6 common mistakes made by foreigners learning English

Lectura Niveles B2-C1 (8 min)

  1. What vs. How

There are two ways of asking about someone´s appearance. Even though the words look similar there is a small difference in meaning. When we ask about someone or something with this question: ¨ How does it look? ¨ we may receive a mere adjective as an answer BUT if we ask someone the same question but with ¨what¨ at the beginning, we may receive a more sophisticated answer.

REMEMBER

What does it look like?  CORRECT

How does it look?   CORRECT

How does it look like?   INCORRECT

  • Singular nouns ending in ¨S¨

In English, there are several nouns ending with a typical plural ending –s which usually makes us think that a noun is in plural form. Well, this is a trap. These words are in singular form. I have two infos for you. Good one and a bad one. The bad one is that you have to learn them by heart and the good one is that they´re not that numerous.

Below there are groups of these nouns:

NEWS – I heard bad NEWS yesterday.

Games – BILLARDS, BOWLS, CHESS

Proper nouns – e.g. BRUSSELS

Diseases – MEASLES

Studies and activities ending in –ICS –PHYSICS

Means

Species

Plurals consisting of two joined parts – BELLOWS

Pluralia tantum – THE MIDDLE AGES

WATCH OUT!

Money IS in my pocket.

The police ARE looking for a lost baby.

  • Home vs. house

A noun ¨HOME¨ we use when we´re talking about a place someone lives in. It carries a more emotional and personal meaning. Whereas the word ¨HOUSE¨ refers to a building.

Several examples

This HOUSE is on sale.

Today, I´m having a pijama party at my best friend´s HOUSE.

It doesn´t look perfect, but It is my HOME.

Make a house a home   –        Do you understand now this proverb?

  • There vs. Their vs. they´re

These words sound really similar and this is what makes them so complicated. But do not worry we´re going to explain you all the rules.

We use THERE to talk about a place which is not next to us. Look! Over THERE.

THEIR is a possessive pronoun and as we can see by its name, THEIR refers to possessions.

It´s THEIR car

THEY´RE is a short form of THEY ARE. THEY ARE swimming/ THEY´RE swimming

  • Who vs. Whom

A lot of people have a problem with differentiation between  WHO and  WHOM and the other way round. Sometimes we try to use THAT in place of  WHOM or WHO which is also incorrect.

Don´t worry! J It´s not that complicated. Try to remember this rule. WHO and WHOM  work the same as HE and HIM.

Whenever you´re wondering which form is correct ask yourself a question.

With WHOM Ana danced? à Ana danced with HIM. ———  We answer to this question, by an object pronoun HIM, this means that WHOM is correct. We can´t say: Ana danced with HE

WHO danced with Ana? à HE danced with Ana.  ———-  We answer to this question by a subject pronoun HE, so WHO is correct. It would be incorrect if we answered HIM danced with Ana.

  • Borrow  vs.  Lend

These words may be a little bit misleading because both of them means to get or receive something from someone with the intention of giving it back after a period of time. (Cambridge dictionary)

Although there is one simple rule.

You BORROW something FROM somebody.

You LEND something TO somebody

Try to remember these phrases.

I BORROWED you a book.

I LENT my pencil to Jess.

Natalia Dabkowska, practicante de Studio 3