Top Common English Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Making a tonne of errors is the quickest way to improve as an English speaker. Errors are a language student’s best friend as long as they recognize where they went wrong and try something different the next time! But if you don’t know what your mistakes are, you can’t learn from them.

Because of this, we’ve compiled 9 of the most typical speaking mistakes that English learners make, as identified by a variety of experts, including university professors, English tutors, and well-known English speakers on YouTube.

No one is counting on you to speak perfect English, but if you take in the knowledge in this article, you’ll sound more natural at some of the trickiest stumbling points. In this manner, any errors you do make will be lovely and unique!

Common English Grammatical Errors (And how to avoid them)

The majority of English errors are made by non-native speakers when they attempt to translate words directly from their native tongue. Which errors you are prone to make depend typically on your first language and how it differs from English in terms of grammar and construction. However, the following are some extremely typical roadblocks:

Combining the Words “lend” and “borrow”

An encyclopedia of frequent English grammatical errors has been compiled by Professor Paul Brians of Washington State University. Just one of many examples he gives? Some people mistakenly use the word “borrow” when they mean “loan” or “lend.”

A non-native speaker might use the following example:

Can you lend me your rubber?

when they actually mean to say:

Can you lend me a pencil?

“To borrow” means to take something from someone with the intention of returning it in standard English. The terms “to lend” and “to loan” refer to giving something temporarily to another person.

Suggested Read- 9 English Grammar Rules to Master

How to Avoid Making This Error

What direction is this object moving in, you ask?

lend [me] and borrow from me

You’re lending something if it moves away from you.

When something comes closer to you, you’re borrowing it.

The prepositions surrounding the word also reveal which word it is. Although we borrow from someone, we lend something to someone.

Confusion Between “me either” and “me too”

Moujahid B., a Preply tutor, observed that many of his students struggle to distinguish between “me too” and “me either.”

“‘Me too’ and “Me either’ are different in that one is positive and the other is negative. The affirmative response is “me too,” so if you say, “I like traveling,” I would respond, “Me too,” meaning “I like traveling too.”

However, if you say, “I don’t like extreme sports,” I would reply, “Me either,” which is another way of saying, “I don’t like extreme sports either.” No, not at all.

How to Avoid Making This Error

One of the first things you are taught in English speaking courses is how to say “me too” in agreement with a positive statement. Saying “me either” is a better alternative if you want to concur with a negative statement. Learn the phrases that make people think negatively in order to remember this, such as:

I don’t enjoy…

I hate…

I can’t take it.

Wishing Someone “Congratulations” on Their Birthday

According to LinguaMarina, an ESL expert, it’s very typical for English language learners to make awkward birthday comments about their friends.

“When someone has a birthday, you can wish them a happy one and send them well wishes, but in English, it’s hard to say ‘congratulations.’ ‘Congratulations’ is a word that is used to express praise for success in English.

On the other hand, having a birthday is just something that occurs to you. It’s not really a success. This error typically occurs when translating from your native tongue into English.

How to Avoid Making This Error

Say “Happy birthday” or “I hope you have a great day” rather than “Congratulations” to the person celebrating. When your English-speaking friends accomplish something more active, save your “congratulations” for them.

For instance, if someone is getting married, receiving a promotion at work, or purchasing a new home, you should wish them luck because this is a brand-new development in their lives!

More generally, LinguaMarina emphasizes that instead of directly translating words from your native tongue, you should try to start “thinking in English” in order to avoid making errors like this.

Confusion between “since” and “for” According to Vanessa, the teacher behind the YouTube channel English with Vanessa, even fluent English speakers occasionally mix up “since” and “for.”

“I frequently hear people claim that they have lived in this location for three years. It’s unfortunate because “I have been living here” is a lovely and sophisticated way to begin a sentence. However, there is a typo in the last clause of this sentence! I have lived here for three years, you should say.

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How to Avoid Making This Error

There isn’t a magic trick with this one, unfortunately! Only the two use cases of since and for the need to be learned.

For = the period of time that something has been occurring.

Since = the time when something started happening, which is still happening today. I have been a doctor for five years.

I started working as a doctor in 2016.

Try reading the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson’s song Since You’ve Been Gone while listening to it if you’re having trouble remembering the distinction. You’ll see that the word “since” here refers to something that began in the past—Kelly’s breakup with her bad boyfriend—but is still occurring today. It’s a fairly irritating song. however, hey, if it works!

Top Common English Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Image by Storyset on Freepik

Referring to Medicine as “eat” as opposed to “take”

When discussing drugs and medicine, many non-native English speakers confuse their verb tenses, claims Australian English expert Max of Learn English with Max. They could state:

I take some painkillers because I have a headache.

However, the appropriate verb is:

I took some narcotics for my headache.

She clarifies:

“We use the verb ‘take’ for drugs, including illegal drugs, as well as medication, pills, and tablets. The word “take” is not used in English to describe drinking or eating. We merely use it for drugs and medication.

How to Avoid Making This Error

Practice! Say the correct phrase aloud to yourself in English the next time you’re feeling under the weather: “I’m going to take some medicine.”

As an alternative, you might try watching a medical-themed English-language TV program like Scrubs or Grey’s Anatomy. In this way, you’ll constantly hear the appropriate verb when discussing medicine!

Suggested Read- There are Some Interesting Exceptions in English Grammar: Let’s Take a Look

Conflating “lay” and “lie”

Leonah, a Preply tutor, claims that many English learners are perplexed by the distinction between “lay” and “lie.”

I’m not going to lie: for more than 700 years, both native and non-native English speakers have been troubled by the two little three-letter words “lay and lie” and other similar phrases.

So you’re not alone if you’re perplexed by them! I assert that studying the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs is the best way to comprehend the differences between lie and lay.

How to Avoid Making This Error

There is no avoiding how muddled these two words are! If you’re still having trouble, check out Preply’s Ask a Tutor forum’s explanation of the distinction between lying and lying in bed. According to Leonah, a Preply tutor:

“Lay” is a transitive verb that means to put something down flat and requires an object to be acted upon. As in:

He put his sword down.

“Lie” simply means to be flat on a surface. Since “lie” is an intransitive verb, it can be used without an object. “Lie” refers to something that is already in position or moving into it on its own.

I chose to recline.

You can use this mnemonic once you are familiar with these definitions and want them to stay in your memory for a long time.

Using “nobody” to refer to “anybody”

The incorrect phrase “I didn’t meet nobody” is frequently used by non-native English speakers, according to Hridhaan, one of the presenters for Learn English with Let’s Talk. He clarifies:

“People often say, ‘I didn’t meet anybody,’ but that is incorrect in this context. ‘I didn’t meet anyone’ is the correct translation. Understand why? Because “nobody” isn’t used in a negative sentence that already contains the word “not.” You shouldn’t add another negative to a sentence if it already contains one. ‘I didn’t meet anyone,’ you would reply.

How to Avoid Making This Error

Learn about “double negatives” in English and the reasons why they are used.

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