Intermediate Mistakes (iii)


Source: Swan. M. 2005. Practical English Usage Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press (2011).

Practical English Usage lists over a hundred common mistakes in the English language. Listed below are a number of mistakes that intermediate students of English often make according to Swan (2005).

“Most of people agree with me.” = Most people agree with me.
(356.1-2) Most can mean ‘the majority of’. We do not use the before most with this meaning. We do not generally use of after most when there is no other determiner (e.g. article or possessive). Before determiners (e.g. a, the, my, this) and pronouns, we use most of.

“I looked at me in the mirror.” = I looked at myself in the mirror.
(493.2) A common use of reflexive pronouns is to talk about actions where the subject and object are the same person.

“We waited during six hours.” = We waited for six hours.
(167) During is used to say when something happens; for is used to say how long it lasts.

“I like eating chocolate milk.” = I like eating milk chocolate.
(385.1) Many common ideas in English are expressed by noun + noun compounds. In this structure, the first noun modifies or describes the second, a little like an adjective. Compare: milk chocolate (a kind of chocolate), chocolate milk (a kind of milk).

“Come here and look at that paper.” = Come here and a look at this paper.
(589) We use this/these for people and things which are close to the speaker. We use that/those for people and things which are more distant from the speaker, or not present.

“We go there every Saturdays.” = We go there every Saturday.
(193.1/6) Every is a determiner. We normally use it before a singular noun. If the noun is a subject, its verb is also singular. Every is used before a plural noun in expressions that refer to intervals.

“Which is the biggest city of the world?” = Which is the biggest city in the world?
(139.7) After superlatives, we do not usually use of with a singular word referring to a place or group. But of can be used before plurals, and before lot.

“I’m thinking to change my job.” = I’m thinking of changing my job.
(588.3) After think, -ing forms can be used, infinitives are not usually possible unless there is an object. However, think + infinitive can be used when we talk about remembering to do something, or having the good sense to do something.

“Can you give me an information?” = Can you give me some information?
(148.3) Information is an uncountable noun. (62.1) We put no article with a plural or uncountable noun. (67.2) We prefer some/any when we are thinking about limited but rather indefinite numbers or quantities – when we don’t know, care or say exactly how much/many.

See other: Notes On English Grammar

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