A CHECKLIST OF COMMON MISTAKES

What follows is a list of the most common language mistakes occurring in student papers. We have arranged the errors into grammatical categories. Study the list and avoid making the same mistakes yourselves. [Click here to see all the CORRECT sentences] [Click here to see all the INCORRECT sentences] [Click here to see all the CORRECT and INCORRECT sentences] [BAC1 students in English Literature should click HERE to correct the mistakes interactively and will have to enter their ULg "identifiant" and "mot de passe" to access the page. Others, whose work need not be monitored, may click here.]

Correct usage is highlighted in green

 

[Misuse of the definite article][Prepositions][Pronouns][Negation][Verb forms][Possessive forms][Countable and uncountable nouns][Vocabulary][Miscellaneous errors][Interesting links]

 

The following sentences are the CORRECT versions.

Misuse of the definite article:

Abstract nouns do not normally take the definite article when used in generalisations:

Right
‘The gang cannot distinguish Good from Evil'
‘She is afraid to enter/of entering the house to face reality’
‘He prefers to live close to nature because he is afraid of death’

2. Prepositions:

wrong use of ‘at’ after ‘come’:

‘They come home’
‘We can follow the evolution of her state of mind through the description of the house’

wrong use of ‘‘with’ instead of ‘to’:

‘Daisy is married to Tom’

wrong use of ‘to’ instead of ‘with’

‘The problem I am confronted with

wrong use of ‘during’ instead of ‘for’:

‘She has not seen her son for eight years’

wrong use of ‘since’ instead of ‘for’:

‘They have known each other for eight years’ 

wrong use of ‘in the whole of’ instead of ‘throughout’:

throughout the story…’

wrong use of ‘in’ instead of ‘inside’ :

‘She is unaware of the conflict happening inside her’

wrong use of ‘in’ instead of ‘into’:

‘She only wants to get into her son’s room’

wrong use of ‘as’ instead of ‘like’:

‘She felt like a stranger’

wrong use of ‘of’ instead of ‘with’:

‘They cause Mrs Carnavon to be disgusted with herself’

wrong use of ‘of’ instead of ‘by’:

‘In this story by Doris Lessing…’

wrong use of ‘of’ instead of ‘for’:

‘I think there are two reasons for the fact that she decides to clear the room’
‘She feels confused, and the reason for this is to be found in…’

wrong use of ‘that’ instead of ‘as’:

The second waiter feels the same as the old man’

wrong use of ‘to’ instead of ‘with’ after ‘confront’:

‘They are confronted with an inextricable situation’

wrong use of ‘to’ instead of ‘at’ after ‘arrive’:

‘She must arrive at a decision’

wrong use of ‘explain’ without ‘to’:

‘This story explains to us how we must look beyond the appearance of things’

wrong use of ‘say’ without ‘to’:

‘He said to him/told him that he liked the house’

wrong use of ‘present’ without ‘with’:

‘John O’Hara presents us with the evolution of a mother’s state of mind’

Pronouns:

wrong use of ‘him/her’ instead of ‘himself/herself’(when the object and the subject are the same person):

‘She sees herself from a certain distance’

wrong use ofwho’ (personal pronoun) instead of ‘which’ (impersonal pronoun):

‘The wolf, which is a wild animal…’

wrong use of ‘the one of’ instead of ‘that of’:

‘Mrs Carnavon’s behaviour is that of a depressed person’
‘The third image is that of the magazine’

Negation:

wrong use of ‘also not’ instead of ‘nor’:

‘He felt no qualm of conscience, nor any regret’

wrong use of ‘not anymore’ instead of ‘no longer’:

‘She must go back home because it is no longer possible to stay in France’

Verb forms

Inconsistent tenses:

‘Her stepfather often comes to see her. One day he asks her..’ 

Wrong use of the present continuous instead of the present simple:

‘The atmosphere is tense and the author intensifies it further with words like…’

Wrong use of the infinitive instead of the present participle:

‘This is a way to protect herself and to avoid showing what she really feels’
‘This shows that she is not used to going into her son’s room’

Wrong use of the present participle instead of the infinitive:

‘This scene explains her decision to get rid of Harry’s belongings’

Wrong use of a ‘that’ subclause instead of the infinitive:

‘He would like the old man to leave
‘She wants them to know’

Wrong use of ‘can’ instead of ‘may’:

‘When we watch movies we may or may not identify with the characters’

Wrong use of the present tense instead of the present perfect:

‘Jim and Crystal Styan have lived/have been living in a log cabin by a river for five years’

Possessive forms

Wrong use of ‘who’s’ instead of ‘whose’:

‘The story is about a woman whose son has died’

Wrong use of ‘it’s’ instead of ‘its’:

‘This is an intriguing story, its setting is significant’

Wrong use of the definite article in possessive forms:

The Spielberg film / Spielberg’s film’

Countable and uncountable nouns

Wrong use of ‘informations’ instead of ‘information’:

We are given much information about the characters’ thoughts’

Wrong use of ‘evidences’ instead of ‘evidence’:

‘We have little evidence that the author is being ironic’

Vocabulary

Wrong use of ‘admit’ instead of ‘accept’:

‘Her son is dead and she can’t accept it

Wrong use of ‘accept’ instead of ‘agree’:

‘He agreed to come to the cinema’

Wrong use of ‘actual’ instead of ‘current’:

'The article is in the current edition of Le Monde Diplomatique’

Wrong use of ‘current’ instead of ‘common’:

‘The story offers a metaphor for a common misunderstanding between generations’

Wrong use of ‘good’ instead of ‘right/correct’:

‘Mrs Carnavon tries to take the right/correct decision’

Wrong use of ‘good’ instead of ‘well’:

They knew each other really well

Wrong use of ‘good’ instead of ‘effective’:

The description of the place is most effective’

Wrong use of ‘loose’ instead of ‘lose’:

‘She does not want to lose her memories of him’

Wrong use of ‘remember’ instead of ‘remind’:

‘She decides to remove all the things which could remind her of her son’

Wrong use of ‘support’ instead of ‘bear’ or ‘stand’:

‘She does this because she can’t bear/stand seeing the door locked’

Wrong use of ‘this’ instead of ‘it is’ (as a translation of ‘c’est’) at the beginning of sentences:

It is here that the story really begins’

Wrong use of ‘according to me’ instead of ‘in my opinion’ (‘in my view’, ‘as I see it’, etc.):

In my opinion, the title of the story reflects Mrs Carnavon’s state of mind’

Wrong use of ‘tell’ instead of ‘speak’:

‘In this story Kate Chopin speaks about social class’

Wrong use of ‘make’ instead of ‘do’:

‘But we don’t know what her husband does to her’

Wrong use ofdevelop’ instead of ‘analyse’:

‘I will now analyse the symbolism of the house’

Wrong use of ‘remark’ instead of ‘notice’:

‘He wants to talk to her but then notices that…’

Wrong use of ‘find again’ instead of ‘rediscover’:

‘She want to rediscover the traces of his existence’

Wrong use of ‘project’ instead of ‘plan’:

‘She has to do what she planned’

Wrong use of ‘decease’ instead of ‘die’:

‘Time stopped when Harry died’

Wrong use of ‘get in’ instead of ‘enter’:

‘As soon as she enters the house’ 

Wrong use of ‘critic’ instead of ‘review’

‘I have read a very good review of that book’

Miscellaneous:

Always use full forms in formal essays:

‘cannot’, ‘will not’, ‘who would’, ‘we are’, etc.

Confusion of noun with adjectival form, e.g. ‘ironic’ instead of ‘irony’:

‘The last sentence of the story is ironic’

Confusion of the noun form with the infinitive, e.g. ‘apologies’ with ‘apologize’:

‘I must apologize for being late’

Wrong use of ‘News’ with ‘are’ instead of ‘is’:

‘What is the latest news?’

Failure to capitalise days of the week and adjectives of nationality:

‘See you on Wednesday
‘His behaviour is classically British’

Interesting links:

[Common errors compiled by the Virtual Language Centre]

[Common errors in English]

 

 

Incorrect usage is highlighted in red

 

[Misuse of the definite article][Prepositions][Pronouns][Negation][Verb forms][Possessive forms][Countable and uncountable nouns][Vocabulary][Miscellaneous errors][Interesting links]

The following sentences are the WRONG ones

Misuse of the definite article:

Abstract nouns do not normally take the definite article when used in generalisations:

Wrong
‘The gang cannot distinguish the Good from the Evil’
‘She is afraid to enter the house, to face the reality’
‘He prefers to live close to the nature because he is afraid of the death’

Prepositions:

‘at’ after ‘come’:

‘They come at home’
‘We can follow the evolution of her state of mind by the description of the house’

‘with’ instead of ‘to’:

‘Daisy is married with Tom’

‘to’ instead of ‘with’

‘The problem I am confronted to’

‘during’ instead of ‘for’:

‘She has not seen her son during eight years’

‘since’ instead of ‘for’:

‘They have known each other since eight years’

‘in the whole of’ instead of ‘throughout’:

In the whole story…’

‘in’ instead of ‘inside’ :

‘She is unaware of the conflict happening in her’

‘in’ instead of ‘into’:

‘She only wants to get in her son’s room’

‘as’ instead of ‘like’:

‘She felt as a stranger’

‘of’ instead of ‘with’:

‘They cause Mrs Carnavon to be disgusted of herself’

‘of’ instead of ‘by’:

‘In this story of Doris Lessing…’

‘of’ instead of ‘for’:

‘I think there are two reasons of the fact that she decides to clear the room’
‘She feels confused, and the reason of this is to be found in…’

‘that’ instead of ‘as’:

‘The second waiter feels the same that the old man’

‘to’ instead of ‘with’ after ‘confront’:

‘They are confronted to an inextricable situation’

‘to’ instead of ‘at’ after ‘arrive’:

‘She must arrive to a decision’

‘explain’ without ‘to’:

‘This story explains us how we must look beyond the appearance of things’

‘say’ without ‘to’:

‘He said him that he liked the house’

‘present’ without ‘with’:

‘John O’Hara presents us the evolution of a mother’s state of mind’

Pronouns:

‘him/her’ instead of ‘himself/herself’(when the object and the subject are the same person):

‘She sees her from a certain distance’

who’ (personal pronoun) instead of ‘which’ (impersonal pronoun):

‘The wolf, who is a wild animal…’

‘the one of’ instead of ‘that of’:

‘Mrs Carnavon’s behaviour is the one of a depressed person’
‘The third image is the one of the magazine’

Negation:

‘also not’ instead of ‘nor’:

‘He felt no qualm of conscience, and also not any regret’

‘not anymore’ instead of ‘no longer’:

‘She must go back home because it is not possible anymore to stay in France’

Verb forms

Inconsistent tenses:

‘Her stepfather often comes to see her. One day he asked her…’

Use of the present continuous instead of the present simple:

‘The atmosphere is tense and the author is still intensifying it with words like…’

Use of the infinitive instead of the present participle:

‘This is a way to protect herself and to avoid to show what she really feels’
‘This shows that she is not used to go into her son’s room’

Use of the present participle instead of the infinitive:

‘This scene explains her decision of getting rid of Harry’s belongings’

Use of a ‘that’ subclause instead of the infinitive:

‘He would like that the old man leaves
She wants that they know

‘can’ instead of ‘may’:

‘When we watch movies we can or cannot identify with the characters’

Use of the present tense instead of the present perfect:

‘Jim and Crystal Styan live in a log cabin by a river for five years’

Possessive forms

‘who’s’ instead of ‘whose’:

‘The story is about a woman who’s son has died’

‘it’s’ instead of ‘its’:

‘This is an intriguing story, it’s setting is significant’

use of the definite article in possessive forms:

The Spielberg’s film’

Countable and uncountable nouns

‘informations’ instead of ‘information’:

‘We are given many informations about the characters’ thoughts’

‘evidences’ instead of ‘evidence’:

‘We have few evidences that the author is being ironic’

Vocabulary

‘admit’ instead of ‘accept’:

‘Her son is dead and she can’t admit it’

‘accept’ instead of ‘agree’:

‘He accepted to come to the cinema’

‘actual’ instead of ‘current’:

‘The article is in the actual edition of Le Monde Diplomatique’

‘current’ instead of ‘common’:

‘The story offers a metaphor for a current misunderstanding between generations’

‘good’ instead of ‘right/correct’:

‘Mrs Carnavon tries to take the good decision’

‘good’ instead of ‘well’:

‘They knew each other really good’

‘good’ instead of ‘effective’:

‘The description of the place is most good’

‘loose’ instead of ‘lose’:

‘She does not want to loose her memories of him’

‘remember’ instead of ‘remind’:

‘She decides to remove all the things which could remember her of her son’

‘support’ instead of ‘bear’ or ‘stand’:

‘She does this because she can’t support seeing the door locked’

‘this’ instead of ‘it is’ (as a translation of ‘c’est’) at the beginning of sentences:

This is here that the story really begins’

‘according to me’ instead of ‘in my opinion’ (‘in my view’, ‘as I see it’, etc.):

According to me, the title of the story reflects Mrs Carnavon’s state of mind’

‘tell’ instead of ‘speak’:

‘In this story Kate Chopin tells about social class’

‘make’ instead of ‘do’:

‘But we don’t know what her husband makes her’

develop’ instead of ‘analyse’:

‘I will now develop the house’s symbolism’

‘remark’ instead of ‘notice’:

‘He wants to talk to her but then remarks that…’

‘find again’ instead of ‘rediscover’:

‘She wants to find again the traces of his existence’

‘project’ instead of ‘plan’:

‘She has to do what she projected

‘decease’ instead of ‘die’:

‘Time stopped when Harry deceased

‘get in’ instead of ‘enter’:

‘As soon as she gets in the house’

‘critic’ instead of ‘review’

‘I have read a very good critic of that book’

Miscellaneous:

Always use full forms in formal essays; never use the following:

‘can’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘who’d’, ‘we’re’, etc.

Confusion of noun with adjectival form, e.g. ‘irony’ instead of ‘ironic’:

‘The last sentence of the story is irony’

Confusion of the noun form with the infinitive, e.g. ‘apologies’ with ‘apologize’:

‘I must apologies for being late’

‘News’ with ‘are’ instead of ‘is’:

‘What are the latest news?’

Failure to capitalise days of the week and adjectives of nationality:

‘See you on wednesday’
His behaviour is classically british

Interesting links:

[Common errors compiled by the Virtual Language Centre]

[Common errors in English]

 

Correct usage is highlighted in green on the left Incorrect usage is highlighted in red on the right

 

[Misuse of the definite article][Prepositions][Pronouns][Negation][Verb forms][Possessive forms][Countable and uncountable nouns][Vocabulary][Miscellaneous errors][Interesting links]

Misuse of the definite article:

Abstract nouns do not normally take the definite article when used in generalisations:

Right
Wrong
‘The gang cannot distinguish Good from Evil’ ‘The gang cannot distinguish the Good from the Evil’
‘She is afraid to enter/of entering the house to face reality’ ‘She is afraid to enter the house, to face the reality’
‘He prefers to live close to nature because he is afraid of death’ ‘He prefers to live close to the nature because he is afraid of the death’

Prepositions:

‘at’ after ‘come’:

‘They come home’ ‘They come at home’
‘We can follow the evolution of her state of mind through the description of the house’ ‘We can follow the evolution of her state of mind by the description of the house’

‘with’ instead of ‘to’:

‘Daisy is married to Tom’ ‘Daisy is married with Tom’

‘to’ instead of ‘with’

‘The problem I am confronted with ‘The problem I am confronted to’

‘during’ instead of ‘for’:

‘She has not seen her son for eight years’ ‘She has not seen her son during eight years’

‘since’ instead of ‘for’:

‘They have known each other for eight years’  ‘They have known each other since eight years’

‘in the whole of’ instead of ‘throughout’:

throughout the story…’ In the whole story…’

‘in’ instead of ‘inside’ :

‘She is unaware of the conflict happening inside her’ ‘She is unaware of the conflict happening in her’

‘in’ instead of ‘into’:

‘She only wants to get into her son’s room’ ‘She only wants to get in her son’s room’

‘as’ instead of ‘like’:

‘She felt like a stranger’ ‘She felt as a stranger’

‘of’ instead of ‘with’:

‘They cause Mrs Carnavon to be disgusted with herself’ ‘They cause Mrs Carnavon to be disgusted of herself’

‘of’ instead of ‘by’:

‘In this story by Doris Lessing…’ ‘In this story of Doris Lessing…’

‘of’ instead of ‘for’:

‘I think there are two reasons for the fact that she decides to clear the room’ ‘I think there are two reasons of the fact that she decides to clear the room’
‘She feels confused, and the reason for this is to be found in…’ ‘She feels confused, and the reason of this is to be found in…’

‘that’ instead of ‘as’:

The second waiter feels the same as the old man’ ‘The second waiter feels the same that the old man’

‘to’ instead of ‘with’ after ‘confront’:

‘They are confronted with an inextricable situation’ ‘They are confronted to an inextricable situation’

‘to’ instead of ‘at’ after ‘arrive’:

‘She must arrive at a decision’ ‘She must arrive to a decision’

‘explain’ without ‘to’:

‘This story explains to us how we must look beyond the appearance of things’ ‘This story explains us how we must look beyond the appearance of things’

‘say’ without ‘to’:

‘He said to him/told him that he liked the house’ ‘He said him that he liked the house’

‘present’ without ‘with’:

‘John O’Hara presents us with the evolution of a mother’s state of mind’ ‘John O’Hara presents us the evolution of a mother’s state of mind’

 

Pronouns:

‘him/her’ instead of ‘himself/herself’(when the object and the subject are the same person):

‘She sees herself from a certain distance’ ‘She sees her from a certain distance’

who’ (personal pronoun) instead of ‘which’ (impersonal pronoun):

‘The wolf, which is a wild animal…’ ‘The wolf, who is a wild animal…’

 

‘the one of’ instead of ‘that of’:

‘Mrs Carnavon’s behaviour is that of a depressed person’ ‘Mrs Carnavon’s behaviour is the one of a depressed person’
‘The third image is that of the magazine’ ‘The third image is the one of the magazine’

 

Negation:

‘also not’ instead of ‘nor’:

‘He felt no qualm of conscience, nor any regret’ ‘He felt no qualm of conscience, and also not any regret’

‘not anymore’ instead of ‘no longer’:

‘She must go back home because it is no longer possible to stay in France’ ‘She must go back home because it is not possible anymore to stay in France’

 

Verb forms

Inconsistent tenses:

‘Her stepfather often comes to see her. One day he asks her..’  ‘Her stepfather often comes to see her. One day he asked her…’

Use of the present continuous instead of the present simple:

‘The atmosphere is tense and the author intensifies it further with words like…’ ‘The atmosphere is tense and the author is still intensifying it with words like…’

Use of the infinitive instead of the present participle:

‘This is a way to protect herself and to avoid showing what she really feels’ ‘This is a way to protect herself and to avoid to show what she really feels’
‘This shows that she is not used to going into her son’s room’ ‘This shows that she is not used to go into her son’s room’

Use of the present participle instead of the infinitive:

‘This scene explains her decision to get rid of Harry’s belongings’ ‘This scene explains her decision of getting rid of Harry’s belongings’

Use of a ‘that’ subclause instead of the infinitive:

‘He would like the old man to leave ‘He would like that the old man leaves
‘She wants them to know’ She wants that they know

‘can’ instead of ‘may’:

‘When we watch movies we may or may not identify with the characters’ ‘When we watch movies we can or cannot identify with the characters’

Use of the present tense instead of the present perfect:

‘Jim and Crystal Styan have lived/have been living in a log cabin by a river for five years’ ‘Jim and Crystal Styan live in a log cabin by a river for five years’

 

Possessive forms

‘who’s’ instead of ‘whose’:

‘The story is about a woman whose son has died’

‘The story is about a woman who’s son has died’

 

‘it’s’ instead of ‘its’:

‘This is an intriguing story, its setting is significant’ ‘This is an intriguing story, it’s setting is significant’

use of the definite article in possessive forms:

The Spielberg film / Spielberg’s film’ The Spielberg’s film’

Countable and uncountable nouns

‘informations’ instead of ‘information’:

We are given much information about the characters’ thoughts’ ‘We are given many informations about the characters’ thoughts’

‘evidences’ instead of ‘evidence’:

‘We have little evidence that the author is being ironic’ ‘We have few evidences that the author is being ironic’

Vocabulary

‘admit’ instead of ‘accept’:

‘Her son is dead and she can’t accept it ‘Her son is dead and she can’t admit it’

‘accept’ instead of ‘agree’:

‘He agreed to come to the cinema’ ‘He accepted to come to the cinema’

‘actual’ instead of ‘current’:

'The article is in the current edition of Le Monde Diplomatique’ ‘The article is in the actual edition of Le Monde Diplomatique’

‘current’ instead of ‘common’:

‘The story offers a metaphor for a common misunderstanding between generations’ ‘The story offers a metaphor for a current misunderstanding between generations’

‘good’ instead of ‘right/correct’:

‘Mrs Carnavon tries to take the right/correct decision’ ‘Mrs Carnavon tries to take the good decision’

‘good’ instead of ‘well’:

They knew each other really well ‘They knew each other really good’

‘good’ instead of ‘effective’:

The description of the place is most effective’ ‘The description of the place is most good’

‘loose’ instead of ‘lose’:

‘She does not want to lose her memories of him’ ‘She does not want to loose her memories of him’

‘remember’ instead of ‘remind’:

‘She decides to remove all the things which could remind her of her son’ ‘She decides to remove all the things which could remember her of her son’

‘support’ instead of ‘bear’ or ‘stand’:

‘She does this because she can’t bear/stand seeing the door locked’ ‘She does this because she can’t support seeing the door locked’

‘this’ instead of ‘it is’ (as a translation of ‘c’est’) at the beginning of sentences:

It is here that the story really begins’ This is here that the story really begins’

‘according to me’ instead of ‘in my opinion’ (‘in my view’, ‘as I see it’, etc.):

In my opinion, the title of the story reflects Mrs Carnavon’s state of mind’ According to me, the title of the story reflects Mrs Carnavon’s state of mind’

‘tell’ instead of ‘speak’:

‘In this story Kate Chopin speaks about social class’ ‘In this story Kate Chopin tells about social class’

‘make’ instead of ‘do’:

‘But we don’t know what her husband does to her’ ‘But we don’t know what her husband makes her’

develop’ instead of ‘analyse’:

‘I will now analyse the symbolism of the house’ ‘I will now develop the house’s symbolism’

‘remark’ instead of ‘notice’:

‘He wants to talk to her but then notices that…’ ‘He wants to talk to her but then remarks that…’

‘find again’ instead of ‘rediscover’:

‘She want to rediscover the traces of his existence’ ‘She wants to find again the traces of his existence’

‘project’ instead of ‘plan’:

‘She has to do what she planned’ ‘She has to do what she projected

‘decease’ instead of ‘die’:

‘Time stopped when Harry died’ ‘Time stopped when Harry deceased

‘get in’ instead of ‘enter’:

‘As soon as she enters the house’  ‘As soon as she gets in the house’

‘critic’ instead of ‘review’

‘I have read a very good review of that book’ ‘I have read a very good critic of that book’

Miscellaneous:

Always use full forms in formal essays:

‘cannot’, ‘will not’, ‘who would’, ‘we are’, etc. ‘can’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘who’d’, ‘we’re’, etc.

Confusion of noun with adjectival form, e.g. ‘ironic’ instead of ‘irony’:

‘The last sentence of the story is ironic’ ‘The last sentence of the story is irony’

Confusion of the noun form with the infinitive, e.g. ‘apologies’ with ‘apologize’:

‘I must apologize for being late’ ‘I must apologies for being late’

‘News’ with ‘are’ instead of ‘is’:

‘What is the latest news?’ ‘What are the latest news?’

Failure to capitalise days of the week and adjectives of nationality:

‘See you on Wednesday ‘See you on wednesday’
‘His behaviour is classically British’ His behaviour is classically british

Interesting links:

[Common errors compiled by the Virtual Language Centre]

[Common errors in English]