautiful music I've ever heard.
While popular at the moment in everyday use, it is a good example of how using incorrect vocabulary can lead to misunderstanding.
You might enjoy particular music in that way, but it’s unlikely it could cause you to explode from happiness.
Immersing in a language does mean picking up colloquialisms, however, if good English foundations are your goal, try and steer away from these common grammatical errors until you have fully mastered the language.
Pronunciation Solutions for English Second Language Students
Another one of the common mistakes in English is concerning pronunciation, however, with so much technology at our disposal, this is one of the ways this can be solved
Through listening to podcasts from the British Council, you will improve your pronunciation and become more familiar with English grammar rules. This site works by inviting listeners to listen to ordinary, everyday conversations by native English speakers. If this works for you, download the transcripts and follow along with the dialogue.
If you have decided to earnestly learn English grammar, you can be reassured that podcasts like these will have ways to deliberately address common errors in English and ways to correct them!
Frustrating Spelling Type Errors in English and Ways to Correct Them
Advice and Advise
English vocabulary has a frustrating selection of word pairs that are basically the same, except for a letter.
An example of this is advice and advise.
Practice and practise are another, but how does one understand this?
Well, in these instances, both advice and practice are indeed nouns that can also be used as adjectives:
I should follow the advice of my German teacher.
I should take some practice tests before the final exam.
Contrast those with:
My German teachers have advised me to practise my grammar.
Notice that the words go from c to s when they change their purpose from either verb or noun, in the sentence.
Farther and Further
We have to run 20 meters farther to the beach.
I want to further my German studies by taking a conversational German course.
In the first example, distance is used; in the second, a measurable quantity is not given.
Today’s modern, short-form communication has a disregard for the proper use of punctuation. If you are want to learn English grammar, you should be aware of both how this can create errors in English and ways to correct them.
Your taking German classes.
Your is a possessive pronoun, which has been incorrectly used in this case. It would be correct to write it like this:
Your taking German classes is going to really improve your German.
Let’s take a close look at this sentence:
You're taking German classes!
Apostrophes represent possession, however, they are also used to abbreviate or contract like in the example above. abbreviations or contractions – as is intended in the sentence above. It is vital to study how to correctly use apostrophes and other punctuation correctly.
One of the best ways to study any language, including English is to learn English grammar through a private tutor. Not only will you improve quickly but you will be personally shown how to quickly identify errors in English and ways to correct them.
Through this technique, you will also hone your capacity to actually tune your ear in to punctuation and then be able to use it while articulating yourself verbally. Bear in mind that both exclamation and question marks are easy to hear in speech, but quotation marks, for example, are not. Do keep it all in mind because by using punctuation when you speak, you can increase the comprehension of the listener!
In fact, punctuation can make such a difference that you may even see some English natives make use of the quirky habit of using their fingers to make quotation marks in the air, to emphasise a point!
Correct Word Order
In English, there is a general rule to follow when it comes to positioning words to form a sentence.
Subject +verb+ object, unless you are phrasing questions.
Having said this, remember that to recognise errors in English and ways to correct them, you will need to know the many exceptions in the language. The only way to do this is to concentrate on your English grammar rules and exceptions and consider a private tutor if you are able.
When it comes to English grammar rules concerning how to position adjectives in the right order, it’s worth emphasising that this can take practice until you are able to string a series of adjectives together like an English-speaking person.
Expressing importance in English is an area of the language worth practising with your teacher. Consider this sentence as an example:
I love my husband, James Bond, and the King of England.
The problem here is that this sentence lacks a comma after the word Bond, which leaves the reader to wonder whether the writer’s parents are indeed such celebrities.
Actually, the issue of the Oxford comma in English circles is causing a stir because some scholars would argue that the sentence should, in fact, be written like this:
I love the King of England, James Bond, and my husband.
By changing the word order, it does remove the necessity for a serial comma, however, it also shows that the writer’s husband is of less importance than the other members on the list!
If this sounds complex, don’t forget that the more you learn English grammar and practise how to speak, the faster you will become fluent and therefore able to identify the errors in English and ways to correct them.
If learning English online is something that interests you, you could find a tutor anywhere in South Africa and even the world to take you through the complexities of some of the common mistakes in English mentioned in this article.
Also, remember that language learning can be fun and creative, so find interesting ways to really immerse in the language, which could include the following:
- Read English children’s books
- Find an English language buddy
- Listen to English podcasts
- Watching English TV shows
- Read English newspapers
All of these activities will help to learn English grammar and advance your vocabulary while assisting you at the same time to pick up the many subtle nuances related to speaking English!