Each language hides difficulties, especially when it is not our mother tongue. In fact, there are some grammatical rules that simply need to be memorized and applied without appealing to our logical abilities. At other times, we are faced with an exception to the rule that we simply did not know. Or we might be tempted to translate from our own language, but the syntactic rules could be completely different. What advice can we give you to help you avoid serious errors?
The answer may also seem pretty obvious, but the truth is that studying grammar well is the only way to speak correctly. Even practice can help you because using a language regularly helps you to learn the rules and structures in a natural and almost inadvertent way. This is a little like what happens to children when they learn to speak.
Now, there are some very common mistakes that are good to know to simplify the learning process and to immediately speak correctly. We present the 10 most common errors that you may be committing without knowing it.
1. Everybody are happy.
The word everybody in some languages would be translated as a plural. This could lead to a mistake by pushing us towards using the plural verb. Actually, everybody (along with somebody, nobody, and anybody) is a singular noun and, as such, requires the singular verb.
Is everybody happy to come?
2. I’ll explain you the problem.
In this sentence, there are two complements, the direct object the problem and the indirect object you. In English, the two complements must be clearly distinguished by introducing the personal pronoun you with the preposition to. In addition, the most correct form requires that the direct object the problem come immediately after the verb.
Mary is not attending the meeting tomorrow. I’ll explain the problem to you.
3. If I will see Judy later, I’ll give her the news.
This time the error does not lie in the double object, which in this case does not require the preposition to, but rather in the conditional subordinate clause, that is, what is introduced by the particle if. This sentence is a type 1 conditional and, therefore, expresses a possible condition with its likely consequence. The if clause in type 1 conditionals is always in the simple present tense while the main clause requires the simple future tense.
If I see Judy later, I’ll give her the news.
4. Do you want that I make dinner?
In English, the pronoun that is never used after the verb want. The correct construction requires the verb in the infinitive with the to after want. This rule applies to many other verbs that indicate a request, a desire, and an order such as order, tell, invite, persuade, ask, prefer, and intend.
Do you want me to make dinner?
I ask you not to talk about the issue with Julia.
5. I am thinking to buy a new house.
Unlike the construction we have just seen above, the verb to think does not require the infinitive. So, when the verb to think appears in a sentence, you have to use the construction about + verb + -ing or of + verb + -ing.
I am thinking of buying a new house.
I am thinking about buying a new house.
6. I have the possibility to visit New York next year.
After the verb to have, the noun opportunity is used to indicate possibilities in English. The word possibility is generally used after the expression “There is…”.
I have the opportunity to visit New York next year.
There is a possibility that I may visit New York next year.
7. She asked me where do I live.
As you know, in the interrogative form we use the auxiliary do/does/did. But this does not happen in the case of the reported speech, which does not require the use of the auxiliary.
She asked me where I live.
8. I visited a castle with my five-years-old niece.
Here is a small fact that you should keep in mind. We may have learned in school that when we indicate someone’s age, the word year is plural, but this only applies when the age is introduced by the verb to be. When the age is expressed in the form of an adjective and, therefore, before the noun to which it refers, the word year is always in the singular.
I visited a castle with my five-year-old niece.
My niece is five years old.
9. My workplace is near to the gym.
Near is a synonym of close to, but it does not require the use of to.
My office is near the gym.
My office is close to the gym.
10. I like very much pizza.
The adverb much never goes between the verb and the object but rather always goes at the end. This is an expression that is not used much in oral discourse, so “a lot” or “really” would be better.
I like pizza very much.
I really like pizza.
I like pizza a lot.
In order not to make mistakes, the ideal method is to learn the rules, accompanying them with constant practice of your listening and speaking skills. This is exactly what the ABA English method offers thanks to learning units that combine oral comprehension and conversation exercises based on the watching of short films. Why don’t you try it now?