Published 14th April 2020
English is a funny language. The simple fact that pony and Bologna rhyme but rough, through and though don’t should be a giveaway but many people don’t realise just how weird it is until they teach English as a Foreign Language. In fact, while English teachers are usually focused on the English mistakes their students are making, there are many English mistakes that even teachers make!
Of course there are many different Englishes and people may use different vocabulary and even different grammar when they speak – and so what might be considered wrong in one English is totally natural in another – and that’s not what we’re talking about. Differences in dialect is one thing, but there are some instances of language usage which are just plain wrong no matter what English you speak.
We’re not going to bother with the usual their, they’re, there or its, it’s, because, quite frankly, those mistakes are inexcusable, but have a look at these common mistakes in English – you never know, you could be making them!
If I had known she was going to be there, I would of told you OR If I had known she was going to be there, I would’ve told you? Zero points and a shake of the head if you chose option A, 10 points and a high-five if you chose option B!
Every day vs everyday
Every day refers to something that happens every day. Everyday is an adjective referring to something which is commonplace, ordinary or typical.
I have eggs for breakfast every day but My everyday work outfit is a suit.
Affect vs effect
This is quite simple, actually. Affect is the verb, effect is the noun.
Now let’s move onto a few more which might be a bit trickier.
For all intensive purposes
For all intents and purposes.
Repeat after me: not a word. Not. A Word. Hint: use regardless.
Bare with me
A possibly embarrassing mistake, this one. Bare means naked, so instead of saying bare with me, you need to say bear with me.
You’ve got another thing coming
No, actually you’ve got another think coming.
When you’re trying to blame someone for something you’ve done wrong then you’re, in fact, looking for a scapegoat.
On tender hooks
To be on tender hooks sounds very strange indeed but, to be fair, the correct on tenterhooks doesn’t make sense to us these days anyway.
I could care less
While I could care less implies that you still care, the correct I couldn’t care less shows that you care so little that you would not be able to care any less – which is really what you are trying to say, isn’t it?As a teacher, if you’re worried about your English language learners making mistakes, it’s your duty to make sure you’re not the one making them!