The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by Learners of English – Part 2

Here I come with Part 2 for The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by Learners of English. If you’ve just seen this, check also The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by Learners of English – Part 1.

Read until the end if you want to find my tips on how to spot mistakes and correct them.

6. Since or For

My students make this mistake all the time and it’s understandable because “since” and “for” are used quite similarly with present perfect (simple or continuous).

  •  “Since” refers to a moment/point in time in the past a particular year, a date, a life event (e.g birthday)

Anne has lived in Monaco since 2014 (or since she was born).

She has been studying English since June.

  • For” refers to a period of time in the past, present or future, measured in numbers of years, months, days or other time expressions (a few years, a while, some time, a long time).

in the past: He lived in Paris for 10 years and then moved to Nice.

began in the past and continuing in the present: Anne has been studying English for a few months. 

future plans: They’re going to stay at their friends for a couple of days.

7. Interested vs. interesting; excited vs. exciting etc.

I hear this when my students talk about themselves or their holidays and sometimes it sounds funny 🙂 To be interested is not the same as being interesting.

Interesting, exciting and all adjectives ending in ing describe situations (sometimes people, too), while interested, excited and all adjectives ending in –ed describe how you feel as a consequence of the situation.

The book you read is interesting. —>>> (as a consequence) >>> You are interested in reading the book.

The holiday in India was exciting. —>>> (as a consequence) >>> You felt excited when you were on holiday.

You can also describe a person as being interesting or boring, although the adjectives ending in -ing describe situations more than people.

! Watch out how you spell exciting or excited: x is followed by c!

8. My friend and I; My friend and me

Let’s start by saying that “I” is always written in capital letter. Students who have just started studying English or those that don’t write often in English overlook this rule.

And then which expression is correct: “My friend and I” or “My friend and me”?

Well, it depends where these expressions are in the sentence and their role: I am the subject of the sentence, but the object of the sentence is me.

  • if the expression is the subject of the sentence, then we say: My friend and I came back home really late.
  • if the expression is the object of the sentence, then we say: They saw my friend and me outside the pub.

You’re probably wondering if we can say: I and my friend or me and my friend. Apparently, they’re also correct but the first expressions are more polite (as we never put ourselves first) and are more common.

In informal speaking, you will also hear Me and my friends went to the concert, although My friends and I went … is considered to be more correct.

9. My friend she moved to Paris.

One very common error for learners of English is to use a noun and a pronoun to refer to the same person or thing in the same clause. Remember that you should use one or the other, not both. If you are not sure if you need a pronoun, try replacing it with the whole noun and see if the sentence still makes sense:

My friend she moved to Paris.    —–     My friend moved to Paris.

The weather it is good today.  —–     The weather is good today.

10. a homework, furnitures, an advice, informations, a news, a travel, a weather? Nope…

The last on my list is the tricky case of uncountable nouns in English. The ones above are a few uncountable nouns my students make mistakes with.

What is an uncountable noun? An uncountable noun cannot be counted, it doesn’t have a plural. You can’t say one information – two informations.  Uncountable nouns take a singular verb and don’t take the article ‘a’ or ‘an’.

Some examples of uncountable nouns are liquids (water, milk), powders, grains, spices (flour, rice, sugar, salt, pepper), abstract ideas (time, money, love, knowledge) and many more.

Now how can we use these nouns?

You can say a piece of information; the same for advicea piece of advice or furniture – a piece of furniture/an item of furniture, news – a piece/a bit of news. You can also use “some” with homework, furniture, advice, information, news, not with travel or weather though.

A lot of my travel is business related.     We had bad weather last week.

That’s the end of my post. Find my tips for spotting mistakes and correcting them here.

Make sure to check Part 1 of The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by Learners of English, write to me if you found it useful and send me more questions; I’ll do my best to help you. I’d love to hear from you! 🙂




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