The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made by ESL Students

imagesAfter teaching English as a foreign language for a bit, I’ve come to know what the most common mistakes are (at least for Italian and Spanish speakers). Here’s my selection of the ten most recurring ones:

#1 to ask to someone (to do something / something)

I asked to him to call you.
I’ll ask to James that question.

Notice that the same mistake seems to be frequent when using ‘tell’: I told to him to go away.

#2 ‘me too’ instead of ‘me neither’

A: I don’t like peas.
B: Me too neither

If the sentence you want to agree with is negative, you have to use ‘neither’. You could also say ‘I don’t either’ or “Neither do I’. Use ‘Me too’ (or ‘I do too’ or ‘So do I’) when agreeing with a positive statement.

#3 ‘since‘ instead of ‘for’

I’ve lived here since for five months.

Use ‘for’ with a period of time and since with a point in time: I’ve lived here since 2012.

#4 wrong auxiliary in short answers

A: Have you got a pen?
B: Yes, I do have.

When using a short answer, you have to use the same auxiliary you find in the question.

#5 ‘both‘ instead of ‘either’

A: Would you like a coffee or a cup of tea?
B: I’ll have both.either

Unless you want a coffee AND also a cup of tea, the right option here is ‘either’, meaning that you have no preference.

#6 improper use of the future tense in time clauses

I’ll do it as soon as Ill come back home

Time clauses are introduced by “as soon as”, “when”, “before”, “after” etc and you don’t use the future in such clauses to describe future activities.

#7 to be married with to someone 

Angelina Jolie is married with to Brad Pitt.

However, she married him in July.

Prepositions are always very difficult to get your head around. Other common mistakes: It depends from on him; I’m going at to the mountains at Christmas etc

#8 uncountable nouns treated as countable

The news are is on.
Can I ask you some informations?
I have to find a work (or I have to find a job)

Uncountable nouns should be followed by a singular verb and don’t have the plural.

#9 use of the present simple instead of the present perfect

I live ‘ve lived here for two years.
I know ‘ve known him since 2008.

When talking about an activity or state that started in the past and has continued up until now, remember to use the present perfect.

#10 use of cardinal number for dates

I’m leaving on May one (the) first

Another common mistake concerns the use of the word “like” in questions, I wrote a blog post about it that you can find here.

I hope you’ll find this post useful. Did you spot any of your mistakes? 🙂


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