Uploaded by erhan.kahraman

1. Common language issues

Common mistakes
Some irregular verb forms
(among many others)
• to catch, caught, have caught
• to teach, taught, have taught
• to bring, brought, have brought
• to fight, fought, have fought
• to pay, paid, have paid
• to flow, flowed, have flowed
• to fly, flew, have flown
• to flee, fled, have fled
Verb conjugation
• Primarily a problem in complex sentences with relative or
subordinate clauses:
Problems which are caused by negligence has
always been part of the system.
• The verb above doesn‘t agree with the subject but with
the noun in the relative clause.
Confusing verbs: lie vs. lay
• to lie, lay, have lain
Intransitive: The dog lay asleep for hours on the carpet.
• to lay, laid, have laid
Transitive: I‘ve already laid out all the materials you need
on the desk.
say vs. tell
• No indirect object is necessary with say:
Please say what you mean.
• Except for a few expressions (tell the truth/a lie, tell a story/
joke), tell takes an indirect object:
Please tell me what you mean.
• Tell is only used to instruct or inform:
She said, “what a great idea!” NOT She told us,.......
• Discuss takes a direct object, it is never followed by the
preposition about and is not used as a simple synonym for
talk about:
The panel at the academic conference rigorously
discussed the historical ramifications of Luther‘s attempt
to reform the Catholic Church. (NOT ...rigorously
discussed about the historical ramifications...)
She talked at length about her cousin‘s wedding. (NOT
She discussed at length about her cousin‘s wedding.)
wind vs. wound
• to wind, wound, have wound
past tense/participle pronounced /waʊnd/
• to wound, wounded, have wounded
infinitive/present tense pronounced /wuːnd/
lose vs. loose
• The first of these is a verb: to lose, lost, have lost
These forms are pronounced: /luːz/, /lɒst/ or /lɑːst/
He‘s been losing his homework a lot lately. (NOT He’s
been loosing……)
• The second is an adjective and is pronounced /luːs/
If he thinks I‘m going to do his work for him, he‘s got a
screw loose.
The verb to miss
• Miss generally expresses three meanings in English:
1. Failing to contact somebody/something or being late for
somebody/something: We had better hurry up or we’ll miss the train.
2. Experiencing a sense of loss because one is no longer with
somebody or no longer has something: He’s not very happy here on
campus because he misses his friends in his hometown.
3. To notice the absence of: Since she ran away from home in the
morning, nobody missed her for hours.
• Miss is not used to indicate a simple lack of something: I miss my
notebook - Has anyone seen it?
Use of will and would in if-clauses
and other subordinate clauses
Ordinarily, will and would are not used in if-clauses or other
subordinate clauses expressing time or other conditional
If I knew her name, I would tell you. (NOT If I would know....)
I‘ll get his birthday present this weekend if I make it
downtown. (NOT ....if I will make it.....)
Unless you start working hard, you won‘t pass the course .
(NOT Unless you will start working....)
bath vs. bathe + breath vs.
• Note that bath and breath are nouns and end with a
voiceless final obstruent: /bɑːθ/ or /bæθ/, /breθ/
Bathe and breathe are verbs and end with a voiced final
obstruent: /beɪð/, /briːð/
win vs. gain
• In English, win is not used to express the sense of
obtaining something wanted or needed through effort:
The journalists gained access to secret information.
(NOT ...won access....)
I gained the impression that the matter had been settled.
(NOT .....won the impression....)
• Be sure to properly use apostrophes when deriving
contractions from verb forms:
Don‘t come on my account. (NOT Dont come....)
Why won‘t he just give me a call? (NOT Why wont...)
I‘d go if I had a good reason. (NOT Id go...)
Avoid common mistakes with
• they‘re vs. their (possessive pronoun) vs. there (adverb of place, etc.)
• it‘s vs. its (posssessive pronoun)
• who‘s vs. whose (relative pronoun)
• Apostrophes indicate contraction or possession; please refrain from random use:
If he gets‘ a good grade.....
Since she‘s prone to motion sickness, she tries to avoid riding in cars‘.
• Please DO use them to indicate possession:
Was this your sister‘s idea? (NOT .....your sisters idea.)
Teachers‘ salaries have remained stagnant for years. (NOT Teachers salaries...)
Overusing the do-auxiliary
• The do-auxiliary is only used in questions, negatives, for emphasis and in structures
using inversion:
Do you go skiing very often in the winter?
No, I don‘t go very often.
She thinks that I don‘t, but I do love her.
At no time did she lose her nerve.
• Please refrain from randomly using it in cases where none of the aforementioned
situations apply:
Most Hollywood films do have a happy ending.
Many of our students do take too many classes every semester.
Such as/like vs. for example
Such as, like and for example are used in similar cases, but
please note that a main clause has to follow for example:
On our trip we saw a lot of old historical buildings, like/such
as churches, castles, mansions and warehouses.
(NOT ....buildings, for example churches...)
On our trip we saw a lot of old historical buildings; for
example, we visited churches, castles, mansions and
In addition....
• Avoid adding the superfluous phrase to that when using
in addition to enumerate additional points:
She keeps showing up late and then does her best to
avoid getting any work done. In addition, she is
unfriendly to her co-workers. (NOT In addition to that, she
so vs. thus
• Note that in similar cases where a consequence of an
event or action is enumerated, so cannot begin a
The weather was bad today; so/thus we didn‘t go
The weather was bad today. Thus, we didn‘t go outside.
(NOT So, we didn’t go......)
Overuse of so-called
• Remember that so-called is usually used to refer to
something falsely or improperly named, but not neutrally
to what something is called:
Don‘t tell me you‘re reading those horrible books! That
so-called writer couldn’t properly string together two
sentences to save his life!
In my analysis of the so-called essay by George