A human is prone to errors. After all, is there anyone at all who doesn’t err? While mistakes are common and allowed to an extent, correcting them is also necessary. People who like to better themselves and reach closer to the summit of perfection look for ways to improve in areas where they lack. The English language is no exception. There are several common English mistakes that we all commit, and sometimes, we do not have anyone to correct us.
In this lesson, we shall take a look at some such common English mistakes that we end up making, and learn how to avoid them with the help of examples. This article is an attempt to help those who are seeking for a way to improve their language. After all, isn’t it better that we use this isolation period to correct ourselves rather than giving others the opportunity to correct us?
12 Common English Mistakes
1. Mixing up Then and Than
They sound so similar, and their spelling difference hangs by the thread of one single letter- e and a. The confusion is so-called for at times. But then, since we’re trying to not make errors, it’s best that we avoid this most common of English mistakes. Then is used when we wish to speak of afterward. For example, First, you reach there, then give me a call. It is an adverb, and can only speak of time.
Than on the other hand is a conjunction used for comparisons. This dress is way prettier than the one you bought yesterday.
Now you know the difference!
2. Who or That?
Doesn’t it often happen that we are writing something, and get stuck between the use of who or that? If you use a free grammar software, it will correct the mistake for you, but what is the difference really? Let us understand when to use which.
The simplest explanation of this would be to use “who” whenever you are making reference to a person. Camilla is the one who handles the company’s accounts. We cannot use that here, since Camilla is a person.
On the opposite, you use that when you wish to describe an object. For example, Here is the pen that my father gifted to me. Try using who in place of that in this sentence, and you’ll notice the difference.
3. Use of Dangling Modifiers
Whenever a description does not match the noun, we call that modifier dangling. It is one of the most common English mistakes that many of us commit. One cannot understand this without the help of an example; let’s use one. After declining for months, Jean tried a new tactic to increase ROI.
The sentence is confusing because it does clarify what is it that was being declined. A better way to write the sentence is Jean tried a new tactic to increase ROI after it had been declining for months. And now, we do not have a dangling modifier in the sentence.
4. Passive Sentences
Not that using passive sentences is a mistake. Yet, when using English regularly, most people avoid the use of a passive voice. An active voice makes the sentence less complicated and more understandable. Here’s how a passive sentence looks- The food was being cooked by her mother. The phrase “was being cooked” is a passive phrase. When we convert this to the active voice, this is how it looks. Her mother was cooking the food.
When you compare the two sentences, you will notice that the active sentence is direct, clear, and crisp.
5. Assure, Insure & Ensure
The words sound so similar in pronunciation but are so different in spellings. Similarly, their meanings are far apart as well. Yet, using one in place of the other is yet another of our common English mistakes. Let’s take a look at each individually.
Assure- When you give someone your word for something, it is an assurance. For example, I assure you that we shall complete the construction of your house by the said date.
Insure- Whenever you secure something, you are insuring it. The insurance that we buy for our security is an example of this. This car is insured; you will not face any legal problems.
Ensure- Lastly, when you make sure that something happens, it means to ensure. For example, Please ensure that you drop the child inside the premise, not outside the gate. You can see how the speaker is asking for certainty in this sentence.
Now that you know, you can avoid making this error.
Take a quick revision of this lesson, before you enter part 2 of our findings of the most common English mistakes that we commit. In the next lesson, we will take a look at 7 more of such errors with examples. We did not want to bombard lots of information in just one lesson. After all, we need time for this information to sink, work on, and then move on to the next.
Share this article with your fellow learners, and help them avoid these mistakes too.