078 30 common mistakes in English part 2

Welcome to another episode of the Art of Business English. This week I have completed the second part of my two part series called 30 common mistakes in English. 

In episode 78 of the Art of Business English I look at the next 15 common mistakes made by English language learners. If you haven’t looked at part 1 of this series, then go back and take a look at episode 77 where I cover the first 15 common mistakes.

This valuable episode will give you some insight into where you are making typical errors, it will also arm you with the tools you need to try and stop making these mistakes. In most cases, just being made aware of them will help you to improve and break the habit of making common mistakes in English.

Arrive in/at


Common mistake:

  • Arrive to

Why? Because in Spanish it is “llegar a” so people assume it is with “to”

Which/Who


Common mistake:

  • Confusing “which” and “who” in conversation

Why? “Which” is only for things, and “who” is for people.

Interrogative pronouns and auxiliary verbs


Common mistake:

Forgetting to add the auxiliary verb in questions

  • What you do last weekend?
  • Why you arrive so late?

Why? Good question! After more than 10 years of teaching I can’t understand why it is so difficult to use do/does/did in questions. You learn it in basic English.

Expressing purpose with “to”


Common mistake:

  • I am listening to this podcast for to improve my English
  • I am listening to this podcast for improving my English

Why? Because in Spanish you express purpose using “para”. You CANNOT use for to express purpose with an infinitive verb. We only use “for” + Ving to talk about the use of an object.

  • This remote is for turning on the TV.

Using “to” after must or can


Common mistake:

  • I can to come to your party

Why? Must and can are VERY special verbs called modal verbs. They are not expressed in infinitive with “to”, nor are they followed by an infinitive verb with “to”. Can and must are always followed by bare infinitives and are only used in the present simple tense

Watch the lesson below

Not using –ing after specific verbs


Common mistake:

  • I avoided to walk near the dangerous machine.
  • I enjoy to talk to her.

Why? Because some verbs in English require an ING form in the next verb. These must be learnt.

  • I avoided walking near the dangerous machine
  • I enjoy talking to her

Miss use of the Saxon genitive


Common mistake:

  • It is the birthday of my brother.

Why? In Spanish we say “Es el cumpleaños de mi hermano”. Most students do a literal translation forgetting the rule. We us ‘s for possessives when talking about, people, animals, institutions/companies and time expressions.

  • Next week’s meeting is important.
  • It’s my brother’s birthday.

Forgetting subjects


Common mistake:

  • Is a beautiful day today.

Why? Because all sentences need a subject in English. In Spanish the verb conjugation indicates the subject, but in English the verb only changes slightly in the third person singular form.

  • It is a beautiful day today.

Confusing possessive pronouns


Common mistake:

  • How is John’s dad? Your father is good.

Why? Many Spanish speakers use your when in fact they mean his or her. I don’t understand why this happens. It is a mystery to me.

  • How is John’s dad? His father is good.

Pronunciation of the simple past


Common mistake:

  • I livED in Barcelona for 3 years.

Why? In Spanish you generally pronounce all of the letters in a word. Verbs in the simple past have the ED pronounced as a “T” sound, with the exception of verbs that end in a “T” sound, such as want or decide.

Actually/Currently


Common mistake:

  • Often confused

Why? Actualmente is a false friend in English. Actually means “de hecho” o “de verdad”. Students often want to say currently or at the moment.

Forgetting “s” in third person singular


Common mistake:

  • She like to eat cake. Or He live in Barcelona.

Why? Well, this is a mystery, in Spanish you need to collocate every single subject, in English only “he”, “she” and “it”. Why speakers forget this little detail is very hard to understand.

  • She likes to eat cake.
  • He lives in Barcelona

Confusing to stay with to be


Common mistake:

  • Where are you? I stay at the bank.

Why? For some reason Spanish speakers confuse the verb estar with the English verb stay. I assume due to the pronunciation. Estar = to be and Quedar = to stay.

Using double negatives


Common mistake:

  • I didn’t see nobody

Why? In Spanish you can negate twice in a sentence, but in English it is forbidden. We use anything, anybody, anywhere etc. after a negative

  • I didn’t see anybody

For/during


Common mistake:

  • I have lived here during two years

Why? In Spanish, “during” AND “for” are “durante”. In English we only use “during” when we say when something happens. “During my holidays I read a lot”.

  • We use “for” with a time expression. “I was on holiday for two weeks.”

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Let me know what you think below in the comments section. Now that you understand 30 of the most common mistakes made in English you can try and work on improving your accuracy with English and avoid making these mistakes.

If you want to improve your collocations and range of expressions in English then why don't you take a look at the 500 business collocations for everyday use. 

Well, let me know what you think and please share this episode with you friends, family and colleagues. Please feel free to leave me a comment below with any questions. 

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About the Author Andrew

Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

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