11 Common Mistakes English Learners make when Speaking English

April 26, 2017
26 April 2017,

The English language can be quite tricky! There are a few common mistakes many English language learners make when speaking English. In fact, many native English speakers can make some of these mistakes once in awhile. Read up on these 11 common mistakes English learners make when speaking English!


Forgetting to say ‘the’


In English, ‘the’ is called the definite article. This is because by using the word ‘the’ you are referring to a specific person, place, or thing. Look at the example below, by using the word ‘the’, we are sure the speaker is talking about a specific house and a specific black cat.


You might be saying: “I went to house and saw black cat!”

You should be saying: “I went to the house and saw the black cat!”


Forgetting to say ‘a/an’


Similar to the ‘the’ rule above, a/an are also articles. These words are called the indefinite articles because they refer to any object/person. In the example below, using a/an suggests you go to any concert, not a specific concert.


You might be saying: “Let’s to go concert this Saturday!”

You should be saying: “Let’s go to a concert this Saturday!”


Knowing when to use ‘a’ versus ‘an’ is simple! Use ‘a’ when the next word begins with a consonant (all letters except vowels) and use ‘an’ when the next word begins with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u).


Example: “I saw an alligator at the zoo!”

Example: “I’ve never seen a bear at the zoo!”


Interchangeably using ‘me’ and ‘I’


When learning the English language, it’s normal to become confused on when you should use ‘me’ and when you should use ‘I’. Again, this isn’t as tricky as it sounds! Let’s break it down:


‘I’ is the subject of the sentence.

‘Me’ is the object pronoun.


Example: “I’m going to the bathroom.”

Example: “The teacher allowed me go to the bathroom.”


Using more than one synonymous adjective in a row


Adjectives are a great way to further explain something when speaking English. However, you can’t use more than one adjective in a row that means the same thing.


You might be saying: “The very large big desk fell over!”

You should be saying: “The very large desk fell over!” OR “The very big desk fell over!”


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Using synonyms in place of other words


Many times, an English learner will look in the dictionary to find a new word to use instead of the word they have written. The word may mean something similar, but can’t be used in the context you want.


You might be saying: “My doorbell is out of control.”

You should be saying: My doorbell is out of order.”


Even though ‘order’ and ‘control’ have similar definitions. You can’t use them interchangeably because they are used in different contexts.


Using fake words


Words such as irregardless, firstly, ax (instead of ask), and funner aren’t words.


Misusing ‘too’, ‘to’, and ‘two’


Since ‘too’, ‘to’, and ‘two’ all sound the same, you can only make this mistake in writing.


To (1): a preposition that comes before a noun

To (2): use as an infinitive before a verb


Too (1): another way to say also

Too (2): to express excess


Two: 2


Unnecessarily making words Plural


This may be one of the most common mistakes English learners make when speaking in English


You might be saying: “Will you go homes with me?”

You should be saying: “Will you go home with me?”


Similarly, be aware that the plural of some words are spelled entirely differently and don’t just add on an ‘s’ or an ‘es’.


Example: 2+ mouse = mice


Saying a word multiple times to increase its meaning


Some new learners of the English language will “stack” adjectives together in place of saying emphasis words like ‘very’.


You might be saying: “The snow is making me cold cold cold.”

You should be saying: “The snow is making me very cold.”


Misusing ‘good’ and ‘well’


Interchangeably using ‘good’ and ‘well’ is a common mistake even native speakers make. ‘Good’ is an adjective and ‘well’ is an adverb.


Example: “He did a good job painting the house!”

Example: “I’m not feeling well today.”


Incorrect word order


Naturally, English learners want to communicate by using the same word order as their native language when speaking English. While this may seem more natural, it’s important to remember that English has specific word order guidelines.


You might be saying: “Is walked the dog?”

You should be saying: “Is the dog walked?”


You’re probably going to make some of these mistakes throughout your English learning journey whether you are speaking English casually with friends or using English at work. Keep this list in mind and refer back to it when you need a refresher. And don’t be discouraged! There is so much to learn, but you’re well equipt and determined! Remember this English mantra, “practice makes perfect!”.