Today I’m going to share 21 of the most common English speaking mistakes. These are common mistakes that English learners make, but native English speakers also make them! You definitely want to get these everyday conversational phrases right so you can make your English more correct, more fluent, and so that you can enjoy feeling confident when you speak English.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into these 21 common English speaking mistakes. Don’t forget that if you’d like to learn more with me, join my email group for students by clicking here to receive some of the best free English tips directly in your email inbox.
1. Since vs. For
Our first common mistake is “since” vs. “for.” One of these we use with a specific time or date, and we use the other one for a period of time. Do you know which is which? Let’s look at a common mistake:
I’ve been in the US since four years.
That is incorrect. To say this thought correctly, try:
I’ve been in the US for four years.
I’ve been in the US since 2018.
You can see that “for” is only used with a period of time, like the number of years. “Since” is used with a specific point of time in the past. To use it in a question, we could say:
For how long have you been studying English? (the answer is a period of time)
Since when have you been studying English? (the answer is a specific date)
2. Using the Past Tense Twice in a Sentence
I hear a lot of people using the past tense twice when they shouldn’t. For example:
I didn’t went to the party.
I didn’t ate healthy.
I cannot say this without feeling pain in my in my brain because it’s just incorrect. We cannot use the past tense twice like this. We’ve already made “do” into “did,” which is the past tense. If you’ve already changed the helping verb into the past tense, you don’t need to also use the past tense of your main verb.
I didn’t go to the party.
I didn’t eat healthy for lunch.
3. Less vs. Fewer
These are often confused by native speakers, also. In fact, when I go to the supermarket, I see the sign that says “Less than 10 items in the express lane.” Actually, this is incorrect! It should be “Fewer than 10 items in the express lane.” “Fewer” is for countable items, and “less” is for non-countable items. For example:
I have less money today than I did yesterday.
I have fewer dollars today than I did yesterday.
Dollars are countable, but money is non-countable.
4. Still vs. Yet
This is one that actually my mother confuses sometimes, so I’ve gotten confused in the past! “Still” is something that started in the past and continues through the present. “Yet” is something that we want but it hasn’t happened. The difference is pretty clear.
Are you still watching that show on Netflix? (the one you were watching yesterday)
Have you seen that show on Netflix yet? (I don’t think you have seen it)
5. I vs. Me
This is knowing the difference between a pronoun that is used in the subject of a sentence, before the verb (I), vs. the pronoun that is used in the object, or after the verb (me). Look at this sentence:
Are you coming with him?
Notice that I used “him” and not “he,” because “him” is the pronoun we need to use in the object of a sentence. You wouldn’t say:
Are you coming with he?
In the same way, you need to use “me” in the object, and “I” in the subject.
Are you coming with me? (not “Are you coming with I?)
Are you coming with us? (not “Are you coming with we?)
6. Subject-Verb Agreement
This one is tricky because sometimes a subject can sound plural when it’s not. For example:
One of my favorite kinds of pizza is Hawaiian.
Do you know what a Hawaiian pizza is, with the ham and the pineapple? It’s really good. Anyway, “one” is actually the subject, not “kinds.” “One” is singular, and “kinds” is plural. So our verb needs to be singular – “is.”
7. There Is vs. There Are
There are a lot of people, especially native speakers (I am guilty of this too!), who use “there is” when we’re talking about a plural subject. For example:
There’s many ways to study English.
That’s actually an incorrect sentence. I should say:
There are many ways to study English.
The reason many native speakers end up using “there’s” instead of “there are” is simply because it’s easier to say. Try it! There’s, there’re. Which feels more comfortable when you’re pronouncing it, “there’s” or “there’re?” Too many “r” sounds in a row are hard to pronounce, even for native speakers.
8. A vs. An
Another common mistake is to use “a” before a noun that starts with a vowel. We say,
Have an awesome day!
We don’t say,
Have a awesome day!
That’s also very uncomfortable and clunky to say, so we say “an” before a word that starts with a vowel.
9. Further vs. Farther
I was personally confused about these two words. “Farther” is for measuring distance. Further is not something you can measure in distance.
10 miles is farther than I want to walk right now, so let’s take a taxi.
I need to research further into this topic.
10. Repeating the Subject
Another common mistake is repeating the subject in a sentence when you really don’t need to.
My friend she’s coming with me.
We don’t need to say “she.” We can just say,
My friend is coming with me.
If we talk about her again, then we could say “she,” because we know who we are talking about.
11. Double Negatives
Native speakers will sometimes use double negatives when they shouldn’t. For example:
I don’t need no money to have fun.
In fact, this is actually a popular song by Sia, if you know it. But “I don’t need no money” is grammatically incorrect. I still understand the meaning, that you can have fun without having money, but the correct way to say it would be:
I don’t need any money to have fun.
12. In vs. To
When we’re talking about traveling, we say “to” a place. Don’t say, “I’ve been in the US.” Say, “I’ve been to the US.” If you ask someone a question, you would say, “Have you been to the US?”
13. In vs. Into
Along these lines, sometimes people confuse “in” and “into.” We would use “into” if there is movement involved. For example:
I am in the classroom. (no movement)
I am going into the classroom. (there is movement)
Often if you are using the verb “going,” it indicates movement, so you would use “into” because it suggests movement.
14. Look At, Search For, Listen To
I often hear people forgetting or not saying these three verbs that really need prepositions after them. The prepositions are very small, and when you hear people say them in everyday conversation you may not even hear them because native speakers say them quickly and it sounds like they are not even there. But they are there!
Look at me.
Listen to me.
Search for the answer.
You can hear them, but in a sentence they become smaller and we say them very quickly.
15. Double Comparatives
Don’t say, “more prettier” or “more uglier.” That is incorrect, and native speakers are often guilty of this! Just say, “prettier, uglier, better, faster,” and don’t add “more.”
16. Too vs. So
Here’s a huge one. A lot of English learners confuse “too” and “so.” For example:
I like your dress too much.
If you use “too” in this way, it’s actually something negative, where you feel like it’s a bad thing that you like the dress too much, more than you should. That doesn’t really make sense. What you actually mean to say is:
I like your dress so much.
In this sentence, “so” is similar to “very.” “Too” means “in excess,” so many times “too much” isn’t a good thing.
17. That vs. Who
If you’re talking about people, use “who.”
I just texted my friend who is from France.
Many people do say “that,” as in “that is from France,” and to be honest, it’s generally acceptable. But it’s more correct to use “who” when you are talking about people.
18. Adverbs that end in -ly
Do you want to learn English quickly?
A lot of native speakers would just say “quick” in this sentence. But that’s really not correct. When you are describing the verb (in this sentence, the verb is “learn”), you should use an adverb. So “quick” needs an -ly at the end to become an adverb – “quickly.”
19. Very vs. Really
Don’t say, “I feel very great.” This is a common mistake. When you’re talking about feelings, use “really.”
I feel really great.
You got a very good score on your test.
You got a really good score on your test.
In this sentence you can use either one, but remember for feelings, use “really.”
20. Pronouncing -ed in Past Tense Verbs
When you’re pronouncing the past tense, make sure that you’re pronouncing it correctly. You don’t have to add the “-ed” sound to many past tense verbs. Look at the word “changed.”
I changed my mind.
Say “changd,” not “chang-ed.” I made another video lesson to tell you all about how to know when to say the “-ed” and when to just use a “t” sound or a “d” sound for the “-ed” spelling. You can watch it here.
21. Anybody vs. Nobody
This is another big one! When you don’t expect anyone to agree or say yes, use “nobody.” For example:
Nobody wants any ice cream.
I’m expecting that you are on a diet and you don’t want to eat ice cream. But if I ask:
Does anybody (or Does anyone) want some ice cream?
I expect you to say yes!
This was a lot of information! These are 21 common English speaking mistakes. But don’t worry! Remember that sometimes native speakers make these mistakes, too. If you can use these words correctly, you’re going to speak English better than like 90% of the people on the planet. If you can work on one of these at a time, a little bit at a time, you can improve your English little by little. You will be doing great, and you’ll be fluent in no time! You’ll be learning English very quickly…not “quick,” but “quickly.”
I hope this was helpful for you. Thanks for joining me today! Remember, if you want to sign up for the student email group and get free, helpful tips like this in your email inbox, just click here to sign up. After you sign up, you can expect to hear from me very soon! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and come back soon for more really useful English tips from Go Natural English!