Most Common Mistakes in English – Part 1
One of the most difficult things about learning English, is there are so many words with double meanings, words that are spelt the same but pronounced differently, and even many words that are pronounced the same but written differently… And this is just the start.
There are also many words that are commonly confused in terms of grammar and usage. But don’t worry, because that’s why we’re here, and today I’m going to give you a shortlist of some of the most common mistakes in English.
Let’s get into it.
The first one is:
Live AND live
What’s the difference? One is a verb and one is an adjective.
Verb: To live [ˈlɪv]
I would like to live in New York someday.
(Me gustaría vivir en Nueva York algún día)
Adjective: Live [ˈlaɪv]
He’s never heard live music before.
(Nunca antes había escuchado música en vivo)
Let’s take the next one:
Affect AND effect
The first one is a verb: To affect [əˈfɛkt]
He was deeply affected by what you said.
(Estaba profundamente afectado por lo que dijiste)
Whereas the second is a noun: An effect [ɪˈfɛkt]
Your words had a positive effect on me.
(Tus palabras tuvieron un efecto positivo en mí)
You can hear that these two words are very close in terms of pronunciation, and when speaking quickly, you’re probably not going to have any problems at all. You don’t need to think about it too much: they basically sound the same.
But… if we slow it down, there is a slight difference. Here it is one more time.
Less AND Fewer
Here you can follow a super simple rule.
Less [ˈlɛs] = uncountable / nouns in singular form
The man has less time today.
(El hombre tiene menos tiempo hoy)
Here we’re talking about time, and in English we think about time as being one thing- a singular noun.
Fewer [ˈfjuːər] = countable / nouns in plural form
The woman has fewer friends than me.
(La mujer tiene menos amigos que yo)
This time we’re talking about “friends” so we’re using “fewer.”
Another OR Other
I was asked about this one recently and found I really had to think hard to figure out the difference. Here’s what I concluded.
Another [əˈnʌðər] = One more of, and belongs to singular nouns.
Can I get another drink?
(¿Puedo tomar otro trago?, ¿Podrá traerme otro trago?, ¿Puedo pedirle otro trago?)
I have another brother who lives in New York.
(Tengo otro hermano que vive en Nueva York)
Other [ˈʌðər] = A different one and belongs to both singular and plural nouns
I’ve just spoken with my other sister.
(Acabo de hablar con mi otra hermana)
Can I try on the other shoes?
(¿Puedo probarme los otros zapatos?)
Who AND That
This is another commonly confused one but possibly one of the easiest rules to follow.
Who [ˈhuː] = people (think: who is…?)
I know a man who looks like you.
(Conozco a un hombre que se parece a ti)
That [ðət] = objects (Think: that is…)
I have a computer that keeps turning itself off.
(Tengo una computadora que sigue apángandose sola)
Finally, I want to give an example of two words that are spelt the same but pronounced differently.
Read AND Read
Both of these words are verbs, well, the same verb in two tenses.
Of course, we have:
To read [ˈriːd] – infinitive
I’m going to read a book.
(Voy a leer un libro)
Read – past tense.
Have you read your new book?
(¿Has leído tu nuevo libro?)
Okay, that was it for today.
Check back next week for more common mistakes, and if there are any words confusing you that you’d like to see in an article like this one, drop a comment below. We’d love to help.