Advanced Mistakes (ii)

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. Even advanced students of English make mistakes. Swan (2005) has listed a number of them.

“Prices are surely rising fast.” = Prices are certainly rising fast.
(573.1) Surely does not usually mean the same as certainly. We use certainly when we simply tell people that something is true. We use surely mostly to ask for people’s agreement: to persuade something must be true, or that there are good reasons for believing it.

“I have big respect for her ideas.” = I have great respect for her ideas.
(106.3) Great is common with abstract nouns – the names of things you cannot see, touch etc.

“I don’t like nowadays fashions.” = I don’t like today’s / modern fashions.
(388) Nowadays cannot be used as an adjective.

“She passed her exam, what surprised everybody.” = She passed her exam, which surprised everybody.
(494.9/497.2) Which can refer not only to a noun, but also to the whole of a previous clause. Note that what cannot be used in this way.

“I’ve good knowledge of German.” = I’ve a good knowledge of German.
(149.4) With certain uncountable nouns – especially nouns referring to human emotions and mental activity – we often use a/an when we are limiting their meaning in some way.

“Finally! Where have you been?” = At last! Where have you been?
(204.2) At last can be used as an exclamation. (Finally cannot be used in this way.)

“I’ll be home since three o’clock.” = I’ll be home from three o’clock.
(208.4) From and since give the starting point of actions, events or states: they say when things begin or began. We use since (with a perfect tense) especially when we measure duration from a starting point up to the present, or up to a past time that we are talking about. From is used in other cases.

“We waited one and a half hour.” = We waited one and a half hours.
(231.5) The expression one and a half is plural.

“It’s time they go home.” = It’s time they went home.
(306.2) It’s time can also be followed by a subject with a past tense verb. The meaning is present.

See other: Notes On English Grammar

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