The Most Common Mistakes in English | Don’t Make These Speaking Mistakes!

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Do you make any of these common English speaking mistakes? Let’s test your skills and find out!

Today’s lesson is action-packed! I’ve got 30 common English mistakes that EVERYONE makes – my students (even native English speakers!)

You’ve heard me say that your mistakes are the best way to learn. That’s why I designed this lesson as a TEST! To help you find out WHERE you are making mistakes… And fix them!

You’ll first have a chance to spot and correct the mistake yourself. I’ll then give you the correct answer and the explanation.

If you get it right, then that’s awesome!
If you get it wrong, then this is the perfect time to learn.

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well, hey there! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and today I have thirty extremely common English speaking mistakes. These are definitely mistakes that my English students make but some of them are even mistakes that native English speakers make too.

Throughout this whole lesson, I’ll be introducing each mistake with a sentence on screen and you will have a few moments to try and spot the mistake.

If you don’t spot the mistake or you can’t see what’s wrong with the sentence well you know exactly what you need to practise and revise next, right?

And I’ve probably got a Youtube lesson which I can share with you to help because there’s actually over two hundred videos here on the mmmEnglish channel so there’s sure to be one that will help.

I’ve also made you a little workbook that you can download to review the grammar that we go through in today’s video and some extra practice activities that you can use to boost your skills. You can download the lesson workbook down in the description below. If you’re already on my email mailing list, don’t worry I will send it to you with this week’s lesson.

Okay let’s go!

Hey, today’s lesson is brought to you by Hey Lady! an online community for women learning English. Hey Lady! makes it easy and affordable to meet, make friends and to practise speaking English together in a really safe and supportive online space.

When you join Hey Lady! you’ll be connected with expert language coaches, interesting conversation topics and a social network of friends to practise with. If you’re looking for a more engaging and more enjoyable way to improve your English and to stay motivated to reach your goals, make sure you join our mailing list to get all the latest updates and be the first to know about our special offers.

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  • My name Emma. ❌
  • My name is Emma. ✅

That sentence needs a verb to connect the subject of the sentence to the information about the subject, easy.

  • I’m having a new computer. ❌
  • I have a new computer. ✅

Have is a stative verb of possession and stative verbs, they aren’t usually used in the continuous tense when you talk about owning something for example.

And there are many English verbs that fall into this category, being stative verbs. It’s really easy to use verbs incorrectly. If it’s a stative verb it can’t be used in the continuous form.

He have to work this weekend. ❌
I have to work this weekend. ✅
You have to work this weekend. ✅
They have to work this weekend. ✅

When we’re speaking in the first person, in the second person or in the third person plural we use have.

  • He has to work this weekend. ✅

We use has for speaking in the third person singular, don’t we? So when the subject is she, he or it.

Are you getting these right so far? I’m starting easy.

She doesn’t like it.

This is actually a similar mistake to the last one, it should be: She doesn’t like it.

We use doesn’t for the third person singular, with he, she and it.

  • He doesn’t like it.
  • It doesn’t work like that.

So of course, we use don’t for speaking in the first person, I. The second person, you. And the third person plural, they.

  • What did you do yesterday?
    Ah I go to work and then I watch a movie. ❌

What is wrong here? What’s wrong with that response?

  • I went to work and then I watched, watched a movie. ✅

So if the question is asking about the past, what did you do? So of course the answer also needs to be in the past tense so our verbs need to shift.

I didn’t drove there. ❌

This is a really common mistake. It should be: I didn’t drive there. ✅

So the auxiliary verbs did and didn’t they’re already telling us that we’re talking about the past right so your main verb should not be in the past tense too, it’s in the base form, it’s a common mistake.

If your auxiliary verb is already telling you it’s in the past, your main verb doesn’t need to.

  • I get a lot of work done in the plane. ❌
  • I get a lot of work done on the plane. ✅

Oh gosh English prepositions, they can be a bit of a headache, can’t they? But here’s the thing, if you’re talking about public transport like a bus, a plane, a train, then we say on.

But if it’s your own plane or your own car, then we’ll say in. I like driving in my car.

  • I can’t find my keys nowhere. ❌
  • I can’t find my keys anywhere. ✅

So in the first sentence, there are two negatives. Can you see them?

Can’t and nowhere.

So in English, it’s grammatically incorrect to use a double negative like this, however, you still have native speakers communicating like this,

Even though it’s technically incorrect, they still do it.

  • Don’t ask me nothing. ❌
  • Don’t ask me anything. ✅

That’s correct.

  • I prefer walking than running. ❌
  • I prefer walking to running. ✅

When we’re comparing two things and we’re using the verb prefer then the preposition that we need to use is to.

  • The report was written by Shah and I. ❌
  • The report was written by Shah and me. ✅

This is another rule that you’ll hear native English speakers breaking often.

So then the question really is if native speakers do it all the time, is it really a mistake?

Technically speaking we use the word me when the pronoun is the object of a sentence so the object follows the verb. I’m the verb because the report is being written by me and Shah.

  • Shah and me wrote the report. ❌
    It’s incorrect, right?
  • Shah and I wrote the report. ✅

We use I when the pronoun is the subject of our sentence. I’m the subject because I’m performing the action of writing the report along with Shah.

  • One of the cars are late. ❌
  • One of the cars is late. ✅

A singular subject needs a singular verb. We’re only talking about one car here in this sentence, aren’t we?

  • The moon is bigger than yesterday. ❌
  • The moon is bigger than it was yesterday. ✅

So in this sentence, you’re talking about the size of the moon today and then we’re using the present tense is but we’re comparing it to the size of the moon yesterday.

So we need to use the past tense was. It’s really important to be specific here when you’re looking at the tense and the object because otherwise, it could sound like you’re comparing the moon to yesterday. It’s hard to compare those things.

  • I’m just gonna lay down for a minute. ❌
  • I’m just gonna lie down for a minute. ✅

The word lay needs to relate to a direct object. It’s to put something down in a resting position.

I’ll lay this book down here.

Now lie doesn’t require a direct object so you can lie down but someone else needs to lay you down. They have to do the action but you have to be careful with this one because sorry but the past tense of lie is lay.

  • I lay down after dinner last night.
  • Tonight I’ll go lie down a little earlier.
  • You should put less potatoes in the pot. ❌
  • You should put fewer potatoes in the pot. ✅

We use fewer for countable nouns. We use less for uncountable nouns so we could say: You should use less water in the pot.

  • Sure I can borrow you my car. ❌
  • I can lend you my car. ✅

To lend something means to give, to borrow means to take. Okay?

  • So can I borrow your car? ❌
  • Can you lend me your car? ✅
  • The football match was effected by the weather. ❌
  • The football match was affected by the weather. ✅

Affect is a verb, it means to impact or to influence something in some way. And in this case, the weather impacted the football match.

Effect is a noun and it’s the result of that change. So the effect of the cancelled football match was felt by all the players. They didn’t get to play.

And you guessed it, I have an awesome video that goes into detail to explain the difference between affect and effect. You can watch it right up there.

  • You should take some rest. ❌
  • You should get some rest. ✅

This is an example of a collocation where words commonly appear together in English and so they should be learned together in this way. The verb get is often used with the noun rest, the verb take is not.

But we do say take time to rest. Got to be paying attention to these things.

Unfortunately, there are no fixed rules for collocations in English which is why it’s so important that as you learn new words you’re also paying attention to and you’re learning the words that often get used with that word so you’re learning words in groups, in chunks together.

  • I’ve been living in France since four years. ❌
  • I’ve been living in France for four years. ✅

For is used when we’re talking about a period of time. Since relates to a specific point in time so we use it with dates.

  • I’ve been living in France since 2017. ✅
  • The movie was too good. ❌

This is a really common mistake that some of you make. A habit that you really need to try and break because it can lead to misunderstandings.

The meaning of this sentence is actually a little different to the one that you intended. What you mean to say is:

  • The movie was very good / The movie was really good. ✅
    I loved it. I enjoyed it.

Too good is more good than you want it to be. So it’s actually a bad thing, believe it or not. It’s actually a negative thing for something to be too good.

Now I’ll be honest there are a few exceptions in the way that English is spoken by native English speakers informally but generally, I would just avoid saying that something is too good, okay?

  • I could have passed if I studied harder. ❌
  • I could have passed if I studied harder. ✅

This is another one that native English speakers can mess up too. Of is a preposition and it just doesn’t appear with modal verbs in this way. The tricky thing here and it’s tricky for all of us is that the sound that is used for of and have is exactly the same in naturally spoken English so could of and could have sound like could’ve when spoken quickly.

So that’s why even native English speakers can mess this up because the sound is exactly the same.

  • Whom makes the final decision? ❌
  • Who makes the final decision? ✅

We use who to refer to the subject of a sentence and the word whom is really becoming less and less common in the English language. It’s perceived to be quite formal.

But you would use whom if you were referring to the object of a verb or a preposition. To be honest, I don’t know with whom the final decision lies.

Here’s a little trick. If you can replace the pronoun with him or her, it’s possible to use whom. The final decision lies with him or her, not he or she.

  • Say me your name. ❌
  • Tell me your name. ✅

Say and tell are both irregular reporting verbs and they have a similar meaning but they emphasise different things. With tell, the focus is on the listener, tell me or tell her, tell them.

But with say, the focus is on the information. She said that they’re going to be late so ‘going to be late’ is the information that she’s saying.

  • I’ll revert back to you shortly. ❌
  • I’ll revert to you shortly. ✅

Revert means to return to something so if you say revert back, you’re actually using two words with the same meaning in the one sentence and the same thing could be said for reply.

You would say: I’ll reply to your email later. ✅
Not I’ll reply back to your email later ❌ We don’t need it.

  • I could care less about that. ❌
  • I couldn’t care less about that. ✅

I don’t know, it’s all semantics, isn’t it? You will hear native speakers using both of these phrases so much that actually both of them are in the dictionary now.

But let’s take a quick look because it’s a really useful expression to learn and to use, you can use it all the time in the first sentence since you could care less, it still means that you do care a little right, just a tiny bit which isn’t what you mean to say with this sentence.

The second sentence means that you don’t care at all, it’s not possible for you to care less.

  • She sings really good. ❌
  • She sings really well. ✅

Good is an adjective, it modifies a noun and singing isn’t a noun, is it? It’s a verb. But well is an adverb so it modifies the verb sing right? But when we’re talking about health or being healthy, we also use well as an adjective in that situation.

Remember the meaning is different, right?

Good, well or health well. And the difference adverb adjective.

  • Irregardless of how you feel, I’m gonna do it. ❌
  • Regardless of how you feel, I’m gonna do it. ✅

The word irregardless is actually in the dictionary but it’s not standard English.

Adding the ir to regardless makes it a double negative so it actually changes the meaning of your sentence. It’s best to just stick with regardless, regardless.

  • She couldn’t possibly work more harder than she does now. ❌
  • She couldn’t possibly work harder than she does now. ✅

We’re talking about comparative adjectives here and we make comparative adjectives by either adding er to an adjective or by adding more before the adjective, not both together.

  • It was harder than I thought. ❌
  • It was more difficult than I thought. ✅

Both of those sentences are correct.

  • She’s the woman that took me to work. ❌
  • She’s the woman who took me to work. ✅

We use that to refer to groups or multiple things but we use who to refer to singular people or animals.

  • It was a very excellent party. ❌
  • It was an excellent party. ✅

Excellent is an extreme adjective and extreme adjectives, they’re already descriptive enough.

We don’t need to add more adverbs, it’s extremely with an adjective. So if you’re using extremely or very or really with your adjective then don’t use extreme adjectives along with it.

That was a lot to take in, so many common mistakes and important corrections to pay attention to as you are studying.  It was an action-packed lesson that’s for sure and I’m sure that you want to practise, practise, practise so that you don’t continue to make mistakes like that and you can improve and you can overcome some of the challenges that you’re facing with your grammar.

And you can do all of that by downloading the workbook that I made for you. I’ve written a short story in there that includes all thirty of these mistakes. I want you to find them and correct them so that you can improve and practise your own grammar skills.

Or you can keep practising with me right here. I’ll see you in there.

Links mentioned in the video

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