4 Common Errors that Make You Sound Like a Non-Native in English!


I've taught a lot of English.

Especially to native Spanish speakers.

Some speak better English than others.

However, almost always these mistakes creep in like annoying little mosquitos.

Don't make these mistakes, my English learning friends!

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  1. I have vs. I am:

    The origin of this mistake is not difficult to discover. Yo tengo 13 años translates into I have 13 years. However, in English we say I am 13 years old. This mistake is common when saying I am hot, cold, thirsty, hungry and sleepy. The list goes on and on! Language almost never translates exactly, so instead of trying to translate in your mind, memorize these phrases! In this way, you create a separation between the two languages which is essential to fluency.

  2. Using “of” instead of apostrophe “s”: 

    Again it is not hard to imagine how this mistake occurs. In Spanish, one would say “la casa de mi padre” so a direct translation is “the house of my father.” However, the correct form is “my father’s house.” The apostrophe “s” is used in English to indicate possession. Avoid using the word “of” in relation to possession.

  3. Forgetting the subject of the sentence:

    You always need the subject in English. My students are tired of hearing me say this. In Spanish the subject is not necessary because each form of the verb is different. For example:

Yo Tengo, Tú tienes, Él/Ella tiene, Nosotros Tenemos, Vosotros Tenéis, Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas Tienen

In English the majority of the time, each subject has the same conjugation:

I have, you have, he/she has, we have, they have

We always use the subject in English, if not, we have no idea who or what you’re talking about. For example, if you want to say “You go to the supermarket every Sunday,” you can’t simply say “go to the supermarket every Sunday,” because we don’t know if the subject of the sentence is “I, you, we,” or “they.” However, if you say “you go to the supermarket every Sunday,” we know exactly who you are referring to.

  1. Incorrect plural nouns:

    In English we have a handful of plural nouns that don’t have an “s” at the end. Example include: homework, children, or women. There are more words like this, ask your English teacher for more examples, and never (I mean never) put an “s” at the end of these words.

Small errors like these make a world of difference. Correcting these simple mistakes in your English can change the way people perceive your English level. As one simple “the cat of my girlfriend” instead of “my girlfriend’s cat” can make you look immediately like you don’t know English. The good news is that they are fairly simple mistakes that can be easily corrected! If you go to an academy be tough on your teacher, and make sure they correct you every time you make a mistake! Politely reminding them is a good way to make sure they know you won’t take it personally and that you’re there to learn!

Happy learning!