077 30 common mistakes in English part 1

This week on the Art of Business English I am going to share a very valuable lesson with you. We will start a two part series looking at some of the most common mistakes that people make in English, 30 of them in fact. This week in episode 77, I will be covering the first 15. 

The best thing about this episode is that someone will actually be explaining to your the mistakes you typically make. What usually happens with language learners is that they make common mistakes and they are not even aware that they are making them. In these cases you need someone to specifically point out the mistake to you. 

I have decided to take it one step further, I point out the mistake and then give you the explanation behind why you typically make this mistake and in doing so give you the tools to help you actively fix it. 

Let's take a look at the first 15 common mistakes in English. 

Depends on


Common mistake:

  • Depends of

Why? Because in Spanish it is "depende de". The fact that the preposition "de" comes after "depende" in Spanish often confuses people and tricks them into using "of" instead of "on". 

Near/Close to


Common mistake:

  • Near to

Why? People get confused with close to, which means the same thing as near. They then mix near and close to, and form near to. This is not correct.

Thinking of/about


Common mistake:

  • Thinking in

Why? Because in Spanish we say "pensando en", as a result Spanish speakers assume that because the preposition in Spanish is "en", then in English it must be the same. The verb think can only be followed by the prepositions "of" and "about". 

Suggest/recommend


Common mistake:

  • Suggest us go/Suggest to go

Why? Because suggest/recommend only have two structures. You can use, suggest + s + v + o, or, suggest + verb –ing. These are the only two ways to structure these verbs. They are commonly confused because in Spanish you don't use a gerund form after recommend. 

  • I suggest you try the fish, it is a great dish.
  • I suggest trying the fish, it is a great dish.

Make


Common mistake:

  • Active voice: They made me to give a presentation

Why? Because make someone do something is obligar and it has a different structure in active and passive. I am not talking here about the verb "hacer" I am talking about when you force or compel someone to do something. Look at the following examples, you can see that in the active form we don't use "to", yet when we say the same thing in the passive form we reintroduce the "to": 

  • Active: They made me give a talk (without “to”)
  • Passive: I was made to give a talk (with “to”)

Watch the lesson below

Throw


Common mistake:

  • Throw to my face/Threw the ball him

Why? Throw must be followed by a dependent preposition depending on who is receiving the object. Most commonly we use the preposition "at" when we use the verb throw. Meaning we throw things "at" people or other objects. Take a look at the following examples:

  • He threw the ball at me.
  • Throw the ball to me.

Usually


Common mistake:

  • What do you do on Monday afternoons? I used to go to the gym.

Why? "Used to" means “solía” and this is often confused with "usually" meaning “suele”. When we are talking about past actions that we did repeatedly we use "used to". When we are talking about action that we do frequently in the present we use "usually". 

Everyday/all day


Common mistake:

  • This summer I went to the beach all the days.

Why? Todos los días (in plural) means everyday, but todo el día (in singular) means all day.

  • I swam at the beach everyday this summer.
  • I spent all day at the beach today.

Child/Children


Common mistake:

  • My childrens are two and five

Why? Child is singular and children is plural. This is an irregular noun. Make sure you avoid pluralising both child and children. 

Father/parents


Common mistake:

  • My fathers are retired

Why? In Spanish “padres” is the plural form and it is masculine. In English fathers, means two male dads. So we need to say parents (unless you have two fathers).

Think/Thing


Common mistake:

  • Often confused
Why? People often confuse them in their writing because they have very similar pronunciation. Obviously, they mean two completely different things. As I always say, please check your work before sending it. 

Collocation with Do


Common mistake:

  • Do a mistake/party/photo/friends

Why? Because in Spanish many of these verbs collocate with the verb “hacer” and so people easily confuse them. The correct collocations are:

  • Make a mistake
  • Hold a party
  • Take a photo
  • Make friends

To agree


Common mistake:

  • I am agree with you.

Why? In Spanish we say “Estoy de acuerdo” so people naturally form the verb “to be” in front of "agree". In English we only say “I agree”. Try and treat it like any other verb and imagine it is "yo acuerdo", "te acuerdas" etc...

On the one hand


Common mistake:

  • In the one hand

Why? People often confuse the preposition "on" with "in", it is only on the one hand.

Despite/In spite of


Common mistake:

  • Despite of

Why? "Despite" and "in spite of" mean the same thing, so people often mix despite with the preposition "of". Despite works alone with no preposition. So, "despite" is one word that means "a pesar de" and "in spite of" are three words, which also mean "a pesar de". 

OK, so there are the first 15 most common mistakes in English in the first part of my 2-part series on 30 common mistakes in English. 

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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