Teachers' blog


【Grammar Mistakes-1/2】

(Contributed by Brian)
I have been an English teacher now for some time, and I can confess to you that English grammar is quite simply the most bamboozling thing you will ever come across.
I am going to list to you today the most common mistakes. These are the mistakes that you will be picked up on instantaneously when speaking. Also, for the record there are plenty of English speakers who can make these mistakes, so please remember, you are not alone — even English-speakers find their own grammar structures difficult!
May and might
Deciding between these two verbs is very tricky, because there is very little difference between them. They both indicate that something is possible, but might suggests there is more uncertainty than may.
“I might take a trip to India next year” – this implies maybe you will go to India next year, or maybe you won’t.
“I may have a slice of cake after dinner.” – This expresses with more certainty that you are going to eat that cake.
What is even more confusing is that ‘may’ comes in the futurer and ‘might’ in the past.
“He may eat the last piece of cake.” (Giving permission in the present tense.)
“He might have eaten the last piece of cake.” (Referring to the past, and missed opportunity.)
Fewer and less
This is a grammar mistake is a very common among English speaking people; if you must do this you be ahead of the pack.
Now, ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ are the opposite of ‘more’.
Fewer is used for countable nouns, such as books, cars, people or cups.
Less on the other hand, is used for uncountable nouns, for example, love, water, electricity or science.
“There are fewer cars on the road today than yesterday.” (Remember cars countable nouns.)
“I want to turn off the lights to use less electricity.” (Electricity is an uncountable noun.)
Could, should, or would
these are very similar sounding verbs, and they can cause a lot of problems.
Should is used to give advice.
“You should eat less if you wish to lose weight.” / “You should buy that since it looks good on you”.
Would is used to describe an unlikely situation or to make polite offers to people.
“I would love to go to Italy, but I don’t have enough money.” (Unlikely situation.)
“Would you care for some tea?” (A polite offer.)
Since and for
The difference between these two words is that for is used with a period or duration of time, while since is used at a point or an exact moment in time.
“The test will last for approximately 1 hour.” (Duration of time.)
“Henry VIII ruled England for 24 years in Tudor times.” (Period of time.)
“He’s been jogging since 7am.” (Exact moment in time.)
“He has lived in Bangkok since 2003”. (Fixed point in time.)
Bring and take
Now this is a very common error. You might also get confused with the same principle but with different words, i.e. ‘come’ and ‘go’. They have almost the same meaning, but what makes them different is the direction in which something is being given or received.
‘Bring’ suggest movement towards the speaker, making it very similar to ‘come’.
“Please bring that box over here.” (The box is moving towards the speaker.)
“Please bring a snack to the party.” (The snack is coming to the party.)
‘Take’ on the other hand suggest movement away from the speaker. It is very similar to ‘go’.
“Don’t forget to take your book to school.” (Leaving the home and taking the book to school, moving away.)
“Please take me home.” (To take you from your current location and go home.)

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