Common Mistakes part one

Skill: Vocabulary

Category: General English & Academic English

Level: Upper-Intermediate

Common Mistakes

Part One

Frequently, most of the second language learners make some common errors in writing in terms of spelling, usages, and punctuation.

1) cannot / can not

In informal writing and speech, cannot is usually contracted as “can’t” but in academic writing “cannot” is preferred.

Examples:

            INCORRECT: I can not afford to buy that tablet.

            CORRECT: I cannot afford to buy that tablet.

2) effect / affect

Effect is mostly used as a noun which means “something produced by a cause.” but the most use of the effect is as a transitive verb meaning “to act upon”. For example, the disease had a fatal effect on the patient. The teacher’s lack of preparedness affected his teaching process.

            INCORRECT: Her father’s death extremely effected her.

            CORRECT:  Her father’s death extremely affected her.

3) every day / everyday

Everyday functions as an adjective which means “daily” but every day is a phrase which combines the adjective every and the noun day. For example, Practicing is an everyday activity. I go to my office every day.

            INCORRECT: Elizabeth walks to the theater everyday at eight a.m.

            CORRECT:  Elizabeth walks to the theater every day at eight a.m.

4) loose/ lose

The (s) in loose has a soft sound while the (s) in lose has the sound of (z). Loose functions as an adjective which means “not tight”. For example: I do not prefer loose clothing for sleeping. On the other hand, lose functions as a verb “drop, be deprived of, forget, miss”. For example, she frequently loses his wallet in the taxi.

            INCORRECT: Be careful not to loose your way.

            CORRECT:  Be careful not to lose your way.

5) principle/ principal 

Principle functions as a noun which means “a general truth or rule”. On the other hand, principal as a noun refers to a person—a person in an authority.

            INCORRECT: The principle persuaded the students to follow the rules in school.  

            CORRECT:  The principal persuaded the students to follow the rules in school.

6) between you and me / I

Between is a preposition and meis the object form of pronoun I. So when a pronoun follows a preposition, the object form is needed.  

            INCORRECT: Keep this secret just been you and I.

            CORRECT:  Keep this secret just been you and me.

7) less / fewer

Less is used with non-count nouns: less water, less soup.

Fewer is used with countable nouns: fewer students, fewer apples.

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