Note: This page is for students. Teachers, you can download this exercise as a worksheet here: Fix the Mistakes (Speaking Activity)
This exercise is for intermediate-level students. Each of the below 20 sentences has a mistake. Rewrite the sentence without the mistake, and then click on ‘Answer‘ to check your answer. Explanations have been added to the answers that are not obvious.
1. It is raining when I got home last night.
It was raining when I got home last night.
* Use past progressive for a longer action that was interrupted by a shorter action in the past.
2. My sister is annoying today, but usually she is nice.
My sister is being annoying today, but usually she is nice.
* Use a progressive tense (present progressive is used here) for actions and (some) adjectives that are temporary. Your sister is not annoying; she is only being annoying today. For adjectives, this generally applies to adjectives that require an action (e.g. being silly, being rude) and not states (dead, tired).
3. I have not ate anything today.
I have not eaten anything today.
4. If I am a child, I would play outside.
If I were a child, I would play outside.
* Second conditional = If + past tense, subject + would/could/might. The second conditional is used for unreal situations. Fact: You are not a child. But, if you were a child, you would play outside. Review conditionals here.
5. Everyone have seen that movie.
Everyone has seen that movie.
- This is a problem with subject-verb-agreement.
6. If we will be late, they will be angry.
It we are late, they will be angry.
* Being late is a real possibility, so you should use the first conditional. First conditional = If + subject + present simple, subject + will. Review conditionals here.
7. My father is thinking that I should stop smoking.
My father thinks I should stop smoking.
* In this sentence, the verb think is a state verb. It is generally not used in the progressive (~ing) tense. See our lesson on state verbs.
8. Look! It is snow.
Look! It is snowing.
* Use the present progressive tense if you want to describe what is happening now.
9. I fell asleep while I watched TV.
I fell asleep while I was watching TV.
*After while use past progressive. Again, this is a longer action (watching TV) that was interrupted by a shorter action (fell asleep).
10. I have lived in Canada since 10 months.
I have lived in Canada for 10 months.
- For describes a duration. Since describes when an action began.
11. There is a warm country.
It is a warm country. / That country is warm.
*In the above sentence, ‘There‘ is an adverb that indicates a place. An adverb should not be the subject of a sentence. Instead, use ‘It’ as the subject. It is a pronoun.
12. I have not an iPhone.
I do not have an iPhone.
* People do not say “I have not (something)” anymore. This is old-fashioned English.
13. I haven’t ever been to Korea.
I haven’t been to Korea. / I have never been to Korea.
* Ever is only used with the present perfect in questions. It is not used in statements.
14. The students have a good time in class today.
The students are having a good time in class today.
* The verb have is a state verb, so it shouldn’t be used in the progressive (~ing) tenses. However, to ‘have a good time‘ is an expression (just like have a baby, have a party). These expressions are actions, so they can be used in the progressive tense.
15. John probably isn’t going to come to school tomorrow.
John probably won’t come to school tomorrow.
* Use will for predictions. Use be + going to for plans that are already decided.
16. If the world ended tomorrow, I will be very sad.
If the world ended tomorrow, I would be very sad.
* This is the second conditional. It is for a present unreal condition. There is a very low chance the world will end tomorrow. The speaker does not believe it will happen. Therefore, to show that it’s not a real possibility, we use the second conditional.
17. I still did my homework at 10:30 pm last night.
I was still doing my homework at 10:30 pm last night.
* Use past progressive for actions that were in progress at a specific time in the past.
18. He can speak Japanese because he was born in Canada.
He can speak Japanese even though/although he was born in Canada.
* These ideas contrast each other, so we should use ‘even though/though/although‘.
19. Lee afraid of snakes.
Lee is afraid of snakes.
* afraid is an adjective. A verb is still needed.
20. The students were not interested in the lesson because it was bored.
The students were not interested in the lesson because it was boring.
* An explanation of this answer can be found here.
How many answers did you get correct? If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below.
How can you improve your English? The best way is to practice speaking and writing with a teacher who can give you feedback on your mistakes. If you don’t have a teacher, there is also free software such as Grammarly that can give you grammar feedback while you type.
If you’d like to see some more common mistakes, please visit these related pages:
- 34 Common English Mistakes (Version 1)
- 23 Common English Mistakes (Version 3)
- 20 Common Mistakes made by Czechs
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