Common Mistakes Talk

May 27, 2016 | Author: Dave Skype English Lessons | Category: Types, School Work
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Typical mistakes when speaking English. These are just notes for a talk, but may be useful to students and teachers...


Typical mistakes: Pitfalls that must be avoided

NATIVE SPEAKER MISTAKES (List mistakes, and ask if audience can see them)

1) I wouldn’t of done that (wouldn’t have) 2) Imagine there’s no countries (there are…countries) 3) Me and my brother (My brother and I) 4) There are less people in the audience than I expected (fewer) 5) She looked in her bag and realised her wallet was stolen (had been stolen) 6) He don’t know nothing (doesn’t know anything) Many more, but let’s focus on the Russians now. You’ll see that some of them are similar TYPICAL RUSSIAN MISTAKES with GRAMMAR (later, some are not even mistakes, but just unnatural speech or wrong usually in context) 1) I should have written an essay for my teacher last week. I finished it on Monday. (had to = obligation. Shouldn’t have = past criticism) 2) How to say ‘____’ in English? What means ‘____’? (How do I… What does) 3) How’s it called? How do you think? (What’s…) 4) She suggested me to go to the cinema. (suggested going) 5) We hadn’t internet. (remember didn’t have ‘the’ internet  ) 6) He had got a toy train for Christmas. (have got is only used very colloquially in past) 7) When I will arrive, I’ll call you. (First conditional. ‘If I would’ also a problem. Though seen in old novels) 8) The concert is free and so you shouldn’t pay. (don’t have to /

needn’t / don’t need to) 9) I think yes. I think no. I hope yes. I hope no. (I think so, don’t think so, hope so, hope not) 10) My plans after the university were to find a good job. (no article in schools/university/hospital if we mean institution) 11) He asked me what was he wearing. (he was) 12) My parents don’t let me to stay out late.(let me stay) 13) When I stopped to smoke, I couldn’t sleep. (stopped smoking) 14) Give me a pen, please! (Can I have) 15) Yesterday, it was a meeting on the top floor of the building. (There was = fact, what happened. It was = description. It was cold. It was a nice hotel)

Grammar Focus SAY AND TELL, SPEAK and TALK. (say and tell are reporting verbs. This is why they are tough. Fortunately, practising them is quite easy in retells.) He told that he wouldn’t come (said that..) He said me that his friend would go instead (told me) I said about my promotion to my Mum. (Told my mum about) She said to them to stand up. (told..FOR ALL INSTRUCTIONS. ) She spoke that she wanted to find a car park (said) He told about his experiences to his friend (told his friend about) The Chinese told about a price of $40 (spoke, talked = more 2 way) When I came into the class, everyone was speaking. (Talking for 2 way chat) He said the truth. (tell – lie, truth, story, joke) He didn’t tell one word. (say a word, say a sentence) TENSES (regular practice necessary.

I thought that I will come on Saturday (will -would reported speech) A body was found: the victim was strangled. (had been strangled. Practise narrative tenses tenses with retells. Make it clear that it is only when narrating real/fictional events from past that had +3rd is used. Point out that present perfect signals become past perfect signals in the narrative) I work here 10 years. (remember signal words. ‘For’ should be included here, and it will help the learner recognise for/since signal words. Though natives OFTEN omit ‘for’ in their speech! Practise signals with pictures asking how long? Has he already? Etc… Another good game is ‘the lying game’ where you ask your partner ‘have you ever? And move onto when/where why? In past simple. Works wonderfully) (Did you see this film? ALSO MISTAKE!) This year they sell less than 50% of their stock. (more signals. This year = have sold) There was an exhibition last year. The curators were preparing for the exhibition for 5 years. (past perfect signal = for. Had been preparing) When we have been living in Ireland, we got married. (were living, past cont.) Roy wasn’t understanding him. (STATE verbs. Very important. Teach from beginning to avoid misunderstandings!)

Likes/dislikes adore, love, like, don't mind, dislike, hate, loathe, approve, disapprove, prefer Possession have, own, possess, belong, owe Senses be, see, hear, seem, appear, smell, feel, sound Thinking/the mind know, understand, believe, think, agree, disagree, suppose, suspect, doubt Describing things weigh, contain, consist, measure, cost, be Wants want, need, fancy, desire, wish

I (very very) often catch myself saying ‘I’m thinking that is a good idea’ when I speak to my family. I don’t know where it’s come from but I’m pretty sure it’s wrong. Think (opinion) = state verb. Think about (plan) = dynamic Active and dynamic (same meaning) = live, work, feel Active and dynamic (different meanings) = have, see, think CONDITIONALS If you will go with me, then I’ll do it. (If you go…) If I would be in your shoes, I wouldn’t go. (If I were or was) Unless you don’t study hard, you won’t pass the exam. (Unless you study…) If I didn’t steal the money, the police wouldn’t arrest me and I wouldn’t be in prison. (hadn’t stolen, wouldn’t have arrested, wouldn’t be) QUESTIONS I don’t know how does it work (no auxiliary verbs, indirect. how it works) I don’t know it works or not (IF it works. for reported yes/no questions) He asked me what was he wearing (indirect. he was) What for are they doing this? (preps at end. What are they doing this for?) GERUNDS / INFINITIVES / REPORTING VERBS She recommended me to go to the cinema (You’re gonna hate me for this. Acceptable in Oxford! But NOT where I live  I hear it rarely here, so even though it’s technically NOT a mistake, it often sounds like one cos it’s not a common form. I think recommend works mostly the same as suggest. When it is used in this form, then it sounds formal, and a bit archaic TO ME. But

I have read others saying it sounds uneducated!) They suggested me a job (offer / suggest distinction. Offer = help. Suggest = plan. Offered me a job) He suggested to take my suitcase. (and again…offered to take) He offered to watch a film (and again…suggested watching) He refused that he was the murderer. (denied that) He got used to drive on the other side (get used to driving) He didn’t want that I would come (he didn’t want me to come) I look forward to hear from you (to + gerund in phrasal verbs. To hearing) I became to hit him (started hitting!!!) I spent 3 weeks to teach him online (teaching) COUNTABILITY He spends much time preparing for exams (a lot of + . much / many as subject OK in +) The news are good (news is. always singular but looks plural. Like ‘Politics’) I owed him £20 and he wanted them immediately (money is always ‘it’) The police is too violent (Police are. Looks singular but always plural) He has long hairs (long hair. This is a very common error, but repetition will sort it out) He gave her an advice (some advice/no article) The police were looking for an evidence of a break in (some evidence/no article) MODALS When I was a pupil, I should wear a uniform (had to. should / have to mix up) The concert is free and so you shouldn’t pay (don’t have to. shouldn’t / don’t have to) It’s a Sunday and so I mustn’t work (don’t have to / mustn’t confusion)

PASSIVE I’m agree (agree is used actively in our language. ‘To be in agreement’ also OK) She born a daughter (She had a daughter. She gave birth to a girl) ADVERBS They didn’t speak English good enough (well) I was absolutely tired/cold/hungry/dirty (weak/strong adj) -Where do you last remember having your phone? -I exactly had it in the restaurant, because I called my Mum (use definitely or past modal for past speculations. NOT exactly) I fully enjoyed myself (thoroughly. Adverb collocations. Use adverbs as often as you can, in correct collocations, to learn them thoroughly, and be fully informed!)


It was the greatest event of the last year I pick my children up from the school at half eight (University / school / hospital / prison ) ALSO, remember when something new is introduced we should use ‘a’ and not ‘the’

TYPICAL RUSSIAN MISTAKES with VOCABULARY 1) He presented himself as Peter. (introduce) 2) Today we are to write a test. (we’re going to have/take/do a test Acceptable in Canada though. 2 points here. 1 formality. 2. Write a test not OK)

3) Which variant is correct? We watched the American variant of this show (Ask yourself. Have you ever heard a native use this word? Only in Science and Maths. Maybe ‘a variant spelling’. Option and Version are far less formal) 4) My Granny presented me with a new watch. (gave..) 5) This man isn’t very accurate. (maybe…but do you mean careful, or well dressed? Usually accurate + thing. Accurate information, accurate weapons, wildly inaccurate guesses) 6) One more moment I’d like to discuss. (point, issue, thing, question) 7) When he was walking to work he fell down. (fell over) 8) On my happy birthday, I had a party. (I’m sure it was happy, but this sounds odd!) 9) From the one hand… (On the one…) 10) How are you? I’m very fine / I’m normal (very fine? Normal like ordinary?) 11) The arctic fox has small possibility to find food in his habitat (little opportunity) 12) The company became bankrupt (went!....go crazy/mad/insane too, sounds much better) 13) It could influence on him (have an influence on, it could influence him. No prep) 14) He took the piece of paper in his pocket. (put in, take out ALSO, put on/ take off, and put up/take down) 15) He could feel the perfume she had left on her chair (smell) VOCABULARY MISTAKES COLLOCATIONS We decided the problem (solve) The company became bankrupt (go bankrupt) He has big experience in this industry (vast, a great deal of, a lot of, plenty of) It’s a big pleasure (great/real/huge) The picture was written in the 19th century (painted, drawn

On the one side (hand) Make (homework/housework/office work) (a lot of problems with do and make. I recommend making a note of any recurring mistakes, and practising them at the end of each lesson) I had a bad mood (I was in a bad mood) I saw a dream (have + nightmare too. And remember have is often stative) He used his instruments to fix the shelf (tools) She started to feel a very strong hurt in her leg (sharp/excrutiating/intense/severe pain) The exchange course has changed (rate) (gone up, gone down, increased, risen, dropped, decreased, fallen, plummeted, skyrocketed, ) It made an effect on me (had an effect, had an influence, made/had an impact) I watched the painting in the gallery (watch / look at / see) He made a photo (took) PHRASAL VERBS He put off his hat (took off) The boy was grown up by his Grandmother (bring s.o up = trans verb. Grow up = intransitive. So, was brought up) The little seed grew up and finally became a tree (grow = physical growth. Grow up = become an adult) They needed to find out the killer (Sometimes students try and use this too often. FIND = locate. Find out = discover information) I have met this word in the dictionary (come across, looked up) The coffee is finished (run out of) After 3 years their marriage broke off (broke down. Compare. They decided to break up. Their marriage broke down. They broke off their marriage/engagement/relationship) PREPOSITIONS

He’s good in solving problems. (bad at too…and better and worse. Good at + activity. Good with + noun. E.g She’s good with children. He’s good with computers) I went to an excursion / trip / holiday (also go on a date.) In the beginning of the show (In the beginning, In the end, At the end of ___. At the beginning of ___) We arrived to the house (at) In the 2nd of December (ON + day. Often need repeating – preps of time. Easy to repeat) He gave me a reply on my questions ( I replied to his letter) She shouted on Moss (at) Take care about (of) (look after, take care of) We will raise prices for at least 20% (raise/increase/put up…. by 20%) It could influence on him (OOPS! Already done!) Don’t pay attention on it (pay attention to) I got a reply on my question (OOPS! Hopefully easier the second time round) He threw a stone to me, violently (to = nice, at = nasty)


MORE MIX UPS (test regularly!! Volley ball is funny (Skiing is fun/That TV show is funny) Maybe it costs watching Twin peaks (cost = every day/worth = expensive things, and experiences etc..) I’ve been stressed last time (Last time / recently) This man isn’t very accurate (Accurate only for things e.g His calculations are accurate / careful, smart, well dressed) Wait a minute! I’ll take my book (get = receive AND fetch / take = bring) And Chelsea started to win Manchester United (win / beat) This is so great opportunity! (so/such) Lots of countries, as Germany or France, are taking part (like /

as) He is the same age like me (as / like) I hope they finish it until Christmas (before = 1 action took place before other / until = continual process or state) Only 3 pieces of cake stayed on the plate (REMAIN/be left. Stay= in a hotel. Or when a person chooses to stay in a position. Cakes don’t choose so we say be left or remain) I stood in the traffic jam for 3 hours (We sit in traffic! Not stand) He was staying near the window (USUALLY stand NOT stay! Maybe ‘stay’ if he is avoiding you, and staying near the window) The level of inflation has been raising for the last few years (/ rise / increase / go up) ALSO ( decrease, go down, fall) Prices are growing (go up / rising / increasing / BY ) They need to grow salaries (increase, raise BY) I spent near 6 hours doing this (near / nearly) The school territory is very large (territory for animals and nature. Maybe geographical region/ premises or grounds for buildings) He found a notice from his Father (note = message / notice = sign. To note = make/take a (mental) note. Notice = become aware of) I ended Sherlock (The film ended at 15:00 = intransitive He ended their relationship. OK Only transitive with some nouns / I finished the book) The square of the flat was 40m2 (area / square) He listened her voice in the woods (hear/listen) My sister learned me to swim (teach / learn)

Miscellaneous He’ll be in hospital during 3 days. (for. During + noun, but NOT day) The most part of the class agreed with me. (majority) 610 millions light years is the distance to the nearest galaxy

(million) I feel myself badly (2 mistakes, badly and myself. I feel bad is correct) I behaved myself rather badly at the party (I behaved rather badly at the party. Possible to use with students in expressions like ‘behave yourselves!’) They have another pronunciation (a different…) On my own / by myself + alone / lonely mix up I’ll get in touch in the close time (in the near future)

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