Note: This page is for students of English. Teachers, you can download this worksheet here: common-english-mistakes-v3.docx. Note that it does not contain the explanations. Explanations are available below, however.
This exercise is for intermediate-level students. Each of the below 23 sentences has 1 mistake (1x) or two (2x). Rewrite the sentence without the mistake, and then click on ‘Answer‘ to check your answer. Explanations have been added to the answers for your understanding.
1. What means gibberish?
What does gibberish mean?
* ‘Mean’ is a verb. You need the auxiliary verb ‘do’ when making a WH-question about the object of a verb. Review WH-questions here.
2. I said him he had done a mistake. (2x)
I told him (that) he had made a mistake.
Firstly, the object of the verb ‘tell’ is a person, and the object of the verb ‘say’ is the words that you say. For example. ‘I told him to come’ or ‘I said ‘hello‘ to him. Secondly, you make a mistake (it’s an act of creation — we use the verb make when we create something new); you don’t do a mistake.
3. He travelled with car and arrived to Ottawa yesterday. (2x)
He travelled by car and arrived at/in Ottawa.
These are preposition mistakes.
4. She has so boring job.
She has such a boring job.
We use ‘so + adjective’. However, if the phrase ends in a noun, you should use ‘such’ + an article if required. For a detailed explanation, visit here.
5. I have been in Toronto since 2 months.
I have been in Toronto for two months.
We use for to describe the number of days/weeks/months/years something has happened. We use since to describe when something started. So, if it’s March, you can say “I have been in Toronto since January” or “I have been in Toronto for two months”.
6. I heard an interesting news.
I heard interesting news / I heard some interesting news.
News is an uncountable noun. You can’t use the article ‘a’ before it. We often use say ‘some news’ (but you don’t actually need the word some).
7. I don’t know where is my husband?
I don’t know where my husband is.
The above sentence is a statement, not a question. In a regular statement, the order is Subject (husband)+ Verb (is). However, when you make a WH-question with the BE verb, the order is BE verb + Subject (Where is my husband?). The above sentence is not a WH-question, it is a statement (called a noun clause), so the subject should be before the verb. For help with noun clauses, see our lesson.
8. Could you tell me why did I fail?
Could you tell me why I failed?
This is another noun clause (also called an embedded question). The phrase why I failed? is the object of the verb tell. When a question is the object of a verb, it is not written in question word order (e.g. WH-Question + Auxiliary + Subject + Main Verb), it is written in statement word order (WH-Question + Subject + Verb). You do not need the helping verb ‘did’ here because you are not making a question.
9. I was given lots of advices and information about buying new furnitures. (2x)
I was given lots of advice and information about buying new furniture.
Advice and furniture are uncountable nouns.
10. There are too many great restaurants in my city. It’s great!
There are so many great restaurants in my city. It’s great!
The word too is used to express something negative, e.g. It’s too hot. Therefore, it’s strange to say There are too many great restaurants, because great restaurants are usually a good thing. If you are making a positive statement, use the word so instead of too. (For more, read our lesson here.)
11. Are you still interesting to do a trip to Las Vegas? (2x)
Are you still interested in doing a trip to Las Vegas?
Firstly, interesting describes a thing. Interested describes a person’s feelings. You are interested because the book is interesting. For more about participial adjectives, see here.
Secondly, the preposition for the adjective interested is in, and a preposition is followed by a gerund (a verb in the ~ing form)
12. In Canada people are used to live in a cold climate.
In Canada people are used to living in a cold climate.
Again, a preposition (to) is followed by a gerund (living).
13. I’m looking forward to see you soon.
I am looking forward to seeing you soon.
Again, a preposition (to) is followed by a gerund (seeing)
14. I have not an iPhone.
I don’t have an iPhone.
The verb have, as a main verb, in the negative is don’t/doesn’t have. It is old fashioned to say ‘I have not an iPhone.’ Even in England, people generally do not use this form anymore.
15. This is the worse day of my life.
This is the worst day of my life.
Use the superlative form – bad-worse-worst.
16. I told my friend to come to here.
I told my friend to come here.
Here is an adverb (like up, down, there, away). You don’t need a preposition (‘to’) before an adverb. Read our explanation here.
17. A: How does it look like? (B: It’s big and green.)
What does it look like?
There are two possible questions here that basically have the same meaning:
- How does it look?
- What does it look like?
Don’t mix them up.
18. My health depends of what I eat.
My health depends on what I eat.
The preposition that follows depends is on.
19. Let’s go by walk. It’s close.
Let’s go on foot. It’s close.
We don’t say by walk. Instead, we use the expression on foot.
20. He looks he is married and he seems polite.
He looks like he is married and he seems polite.
Verbs like look/seem/feel/sound are called linking verbs. These verbs are often used in a way that is different from action verbs. Compare:
- John is looking at the sky. (Action verb — John is looking)
- John looks tired. (Linking verb. The meaning is John= tired. The subject, John, is not ‘looking’ anywhere. He is tired.)
For linking verbs, there are three typical structures:
- Verb + adjective. (You look beautiful.)
- Verb + LIKE + Noun. (You look like a model.)
- Verb + LIKE + Phrase. (You look like you didn’t sleep yesterday.)
Don’t mix them up.
21. I have two brothers. One is named John and another is named Leo.
I have two brothers. One is named John and the other is named Leo.
We know that you have two brothers. If one is named John, then it must be THE other whom is named Leo. We must use the definite article here because the listener knows who the other one is (the brother is specific). Review another/other/the other here.
22. A: How’s going? B: I’m fine. (1.5x)
A: How’s it going? B: Great/Good/Well.
Firstly, the expression is How’s it going? (with the subject “it”). Secondly, the question means How is your life going? The answer usually does not begin with “I’m…”, It should be just an adjective, describing your life recently, e.g. Great! / Good. / Not bad!
23. I am not agree with you.
I do not agree with you.
Agree is a verb. To make a negative sentence, just add do + not (or don’t).
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How many answers did you get correct? If you have any questions about these common English mistakes, leave them in the comments section below.
If you’d like to try some more, you can visit these related pages:
- 34 Common English Mistakes (Version 1)
- Find the Common English Mistakes (Version 2)
- 20 Common Mistakes made by Czechs
– Matthew Barton / Creator: www.englishcurrent.com (Copyright)