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Common Errors

When a beginner student of mine makes a mistake, most of the time it's an error that's normal for their level because they don't yet have a level that's advanced enough to know something in particular. However, it's also normal for students to have ingrained errors which they should be able to correct themselves, but which they don't because they either don't remember them when they speak or because they don't notice them. These common errors are normal and represent a phase through which all students must pass.

 
Victoria Fontana

Victoria Fontana

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William Christison
William Christison

Teaches English classes in companies and in his own private home.

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An article written by Victoria Fontana.
More info at: Business English.





Listen to the first part of the text:   MP3




All of these sentences have errors (What are the errors? What are the correct sentences?) :



  1. You like to go to the cinema or do you prefer the theatre?
  2. Who did eat my lunch?
  3. My best friend is architect.
  4. I can’t help you right now because I take a shower.
  5. We have a meeting the Friday.
  6. The last week, I saw three movies.
  7. I’m going to Paris for to learn French.
  8. You are going to have dinner with us tonight?
  9. He goed to the park yesterday with his family.
  10. I need to go to the store because we haven’t got nothing to eat.
  11. We live very near of the museum, so we go there often.
  12. This exercise is more easy than the last one.
  13. Say me the truth!
  14. This year I went to Niagara Falls and it was impressionant!
  15. The life is beautiful!
  16. Does John studies something new every month?
  17. What your sister looks like?
  18. Entered the room three men with her.
  19. Did they cried when she left?
  20. Last year I went on a travel with my family to Costa Rica.





Listen to the second part of the text:   MP3




Answers and explanations:



  1. Do you like to go to the cinema or do you prefer the theatre? You need the auxiliary verb "DO" in questions and negative sentences.
  2. Who ate my lunch? When the interrogative word also functions as the subject of the sentence, you do not need the auxiliary "DO."
  3. My best friend is an architect. You need to put an indefinite article before professions or when talking about what someone is, i.e.: "a student, a teacher, a doctor, an engineer," etc.
  4. I can't help you right now because I am taking a shower. You must use the present continuous when you are talking about what you are in the process of doing in the moment.
  5. We have a meeting on Friday. We do not use the definite article before days of the week unless we are talking about one day in particular, i.e.: "We have a dinner on the Friday before the wedding."
  6. Last week, I saw three movies. Again, we do not put a definite article before expressions like, "last week, month, year," etc., "this week, month, year, Wednesday," etc., or "next week, year, thursday," etc.
  7. I'm going to Paris to learn French. Spanish speakers often say "for to" which they translate from "para + infinitive." In English we just put the infinitive. You will never use "for to" together.
  8. Are you going to have dinner with us tonight? This is a question. The verb must go before the subject.
  9. He went to the park yesterday with his family. Past simple irregular.
  10. I need to go to the store because we haven’t got anything to eat. (or - ...we have nothing to eat) You can't put two negatives in the same sentence – this is called a double negative.
  11. We live very near the museum, so we go there often. "Near of" does not exist – "near the museum" or "close to the museum."
  12. This exercise is easier than the last one. Comparatives with either one syllable or with two syllables ending in "y" get the "-er" suffix. Words with 2 or more syllables get "more" i.e..: "more interesting," "more beautiful," etc.
  13. Tell me the truth! "Say to me" or "Tell me" – the person receiving the action with "say" is an indirect object and with "tell" this person is a direct object.
  14. This year I went to Niagara Falls and it was impressive (incredible, fantastic...)! "Impressionant" does not exist in English!
  15. Life is beautiful! This sentence talks about "life" in general, not "my life," or "your life" or "the life of someone in particular." When we talk about ideas in general, - "love is blind," "war is not good for anything," "hope is all we have left," "people are strange," etc. – we do not use the direct article.
  16. Does John study something new every month? When you have an auxiliary verb, you do not conjugate the main verb in the sentence.
  17. What does your sister look like? This sentence requires the auxiliary verb "DO" because it is a question. And you have to change "look" back to the infinitive. (see number 16)
  18. Three men entered the room with her. The subject must always come first in an affirmative statement, not the verb!
  19. Did they cry when she left? Again, the auxiliary verb takes tense and person, not the main verb. "Did" in this case is in the past and sets the tense, so "cried" must be in the infinitive.
  20. Last year I went on a trip with my family to Costa Rica. "Trip" is the noun, "travel" is the verb. "Travel" is usually only used as a noun in the plural, talking about someone’s journeys or trips in general. i.e..: "Gulliver’s Travels."


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Steven Starry
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