Common English Mistakes (Grammar – ESL/EFL)

34 Common English Mistakes Made by ESL/EFL Students

Here is a list of common English mistakes my intermediate, upper-intermediate, and advanced ESL students make. Generally, these are grammar mistakes.

> Students, take a look at the sentences (each has a common English mistake) and try to correct the errors.

> Teachers, download the common English mistakes file here for use in class: Common-English-Mistakes-ESL.doc

I have added explanations to most of the mistakes. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Good luck!



1. There is very cold in the summer.

Answer

It‘s very cold there in the summer.

Explanation: In the above sentence, ‘there’ is an adverb (a place). An adverb cannot be the subject of a sentence. 

2. According to me, that’s true.

Answer

[In my opinion, / I think] that’s true.

3. If I will be late, I’ll call you.

Answer

If I am late, I’ll call you.

Explanation: This is the first conditional (Future Real).

4. I am used to wake up early on weekdays.

Answer

I am used to waking up early on weekdays.

Explanation: the phrasal verb be used to is followed by a gerund (verb in ~ing form). 

5. She sat in the end of the table.

Answer

She sat at the end of the table.

6. I stopped to smoke cigarettes because it was unhealthy.

Answer

I stopped smoking cigarettes because it was unhealthy.

Explanation: stop + gerund describes the activity you no longer do. stop + infinitive describes the reason why you stopped.

7. It is very good weather.

Answer

The weather is very good.

Explanation: It = the weather. 

8. I need to concentrate myself on my homework.

Answer

I need to concentrate on my homework.

Explanation: You cannot use a reflexive pronoun after concentrate.

9. Did you ever read the book “Moby Dick?”

Answer

Have you ever read the book “Moby Dick?”

Explanation: When talking about a non-specific time in the past, use the present perfect tense (have + past participle). 

10. Brian is so stupid man.

Answer

Brian is such a stupid man.

Explanation: so changes to such when it is describing a noun. See lesson plan here.

11. In Spain are many nice beaches.

Answer

There are many nice beaches in Spain. / Spain has many nice beaches.

Explanation: The above sentence has needs a subject.

12. I told that I will come back later.

Answer

I said that I would come back later.

Explanation: The object of the verb tell is a person. The object of the verb say are the words/message you say.

13. In my city, bars are closing at 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Answer

In my city, bars close at 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Explanation: Use the present simple here to describe a regular action.

14. Let’s have a dinner together sometime.

Answer

Let’s have dinner together sometime.

15. Do you know where is the nearest police station?

Answer

Do you know where the nearest police station is?

16. I often do mistakes when I speak English.

Answer

I often make mistakes when I speak English.

Explanationmake is an act of creation. There was no mistake until you created it (made it).

17. I can’t find nothing in my neighborhood.

Answer

I can’t find anything in my neighborhood.

18. I’ve seen that movie last Thursday.

Answer

I saw that movie last Thursday.

Explanation: last Thursday is a definite time in the past. Therefore, you should use the past simple tense.

19. How does your new painting look like?

Answer

What does your new painting look like? / How does your new painting look?

20. I look forward to see you next month.

Answer

I look forward to seeing you next month.

Explanation: The phrasal verb look forward to is followed by a gerund (verb in ~ing form).

21. Can I have a question?

Answer

Can I ask a question?

Explanation: Why do you want a question? 

22. The news on TV are always sad.

Answer

The news on TV is always sad.

23. What means this word?

Answer

What does this word mean?

24. The capital of the United Kingdom is the London.

Answer

The capital of the United Kingdom is London.

Explanation: Countries that are groups of states (republics, unions, kingdoms, emirates, or states) have the definite article the before them. Secondly, never use the before a city name.

25. Doctor is a hard job.

Answer

Being a doctor is hard. / Being a doctor is a hard job.

Explanation: A doctor is a person, not a job. A job is something you do (a verb, an action). What is hard? Not the doctor (the person) — it’s the action (= being a doctor). 

26. Surprising is that no one was hurt.

Answer

It’s surprising that no one was hurt. / The surprising thing is that no one was hurt.

Explanation: an adjective cannot be the subject of a sentence.

27. I suggested to buy a new car.

Answer

I suggested buying a new car.

Explanation: We use a gerund (verb in ~ing form) after the verb suggest

28. My teacher is a 34-years old woman.

Answer

My teacher is a 34-year old woman.

Explanation: ’34-year old’ is an adjective in this sentence which describes woman. We don’t pluralize (add ‘s’ to) adjectives. 

29. If I would be taller, I’d play basketball.

Answer

If I were taller, I’d play basketball.

Explanation: This is the second conditional (a present unreal situation).

30. That’s not that bad idea.

Answer

That’s not that bad of an idea.

Explanation: ideas are countable, so you need an article (an). ‘Of’ becomes a preposition of the noun idea. [/expland]

31. One of my roommate is from Brazil.

AnswerOne of my roommates is from Brazil.

32. It depends on countries.

Answer

It depends on the country.

Explanation: Always use the definite article (the) and then (usually) a singular noun after depends on

33. Even I was tired, I went to the party.

Answer

Even though I was tired, I went to the party.

34. I explained her the problem twice.

Answer

I explained the problem twice to her.

Explanation: The object of the verb explain is what you explain, not whom you explain the problem to.

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If you’d like to try some more, you can visit these related pages:

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17 comments on “Common English Mistakes (Grammar – ESL/EFL)

  1. aafia khizar (Posted on 11-16-2012 at 14:42) Reply

    I think is a comprehensive list of common mistakes made by ESL learners. good job

  2. Angelica A. (Posted on 10-17-2013 at 19:49) Reply

    I liked this kind of excercises because I have a lot problems with the connections.
    I always made a mistakes.
    I am not consisten in talking.

  3. Pingback: English competition – class 8 | SIRIKT 2010

  4. nehru college (Posted on 2-11-2014 at 04:56) Reply

    nice

  5. Rohana Sumanasekara (Posted on 2-18-2014 at 03:12) Reply

    A very good exercise based on important aspects of Grammar. Thanks a lot.

  6. Aylin (Posted on 4-23-2014 at 07:24) Reply

    The exercise is really usefull,  So in a short time,  I noticed the wrongs I made by speaking or writting.

    To sum up,  Thank you a lot from Turkey….. :) <3   ^.^

  7. N.L.srinivas (Posted on 9-29-2014 at 02:00) Reply

    very useful. students can easily learn their mistakes.better give brief explanation also which will be useful to students why they are wrong

  8. Freddy (Posted on 10-3-2014 at 22:12) Reply

    Is a better tool to understand English. Thank you!

  9. Rodeeboy Madrid (Posted on 11-11-2014 at 14:01) Reply

    The topics are all good.

  10. Anonymous (Posted on 1-25-2015 at 23:28) Reply

    very useful

  11. Alexandra (Posted on 3-4-2015 at 16:28) Reply

    Thanks a lot. This exercise is fun to fill out and it is very useful.

  12. khaled taha (Posted on 9-7-2015 at 14:59) Reply

    I Thank YOU for your effort

  13. Saba jannat (Posted on 10-5-2015 at 13:57) Reply

    Helpfull…wish it had more exercises

  14. shokria (Posted on 12-1-2015 at 18:51) Reply

    this is very good and useful page.
    thanks inded

  15. mamun (Posted on 12-19-2015 at 23:15) Reply

    nice!!!

  16. Anonymous (Posted on 5-14-2016 at 18:58) Reply

    It was helpful,thanks i learned a lot.

  17. neeta (Posted on 6-12-2016 at 09:22) Reply

    this worksheet is very useful for learning and very convenient to understand the root of problems.thanks.

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