Top 5- Most Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

There are several mistakes that I hear all the time from English learners.  Some of these are  easy corrections to make that maybe you just weren’t aware of and the others may take more time to work on and may give trouble to even advanced English speakers.  Check this list to make sure you don’t make these mistakes!

Funny sign: Tripping Hazard

1.    Misuse of fun/funny- This is a common mistake that many English learners make.  Fun is something that is entertaining or enjoyable.  Going to the amusement park is ‘fun’.  Funny is something or someone that makes you laugh.    A comedian is ‘funny’.

2.    Articles- This is tough even for many intermediate-advanced speakers.  Remembering to use ‘a’ and ‘the’ and how to distinguish between which one to use can be very tricky for many English learners.  The trick is that ‘the’ is called a definite article, used to describe a specific thing. ‘A’ is called an indefinite article and describes something general and not specific.

“I’m going to the library.” – This probably refers to a specific library that the person you are speaking with will understand.  Maybe there is only one library or it is the library that you often visit.

“I’m going to a party tonight.” – When you say this, it most likely means that the person you’re speaking with is not familiar with the party and you are not specifying which party you will attend.

3.    Misuse of bored/boring- This is similar to the fun/funny mistake.  This leads to a lot of funny statements from people mixing up the two words to incorrectly proclaim, “I am boring!”  Bored describes the feeling of the state that you are in.  “This television show is not interesting.  I am bored.”  Boring describes a person or thing that makes you feel bored.  “This television show is not funny, it is very boring!”   When you say, “I am boring”, you are saying that you are not interesting!

4.    Gender Specific Pronouns- Most common mistakes are due to the fact that the language point doesn’t exist in the speaker’s native tongue.  For example, in Chinese, no gender is specified in the spoken language, so many Chinese speakers mix up “He/She/Him/Her” when speaking.  This is just one of those mistakes that has to be practiced, and it usually doesn’t interfere with communication; it just makes for funny and/or embarrassing situations!

5.    Singular/Plural nouns- Another common error, students often forget to put the ‘s’ on the end of words to make them plural. To create further problems for English speakers, there are other rules involving singular/plural nouns, such as whether an object is countable/uncountable, that leads to further confusion.  A general rule is that if you can’t count the object (water, information, knowledge, etc), you don’t add the ‘s’.  “There is a lot of water in that glass!”

2 thoughts on “Top 5- Most Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

  1. salviah

    articles, singular/plural nouns, two of the common mistakes that i’ve met regularly…since bahasa indonesia doesn’t have that kinds of language focus…thnx 4 the info.

    1. Ben Apple

      Yes, when your native language doesn’t contain those grammar points, it becomes tougher to translate into your target language.


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