26 Mistakes in English You Can Easily Avoid Making

26 Mistakes in English You Can Easily Avoid Making

Learning a new language, especially English, can be a challenging and rewarding experience. However, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, there are some common errors that many people make without even realizing it. In this article, we will discuss 26 mistakes that you should avoid making in order to enhance your English language skills.

One of the most commonly made mistakes is grammatical errors. These can range from simple errors like using the wrong tense or forgetting to add an article, to more complex mistakes like run-on sentences or subject-verb agreement. It’s important to pay attention to these details in order to maintain proper grammar and convey your thoughts accurately.

Capitalization and punctuation are also areas where many people make mistakes. It’s important to check your writing for proper capitalization of nouns and the correct use of punctuation marks such as periods and commas. These small details can make a big difference in how your writing is perceived and understood.

Countable and uncountable nouns can also be a source of confusion. Knowing when to use “some” or “a few” versus “a lot of” or “much” is essential in order to express quantities correctly. Similarly, understanding the difference between the article “a” and the article “the” is crucial in conveying whether something is specific or general.

Using the wrong words is another mistake that is easy to make. Words that sound similar but have different meanings, such as “there” and “their”, or “to”, “too” and “two”, can be easily confused. It’s important to pay attention to these words and use them correctly in order to avoid any confusion.

Making errors in verb tense is also a common mistake. Knowing when to use the past, present, or future tense can be challenging, especially for non-native speakers. Incorrectly using different verb tenses can change the meaning of a sentence and lead to miscommunication.

Finally, we cannot forget about the commonly made mistake of loan words. Loan words are words borrowed from other languages that have become popular in English. However, their usage and meaning in English may differ from their original language. It’s important to be aware of these differences and use loan words correctly in order to sound fluent and avoid any misunderstandings.

Correct Usage of Homophones

1. They’re, Their, and There

They’re is a contraction of “they are” and is used when referring to a group of people. Their shows possession, indicating that something belongs to a group. There points to a location or indicates the existence of something.

2. Your and You’re

Your indicates possession, meaning something belongs to you. You’re is a contraction of “you are” and is used to refer to an action or describe a characteristic.

It’s important to remember that these words have different meanings and should not be used interchangeably.

3. Its and It’s

Its shows possession and is used when something belongs to an object or animal. It’s is a contraction of “it is” and is used to describe or indicate an action.

4. Too and To

Too means “also” or “excessively,” while to is a preposition used to indicate direction, time, or purpose.

Pay attention to the context of the sentence to determine whether “too” or “to” is the correct choice.

5. There, They’re, and Their

There, they’re, and their are commonly confused because they sound the same. Remember that they have different meanings and cannot be used interchangeably. There points to a location, they’re is a contraction of “they are,” and their shows possession.

6. Lose and Loose

Lose means to misplace or fail to win, while loose means not tight or not firmly fastened.

Remembering the difference between these two words is crucial for using them correctly in your writing.

7. It’s and Its

It’s is a contraction of “it is,” while its shows possession. These words are commonly misused, so double-check their usage to ensure accuracy in your writing.

Avoiding these common mistakes will not only improve your writing but also strengthen your overall grasp of English grammar. Remember to proofread your work and consult grammar resources like Grammarly or dictionary websites to check the correct usage of homophones.

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Commonly Confused Words

1. They’re vs. Their vs. There

They’re – a contraction of “they are”

Their – possessive form of “they”

There – refers to a place or location

2. Whole vs. Hole

Whole – complete or entire

Hole – an opening or gap

3. Check vs. Cheque

Check – to examine or verify

Cheque – a written order to pay money

4. Learning vs. Teaching

Learning – the process of acquiring knowledge

Teaching – the process of instructing others

5. Funny vs. Fun

Funny – causing laughter or amusement

Fun – enjoyable or entertaining

6. Many vs. Much

Many – used with countable nouns

Much – used with uncountable nouns

7. They vs. Theirs

They – a pronoun referring to a group of people

Theirs – possessive form of “they”

8. Most vs. Almost

Most – majority or greatest amount

Almost – nearly or not quite

9. Punctuation vs. Punctual

Punctuation – marks used in writing

Punctual – being on time

10. Common vs. Commune

Common – usual or ordinary

Commune – a group of people living together

11. Or vs. Are

Or – a conjunction used to connect alternatives

Are – the plural form of “is”

12. 17 vs. Seventeen

17 – the numeral for the number seventeen

Seventeen – the word for the number seventeen

  • 13. Need vs. Needed
  • 14. From vs. Form
  • 15. Can vs. Can’t
  • 16. Lot vs. Lots
  • 17. Usually vs. Usually
  • 18. Looking vs. Search
  • 19. Mother vs. Father
  • 20. Say vs. Tell
  • 21. Oops vs. Oops
  1. 22. Grammatical vs. Grammarian
  2. 23. One vs. Once
  3. 24. Last vs. Lost
  4. 25. Formal vs. Former
  5. 26. Vocabulary vs. Vocabulary

Remember, English is a constantly evolving language, and even native speakers make mistakes. However, by maintaining a list of common pitfalls and having the ability to check your spelling and grammar, you can improve your written English and avoid making these mistakes.

Eliminating Double Negatives

Here’s an example: “I don’t want none of that.” This sentence is actually saying that the speaker wants some of that, despite the use of the word “don’t” and the negative term “none.”

To avoid double negatives, it’s important to understand how they can occur and what words to avoid using together. Here are 10 examples of double negatives that you should be aware of:

  1. Don’t never
  2. Can’t hardly
  3. Isn’t nobody
  4. Wasn’t nothing
  5. Won’t no one
  6. Hasn’t never
  7. Shouldn’t nobody
  8. Ain’t none
  9. Couldn’t no one
  10. Didn’t do nothing

Using multiple negatives in a sentence can also make it more difficult to understand and follow. It’s best to use clear and direct language to communicate your message effectively.

In addition to eliminating double negatives, there are other common mistakes in English that you might encounter. It’s important to keep these in mind to improve your language skills and avoid making these errors. Here are some other mistakes to watch out for:

  • Misusing hyphens and capitalization
  • Confusing figuratively and literally
  • Overusing commas
  • Using pronouns incorrectly
  • Not marking the end of a sentence with a period
  • Using incorrect subject-verb agreement
  • Confusing their and they’re, its and it’s
  • Not using apostrophes correctly
  • Using run-on sentences
  • Having inconsistencies in verb tenses
  • Using incorrect word order
  • Using incorrect word meanings
  • Not proofreading for errors before submitting
  • Not using proper punctuation

By understanding and avoiding these common mistakes, you can improve your English writing and speaking skills. It’s always helpful to read books, articles, and blog posts to learn from others and see these mistakes in context. Practice makes perfect, so keep working on your language abilities, and you’ll become a fluent English speaker in no time!

Avoiding Redundancy in Writing

1. Use concise vocabulary: Choose words that are specific and precise. Avoid using multiple words to express the same idea. For example, instead of saying “the reason why,” you can simply say “why.”

2. Use active tenses and agreement: Use active voice in your sentences to make them more direct and engaging. Also, ensure that the subject and verb agree in number and tense. For example, instead of saying “he has gone to the store yesterday,” you can say “he went to the store yesterday.”

3. Avoid unnecessary qualifiers: Qualifiers such as “very,” “much,” and “really” can often be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. For example, instead of saying “the book is very interesting,” you can say “the book is interesting.”

4. Keep it clear and simple: Avoid using complicated language and excessive jargon. Use plain language that is easy for all readers to understand. For example, instead of saying “utilize,” you can say “use.”

5. Be mindful of misplacement: Properly place words and phrases in a sentence to avoid confusion. For example, instead of saying “I always have milk to drink,” you can say “I always drink milk.”

By following these tips, you can improve the clarity and effectiveness of your writing while avoiding unnecessary repetition. Remember, less is more when it comes to effective communication!

Forgetting Hyphens

One common mistake is forgetting to use hyphens when combining multiple words to describe a particular purpose or category. For example, instead of writing “purpose posts” or “category properties,” it should be “purpose-posts” and “category-properties” to clarify the intended meaning.

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Another mistake is failing to use hyphens in compound numbers. For instance, instead of saying “nine fewer than twenty-six,” it should be “nine-fewer-than-twenty-six” to clearly convey the intended quantity.

In addition, hyphens are essential in distinguishing between verb phrases and adjective phrases. For example, “following the rules” means you are doing something afterward, while “following-the-rules” means you are adhering to a set of guidelines.

Hyphens are also important in creating adverbial and adjectival phrases. For example, “well-known” means widely recognized or famous, whereas “well known” means possessing a good understanding or knowledge of something.

Furthermore, hyphens can help avoid ambiguity and ensure clarity in sentences. For example, “man-eating shark” is a shark that eats humans, while “man eating shark” refers to a man who is eating a shark.

Hyphens are commonly used in compound adjectives as well. For instance, “high-quality work” means work of excellent standard, while “high quality work” means work that is of high and superior quality.

Another important aspect of using hyphens is with prefixes and suffixes. For example, “non-disclosure agreement” refers to an agreement that prohibits the disclosure of certain information, while “non disclosure agreement” would mean an agreement that does not disclose anything.

Hyphens are also necessary when differentiating between countable and non-countable nouns. For example, “13-year-old boy” means a boy who is 13 years old, while “13 year old boy” could be misunderstood as a boy who is both 13 and a year old.

Many common mistakes in using hyphens can be easily avoided by following some simple rules. Here’s a list of hyphenation tips to help you improve your writing:

  1. Do use hyphens in compound words and phrases.
  2. Don’t forget to hyphenate compound numbers.
  3. Always use hyphens to distinguish between verb and adjective phrases.
  4. Avoid placing hyphens where they are not needed, especially when using prefixes and suffixes.
  5. Double-check hyphens in compound adjectives and adverbs.
  6. Remember to hyphenate for clarity and to avoid ambiguity.
  7. Use hyphens when differentiating between countable and non-countable nouns.
  8. Review and practice hyphenation rules through grammar exercises and examples.
  9. When in doubt, consult style guides or tools like Grammarly for hyphenation assistance.

By paying attention to hyphen placement and following these guidelines, you can easily avoid making hyphenation mistakes that could compromise the clarity and accuracy of your writing. Happy hyphenating!

Hyphenating Compound Adjectives

For example, let’s consider the phrase “farther academic period.” Without the hyphen, it becomes unclear whether “farther” is modifying “academic” or “academic period.” However, when we hyphenate it as “farther-academic period,” the meaning is clear that the phrase describes a period that is more distant and related to academic activities.

Another example is the phrase “much child 2 and 4 Ruth.” Without the hyphen, it’s difficult to interpret the meaning. But when we hyphenate it as “much-child 2-and-4 Ruth,” we can understand that it refers to a child named Ruth who is related to the numbers 2 and 4.

Similarly, hyphens are used in compound adjectives to show the relationship between the words. For example, “commas gone wild” becomes “commas-gone-wild,” emphasizing that the commas have gone out of control. Another example is “little-known fact” becoming “little-known-fact,” indicating that the fact is not widely known.

However, not all compound adjectives need to be hyphenated. There are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Hyphenate compound adjectives when they come before the noun they modify. For example, “fast-paced movie” or “correction-free text.”
  2. Do not hyphenate compound adjectives when they come after the noun. For example, “The movie is fast paced” or “The text is correction free.”
  3. A compound adjective is not hyphenated if the adjectives are synonyms or if the first adjective is an adverb ending in “-ly”. For example, “She is a well-known actress” or “The book is very interesting.”
  4. Hyphenate compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine. For example, “twenty-one cats” or “ninety-nine problems.”
  5. Hyphenate compound adjectives when they are used as modifiers for a countable noun. For example, “a five-year-old child” or “a two-hour meeting.”

Remember, using hyphens correctly can enhance clarity and understanding in your writing. Always double-check if a compound adjective needs a hyphen, as the rules can be complex. By paying attention to these common mistakes, you can improve your English writing skills and avoid grammatical errors.


What are common mistakes in English that people can easily avoid?

The article highlights 26 common mistakes in English that people can easily avoid making. Some of these mistakes include subject-verb agreement errors, using the wrong tense, misusing prepositions, and confusing similar words.

Why do people make mistakes in English?

There are several reasons why people make mistakes in English. Some people may not have had a proper education in English grammar, while others may struggle with certain concepts or rules. Additionally, the English language has many irregularities and exceptions, which can be confusing for learners.

How can people avoid making mistakes in English?

To avoid making mistakes in English, people can focus on improving their grammar and vocabulary skills. They can also practice regularly to reinforce their understanding of the language. It can also be helpful to seek feedback from native English speakers or enroll in language courses to further develop their skills.

What are some common subject-verb agreement errors in English?

Some common subject-verb agreement errors in English include using a singular verb with a plural subject or vice versa, not correctly identifying the subject in a sentence, and not treating collective nouns as singular entities. These mistakes can easily be avoided by paying attention to subject-verb agreement rules.

Why is it important to avoid mistakes in English?

It is important to avoid mistakes in English because they can affect communication and understanding. When people make mistakes, it can lead to confusion or misunderstandings. Additionally, having good English language skills is often important in academics, professional settings, and everyday interactions.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.