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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanG6

10 Common Mistakes That Native English Speakers Make

10 Common Mistakes That Native English Speakers Make
by Paul Jorgensen (LangFocus)
https://youtu.be/vGDb-fbvJmQ

  1. Unclear subject number
    (wrong) Every one of those people need to buy a ticket.
    (right) Every one of those people needs to buy a ticket.

  2. Confusing Homophones when writing
    Homophones: words that sound the same as other words which have a different meaning (and maybe different spelling).
    affect vs effect
    their vs there vs they're
    your vs you're
    Writing "of" instead of "'ve"
    (wrong) I would of gone to the party if I'd had time.
    (right) I would've gone to the party if I'd had time.

  3. Confusion of adjectives and adverbs
    Using an adjective instead of an adverb is a common mistake.
    (wrong) He sang really good.
    (right) He sang really well.
    People sometimes use an adverb when an adjective is needed.
    (wrong) I feel very badly about that.
    (right) I feel very bad about that.
    "Feel" is a stative verb. Stative verbs are followed by adjectives.

  4. Double negatives
    (wrong) I don't have no money, man.
    (right) I don't have any money, man.
    (wrong) I didn't talk to nobody.
    (right) I didn't talk to anybody.

  5. Not using the subjunctive mood
    The subjunctive mood is a special form of the verb used for something non-factual, like possibility, desire, or necessity.
    (wrong) It's important that he goes to the hospital.
    (right) It's important that he go to the hospital.
    (wrong) If I was rich.
    (right) If I were rich.

  6. Confusion of "is" and "are"
    Common confusion between "there is" and "there are", and between "here is" and "here are".
    (wrong) Here's 3 cookies for you.
    (right) Here are 3 cookies for you.
    (wrong) There's around 7 people at the party.
    (right) There are around 7 people at the party.

  7. Confusion of "lie" and "lay"
    "Lie" is an intransitive verb (it doesn't take a direct object)
    (wrong) Let's lay on the bed.
    (right) Let's lie on the bed.
    "Lay" is a transitive verb, (takes a direct object)
    (right) Let's lay the laundry on the bed.
    Base form | Past form | Past participle
    lie | lay | lain
    lay | laid | laid
    (wrong) He lied on the floor.
    (wrong) He laid on the floor.
    (right) He lay on the floor.

  8. Confusion of "fewer" and "less"
    "Fewer" is used for count nouns.
    "Less" is used for non-count nouns.
    But people often use "less" for count nouns.
    (wrong) I eat less cookies than I used to.
    (right) I eat fewer cookies than I used to.

  9. Confusing the past form and past participle of irregular verbs
    Base form | Past form | Past participle
    go | went | gone
    (wrong) I should have went to the party.
    (right) I should have gone to the party.
    drink | drank | drunk
    (wrong) He's already drank 2 beers and it's only 4pm.
    (right) He's already drunk 2 beers and it's only 4pm.

  10. Misuse of the word "literally"
    These days people often say "literally" just to put emphasis on something that's not actually literal. "Literally" means that something in reality is exactly as spoken, without metaphor or exaggeration.
    She literally has thousands of pairs of shoes.
    That guy is literally a monster.

January 31, 2018

26 Comments

Sorted by top post

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OmegaGmaster

Double negatives

Hmm, it seems Paul forgot about AAVE. Funny considering the examples provided here are written in an AAVE-like manner.

January 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Strandfloh

Thanks for that! I knew about some of them, but not all. I found them quite confusing when I started reading English on the Internet a while ago (English ist not my native language). Now I've gotten used to them and know how to "translate".

What about the use of "I" instead of "me"? I think it is also quite common and puzzled me when I first saw that.

January 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/npLam

the use of "I" instead of "me"... Yes. And connected to that; increasingly hear people say "myself" instead of "I or me" (Things like: Peter and myself ate the owl.... Peter gave the owl to myself.)
For me, the biggest problem (that I'm aware of) is colons and semi-colons.

January 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luscinda

AArghh, the abuse of the reflexive pronoun. Usually by people in call centres but this morning in an email I received. 'It will be sent to yourself... '

No one ever had difficulty with this in years past, it's just a ridiculous affectation.

January 31, 2018

[deactivated user]

    'It will be sent to yourself... '

    That sounds terrible.

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luscinda

    It sounds illiterate. Unless you happen to be Irish, in which case you may have inherited an emphatic use of the reflexive in spoken English from Irish.

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

    npLam. Love your post. 'Fraid I echoed your comment on I, myself etc as I read this after myself had posted. I wouldn't of added it otherwise (spot the grimmest of errors?). Seriously, not long till Livello 9! Ciao, Linda

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaye16

    Brilliant! This should be required reading by all English speakers whether as a native language or not. Have a few lingots.

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/7895123G

    Or people who say "pacific" when they mean "specific".

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qwl8143

    I honestly don't feel that double negatives is enough of a problem to merit a spot on this list. I, at the very least, only use double negatives when trying to make a point (since double negatives can be used in such a way). This is especially common with verbs relating to affinity such as like or appreciate. "I don't not like him, it's just..." is an example of double negatives used correctly. If anything, I think double negatives are most commonly used in rap and hip-hop when compared to spoken English.

    Also an important one, the usage of apostrophes with certain conjunctions like "its" and "it's" is rather misused in written English.

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MasterZsword

    Regarding double negatives, I come from a black family that tends to use that style of speaking on a regular basis. Of course, I learned at a very young age that it's incorrect (and I personally don't use double negatives), but it's one of the only errors I hear that sounds correct, even though I know that it's wrong (at least, focusing on the example you provided). Sort of strange...

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OmegaGmaster

    AAVE has double negatives (which is probably what your family speaks), so it is not incorrect.

    February 1, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrenchCamille

    Some of those I say in my head and I'm like "that doesn't sound right" even though it does. It's just a habit I guess.

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/israelpolasak

    Hey, would you please be able to expand on 7? English is my 2nd language and I adore studying its grammar. I have asked my English teacher previously; however, she was not able to explain it to me. (I go to an American public school; how good could the teachers be... Most of my English teachers have worse grammar than I do. They would say "If I was going to go..." (Which I know is wrong.))

    January 31, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanG6

    I will try.

    "Lie" is an intransitive verb. It does not take a direct object. It acts upon the speaker only.
    I lie down.
    You lie down.
    They lie down.

    "Lay" is a transitive verb. It takes a direct object. It is an action done by the speaker to another object.
    I lay the laundry on the bed.
    You lay the laundry on the bed.
    They lay the laundry on the bed.

    The form of each is as follows:
    Present | Past | Past Participle
    lie | lay | lain
    lay | laid | laid

    I lie down now.
    I lay down yesterday.
    I have lain down early all week.

    I lay the laundry on the bed as we speak.
    I laid the laundry on the bed yesterday.
    I have laid the laundry on the bed every time that I did the laundry.

    January 31, 2018

    [deactivated user]

      Very nice and useful list Dean.

      Even non-English speakers must pay attention to those. Of course I'm guilty on some of them...

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chaered

      On (7): not to confuse with lie, lied, lied.

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

      Dean this is brilliant! I lingot you;-) My pet cringes in my own language are "me and him went out ...", "come to dinner with John and I" and the dreaded apostrophe. I once worked for a Mr Williams who regularly received letters to "Mr William's", and don't get me started on "panini's". They say like it doesn't matter any more, like who cares, like chill! WE do! Regards, L.

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeanG6

      LOL. You're welcome. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PolMicheal

      No native speaker speaks their idiolect incorrectly. These examples aren't "wrong" exactly but only nonstandard. Number 10 is kind of annoying to me though...

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/odi_et_amo

      > No native speaker speaks their idiolect incorrectly.

      Native speakers make mistakes all the time when they speak and it has nothing to do with prescriptivism. Sometimes, the brain strings the words together in a weird way, doesn't conjugate a verb the way it normally would, uses a similar-sounding but different word than intended, or even uses the wrong pronoun. Those aren't peculiarities of any idiolect. They're slip-ups. They don't typically impede communication because context prevents confusion.

      February 2, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DWYato

      Regarding #4. If someone asks you, "Are you broke?" but you only have a few pennies in your pocket, You could actually say, "I don't have NO money," with the emphasis on NO.

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Shauna1302

      Hmm, some very interesting points. #5 is something I never considered; I'm learning about it in Spanish, but never gave it a thought in English. Thanks!

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Leslie451559

      Thank you for this post. There are a few points here I was unaware of as an English speaker. I think it is true that one never really understands one's own language until you learn another. ( Er, is it "ones" or "one's"?. It's those possessive apostrophes on pronouns that get me..! )

      January 31, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Max.Em

      Thanks for the nice compilation. Some of them are really tricky and I'm often thinking about how to do them right... Also as a non-native....

      January 31, 2018
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