common mistakes in English

by | Mar 1, 2019 | Online education, Tips for Students

A good way to improve your level is to be aware of the common mistakes in English that students often make. Here at Break into English our native teachers always correct errors in class – so that you don’t continue to make them. However, over the years we have noticed that our Skype learners tend to produce similar errors during their online classes which is something that you should try to avoid. Here is a list of 5 common mistakes in English with examples (and corrections!). See if you can spot the typical errors and correct them yourself.

common mistakes in English

  • Common Mistakes with Prepositions

This is at the top of the list because prepositions are very hard to get the hang of in English, especially if you have similar expressions in your first language. Typical errors in English with prepositions are related to phrasal verbs. Other mistakes happen when English language learners translate directly from their first language.  A third common mistake in English related to prepositions is the form of the verb following a preposition: normally prepositions are followed by the –ING form.

      1. The annual conference is on May.❌ → The conference is IN May✔️
      2. It depends of my boss.❌ → It depends ON my boss✔️
      3. She prefers to have breakfast before to clean her teeth ❌ → She prefers to have breakfast before CLEANING her teeth✔️
      4. He thinks in money all the time. ❌→ He thinks ABOUT money all the time✔️.
      5. We need to focus in the current crisis. ❌→ We need to focus ON the current crisis✔️
      6. After to visit them we went back to the hotel❌ → After VISITING them we went back to the hotel. ✔️


  • Incorrect Verb Form

If your first language is French you will probably find that you confuse the simple and continuous forms of verbs and are not sure when to use them. Remember that the present continuous is for something that is happening now (today, this week, this term etc.). Similarly, the past continuous is for something that was happening then (that day, last week that year etc.). The simple forms of the verb describe a routine, you can use adverbs of frequency with the simple forms.  If you use the incorrect verb form in English the meaning of your sentence is open to misinterpretation.

    1. Ilaria: “What do you do?” Clover: “I am finishing my project.” ❌ → Ilaria: “What do you do?” Clover: I am a project manager. ✔️
    2. Actually I am living in Paris ❌→ Currently I live in Paris. ✔️

Another typical mistake in English is the use or misuse of the perfect tenses. Bear in mind that the present perfect connects something in the past with the present.

      1. I am living here since August ❌→ I have lived here since August.✔️ (I started living here in August. I still live here now).
      2. (At 11:30 am) I already had 3 coffees this morning❌ → I have already had 3 coffees this morning ✔️ (I had a coffee in the past this morning- it is still this morning now)

Common mistakes in English many students make


  • Incorrect Use of Question Structure

If you are using reported speech to tell somebody about a question somebody asked you, you are not asking a question as you talk and you do not need to use question structure. This is a very common mistake in English that speakers from all over the world make. Another typical mistake is using question structure after ‘Do you know’.

      1. He asked me where do I work. ❌→ He asked me where I worked.✔️
      2. I want to ask you how do I complete the project ❌→ I want to ask you how to complete the project.✔️
      3. Do you know what is it? ❌→ Do you know what it is?✔️


  • Mistakes in the Formation of the Interrogative

Our dynamic method at Break into English includes lots of practice forming questions. We make sure our students are confident and competent when it comes to the formation of the interrogative.  There are three basic kinds of questions; yes/no questions, why questions and question tags. Each of these question types is complicated in its own way and people often make mistakes.

      1. It’s on Tuesday, no? ❌→ It’s on Tuesday, isn’t it? ✔️(question tag)
      2. She is ready? ❌→ Is she ready?✔️
      3. Whose this is? ❌→ Whose is this? ✔️


  • The verb to be – one of the most common mistakes in English  

There is a lot of room for error in English with the verb due to its many uses.

Typical mistakes involve the conjugation (am/is/are or was/were) and the misuse of the verb in places where it doesn’t belong. Another of the common mistakes in English is not using the verb to be and using have instead.

    1. People from Yorkshire is very friendly ❌→ People from Yorkshire ARE very friendly.✔️
    2. Are you agree with me?❌ → Do you agree with me?✔️
    3. She is going to get a sweater, she has cold ❌→ She is going to get a sweater, she IS cold.✔️

So how did you do? Did you manage to correct the mistakes? Do you think you will avoid these typical errors in English in the future? If you would like to try a class with one of our native teachers, sign up for a free trial and see how we can help you with more than just the common mistakes in English. All you need to do is sign up here: https://englishclassviaskype.com/trial-lesson/