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Mistakes are our best teacher: my list of top 8 mistakes English learners make

Mistakes are our best teacher: my list of top 8 mistakes English learners make

Making mistakes is a normal part of any educational process. It's more than ok, I would even say it is great! We learn something new and then have better chances to  memorise it when correcting our mistakes.

Based on the most common mistakes my students make (of shall i say - made!), I created this list.

Go through it and check yourself. Let’s start!


Last time

Some learners use this phrase when they try to describe something which happened not long time ago , but last time actually describes one most recent event, e.g. : last year, this is the last time I did it and so on.

If you want to tell about some recent events, you need to use recently or lately.

I have been working a lot recently.


In the other hand

(I've also come across such versions as   in the other side, on another hand

ESL learners often  use this phrase instead of the set expression  On the other hand, which is a part of the phrase On the one hand, on the other hand which is used when we want two discuss two conrastistig facts or opposite ways of thinking.

You can’t change anything in this prase! It’s an idiom and the only way to learn idioms is to memorise them (and then practice).

Here is an example for you:

I like dogs, but on the other hand they require too much attention.


Another with plural nouns

Another can ONLY be used with singular countable nouns. That’s it. Whereas if you have in your sentence plural nouns, you have to use other: Other people.

Imagine that the word another is made up of two words: indefinite article an, which only goes with singular countable nouns, and the word other. And these two make the word another.

I have had one ice-cream but I still want another one .


Meet a new word / phrase / expression, etc.

My students sometimes tell me something like:

Oh, I met a new word

And it is usually followed with my reply:

How cool! Did you meet in the street or somewhere else?

Do you want to know why I ask this? Well, it is quite simple. In English the verb to meet is used with people: to meet someone. But with things we have to use the phrasal verb to come across.

So next time you read something and see interesting new words, you should say:

I came across many new words in this text .


Haven’t something

Occasionally ESL learners say things like I haven’t time.

Just no. Don’t say it this way. You should either say

I don’t have (time), or I haven’t got time.

The only phrase where you still can use haven’t is haven’t  a clue :

I haven’t a clue - I have no idea.


Can to, should to, must to, will to

After the verbs will, should, must, can you can’t use the preposition to:

I will come

I must finish it today


And here is a couple of example of mistakes in pronunciation


Sometimes I think that this words suffers the most. I can’t even tell you how often I hear students’ attempts to pronounce a sound which, in their opinion, is represented with the letter W. Don’t do it. Look at the transcription:

British English [ˈɑːnsə(r) ]

American English [ˈænsər ]


Fiancé & Fiancée

When ESL learners see these words, more often than not they will do their best trying to think  of the way to say them differently. I have a surprise for you! Even though they mean slightly different things (of shall i say, genders), they are pronounced in the same way:

British English  [fiˈɒnseɪ]

American English [fiˈɑːnˌse]


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