6 Most Common Mistakes in English as a Second Language (ESL)

Too many mistakes in English as a Second Language? Here are easy and quick  tips to avoid common errors in English adjectives, articles, nouns, prepositions, subjects, and verbs.
Too many mistakes in English as a Second Language? Here are easy and quick tips to avoid common errors in English adjectives, articles, nouns, prepositions, subjects, and verbs. | Source

Non-native users of English as a Second Language almost always struggle with all aspects of English – speaking, reading, writing, and listening.

Many also commit errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

This is because there are aspects of English as a Second Language that make it very confusing and utterly difficult for non-native English learners.

Some of these aspects that have become the sources of the most common mistakes in English as a Second Language include:

1. Wrong Ordering of Adjectives in a Sentence

2. Incorrect Usage and Missing Articles

3. Mistakes in Count and Non-Count Nouns

4. Mistakes in Prepositions

5. Redundant Subjects

6. Mistakes in Verb Tenses and Forms

Below is a discussion of the most common errors in English as a Second Language and suggestions on how to fix them easily and quickly.

1. Wrong Ordering of Adjectives in an English Sentence

In their study of English, English as a Second Language students learn that several adjectives can be used to describe a subject in a single sentence.

In this case, English as a Second Language users must be very careful in placing the adjectives in correct order in the sentence.

This is because there is such thing as wrong ordering of adjectives.

To be guided, people trying to learn English as a Second Language well must remember the accepted order of adjectives.

Correct Order of Adjectives in an English Sentence

1. Articles = a, an, the

2. Judgment = magnificent, plain, impressive, dull

3. Size = enormous, minute, humongous, tiny

4. Shape = octagonal, elongated, triangular, short

5. Age = old, outdated, modern, current

6. Color = olive green, mustard, brownish, off-white

7. Nationality = Filipino, Spanish, Russian, Chinese

8. Material = concrete, wooden, watery, volcanic

Examples:

Wrong: Have you bought the blue Chinese antique vase?

Right: Have you bought the antique blue Chinese vase?

2. Incorrect or Missing Articles in an English Sentence

As simple as they look, articles are actually sources of many mistakes of English as a Second Language learners.

This is because many learners of English as a Second Language are unaware that there are rules to follow when deciding which article is most appropriate to use in an English sentence.

Rules for Choosing the Correct Articles in an English Sentence

  • A, An = used for a non-specific, singular, count noun

a dog, a song, an elephant, an announcement

  • The = used for specific, singular or plural nouns

the champion dog, the award-winning song, the largest elephant, the final announcement

  • Note that some non-count nouns require no articles at all

Example:

Wrong: I saw rainbow after the rain.

Right: I saw a rainbow after the rain.

3. Wrong Count and Non-Count Nouns in an English Sentence

Some students of English as a Second Language frequently commit mistakes when forming the plural forms of English nouns.

It could be because these English as a Second Language users are confused about count and non-count nouns.

Count and Non-Count Nouns in English

  • Count Nouns = nouns that can be counted and transformed into plurals

one grandchild, five grandchildren, only child, several children

  • Non-count Nouns = nouns that cannot be or very difficult to count

beach sand, intelligence, hope, learning

Example:

Wrong: There is no allotted budget for brand-new office equipments.

Right: There is no allotted budget for brand-new office equipment.

4. Incorrect Prepositions Used in an English Sentence

Many people learning and speaking English as a Second Language commonly commit mistakes in prepositions.

This could be due to the fact that there are so many prepositions that English as a Second Language students must keep in mind.

To avoid prepositional mistakes, it would be best for learners of English as a Second Language to learn more and more English expressions that make use of correct prepositions.

Example:

Wrong: On January each year, Chinese people celebrate the Spring Festival.

Right: In January each year, Chinese people celebrate the Spring Festival.

5. Repeating Subject in an English Sentence

Many users of English as a Second Language tend to repeat the subject in a sentence.

These English as a Second Language users commit this mistake by using a noun and its pronoun in the same sentence.

Example:

Wrong: My homecountry it is very beautiful.

Right: My homecountry is very beautiful.

6. Erroneous Verb Tenses and Forms in an English Sentence

Many learners of English as a Second Language tend to commit many errors in verbs.

For one, many English as a Second Language learners commit mistakes in verb tenses.

To avoid these mistakes, they must think about which tense of the verb – past, present, future, etc. – would be most appropriate in a sentence.

Example:

Wrong:Last week, I go to the hot springs resort and eat seaweeds.

Right:Last week, I went to a hot springs resort and ate seaweed.

Moreover, many English as a Second Language users use verbs ending in –ing in the wrong way. They also use infinitives – to + base form of the verb – in improper ways.

Example:

Wrong:We enjoy to swim in the river near our hometown.

Right:We enjoy swimming in the river near our hometown.

Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

Common Mistakes in the English Language

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Comments 22 comments

Harishprasad profile image

Harishprasad 2 years ago from India

Kerlynb, this stuff is so important that everybody who is sincere toward learning the English language can improve his writing to a great extent. You have created a wonderful hub and you are such a great teacher of the English language. Really enjoyed myself reading it and learned a lot also. Thank you very much.


Dr Zaheer Ahmad 3 years ago

I read it and found it very useful for my specialization and research

dear madam I have a question being a researcher how can I give the

refrences for such artilces that have been published online. I am getting benefit from this artilces in my research in contrast with Arabic language

you mentioned really made mistakes as English is also my second language.


bamuscarella profile image

bamuscarella 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY

As previous commenters have mentioned, the errors in grammar usually result from a student's translation of text from their native language into English. English-speakers make the same mistakes when translating into another language. Great hub! Thanks for sharing. :)


oldhorse profile image

oldhorse 4 years ago

I think the kinds of mistakes an individual makes depend on the features of their native language. For example, Chinese puts adjectives before nouns. So, Chinese people don't make that mistake, but have a lot of trouble with articles and tense, because Chinese doesn't really have those features. These two are both on your list, but the confusion Chinese people sometimes have over "he" and "she" is not. This comes from the fact that spoken Chinese doesn't have gender specific pronouns.


thecrazzykylex profile image

thecrazzykylex 4 years ago from Incredible India!

English is not that easy, but loved how simple you made it sound! Useful, voted up and appreciated!


thesingernurse profile image

thesingernurse 4 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

Great and useful hub my friend. Speaking and writing in English is always a challenge for non-native speakers like us. Bookmarked this hub and voted up! :)


SeanSPaul profile image

SeanSPaul 4 years ago from London

Good Hub! I have a lot of Spanish friends and some of them make the mistakes you wrote in the article.


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

That's really great ..These are really common mistakes ..Thanks for pointing out


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@shampa sadhya Thank you for visiting my hub. I'm glad you found it useful. I also like the English language. It helps me speak with a lot of people from all over the world, even from India! Fascinating, right? I wouldn't be able to do this if I could speak only my mother tongue :)


shampa sadhya profile image

shampa sadhya 5 years ago from NEW DELHI, INDIA

Well thought and well written hub. I am an Indian and very much fond of English language. Some errors are very common in English language and you have pointed it out very rightly. Keep it up! Voted up and Useful.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@Susci You're very much welcome :)


Susci 5 years ago

lol. I think I'm guilty.lol. Anyway,thanks for reminding me of he errors in grammar. =)


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@GoingOnline OMG, so you're on your way to being a polyglot! Congratulations! Argh, I envy you. You know Spanish and English. Would like to learn Spanish too. And Mandarin. And French. LOL! :D


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@Kathleen Cochran Thank you for the feedback. Really appreciate a comment from a native English speaker and an experienced English tutor and teacher such as yourself. Thanks! :)


GoingOnline profile image

GoingOnline 5 years ago

hahaha very good hub, I am guilty of at least half of those! My first language is Spanish, so my English will always have a clear accent :) Lots of reading and learning to "think" in English helps I think.

I'm now on my way to learn Swedish. As if things weren't confusing enough language wise :)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I'm not sure I knew rule #1 myself. And I'm a native English speaker, an ESL teacher and a professional writer (newspapers). You are exactly right in saying practices in your native tongue will trip you up when speaking English. I've taught German speakers, Arab speakers and Philipine speakers, and each language has its own "tells". Interesting.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@Man from Modesto So you're a polyglot?! OK, now I'm envying you :( Seriously, I use English as my second language and I sometimes find it inevitable to think in my native language first and speak out my thoughts in my second language next.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@Maria Cecilia Talk about oversight! I'm guilty of that, too :) LOL! I'd check my writing for errors like two times only to find out that there were still typo errors on my third check. Argh! :D


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@Paul Kuehn I totally agree. In the past, I would frequently translate from my mother tongue Filipino to my second language English. I felt that it was easier for me to make English sentences that way. Eventually though I realized that translating took up so much of my time and would even result in so many errors :(


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 5 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

Having learned a few foreign languages myself, the most difficult parts are verb conjugation and grammar. One trick I use is to begin speaking my native language using the grammar of the target language. Then, formatting grammatically correct sentences in the target language becomes natural.


Maria Cecilia profile image

Maria Cecilia 5 years ago from Philippines

Nice one girl, this is a good reminder to us who use English as 2nd Language. We all know our grammars but sometimes writing or typing your piece became too comfortable that we unconsciously committed mistakes. My problem is more on neglect.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

A well-written hub. A lot of the errors you have discussed result from the interference of the student's first (native) language when learning ESL or EFL. For example, in the Thai language adjectives come after nouns. A lot of students tend to translate word by word from their native language into English when they are learning.

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