The 11 Most Common Mistakes that Foreigners Make When they Speak English!

Do you know why some people make more mistakes in English than others? It is not because they are bad at English. It is because they make the same mistakes over and over again! They don’t hear or listen to themselves because listening is a skill. There are many of these common mistakes that every English learner makes and it can be frustrating to learn them. However, there are ways to help you avoid making these common mistakes.

What does English sound like to foreigners?

Mistake 1: Do and Make

This is perhaps the easiest mistake to make. This occurs when writers indicate that they are doing something by using do + verb with an infinitive form of the verb

The general way to remember which to use is:

Make – another word for “create” and can only be used with nouns when you mean to create them (objects or things) Do – can be used with verbs and refers to actions.

Mistake 2: In and To

This is probably the second most common mistake that people make! It occurs when writers use incorrect prepositions with verbs.

In English, we can only say “in” somewhere when we are actually still at that place

“I am in London now.”

Or to talk about when you were still there:

“I was in London last week.” If you mean to put something where it’s not normally, use the location of that place in front of “In!” For example:

Somewhere else I have been told that using one preposition before a tense verb can lead to some mistakes. However, if you are going somewhere but cannot keep precise time, then more than one word works better and therefore more clearly say this rather than saying “I was there last Tuesday”.

Mistake 3: Take / Take Off

This is another common English mistake that occurs mainly in writing and not speaking: Writers use Should Take to mean said with an infinitive. This can be confusing when you see phrases like ‘take off this’ or ‘I’ll take my coat off now’. They don’t know writing skills good.

The polite form of saying would be ‘let me pass, please’ when we want to say something. Most educated people only let the person they’re talking to pass them if they haven’t arrived at a party yet.

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Mistake 4: This, that, and it

This is the fourth common mistake that’s made in writing, not speaking. It occurs when writers use The word This to mean That or it because ‘this’ can be used before another ‘that’. For example: Write this report for me if you are being asked to write a report or he wrote this test today but should have written yesterday one.

That: Something that is far from you

This: Something that is close to you

It: A thing you are talking about

The word that says again – same rule does not translate forever! Use the word that if you have to use two adjectives or a noun “She is fat and happy”

It should be used when it replaces another object. For example: “I’ve got this book, I’ll lend it.” This one here must not be provided by me It’s been borrowed from the library for three years now.

Mistake 4: Articles

This mistake is often called The Silent Article, as one does not normally have to look for this little piece of information. In fact, the silent article occurs due to misunderstanding where people may write “be”, instead of using a preposition or an absolute phrase beginning with a comma between two nouns – “a cafe do I need” – rather than starting vertically with ‘Cafe – Do – I don’t know’ rather like you would if you’re writing.

Mistake 5: Overuse of Colons

Mistakes in writing are usually made with the careful use of punctuation marks, however, several overused punctuation marks have led to some misuses when speaking English. “Colons” often lead to confusion because their meaning is not always conveying how it’s supposed by its context for example ‘Nowadays’ can be translated as ‘Sometimes’, so this one here is incorrect; however, the colon is correct (although an extra comma can be used and still convey a whole idea) in some sentences: “Some time ago I went to your house” – This sentence makes perfect sense if we remove said colons ‘Sometimes’ for example would make even more mistakes.

Mistake 6: Present Perfect and Past Simple

The wrong tense used for sentences of simple facts is usually seen during the early levels of grammar courses. This fault can be attributed to carelessness, however, the basic concept behind it needs to be remembered if one wishes for accurate writing about everyday things.

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Present perfect – In general an event happened, used across a general period of time or over many situations, completed action.

Past simple – In a specific time, this event happened, used for only one specific time and not over many, completed actions.

Mistake 7: Not using prepositions with verbs of motion. :

The most basic of all errors in English being done is the incorrect use of prepositions to describe verbs related with motion, have you ever seen people walking along Ilminster Road or across it?

Mistake 8: Plurals/Singulars and Masses

Ipmsi has a plural form when they say “I play” rather than saying “I am playing”. This can be correct in some cases such as when the word is a description for something that belongs to more than one thing.



“Listen to this.”

So just saying “listen” doesn’t require “to” but if you say what you are listening to then you need it. Some examples of these verbs:

“Look at this”

“Ask for this”

“Look at this”

“Go/walk/drive to town”

“Shout at him”

Mistake 9: Ing/ed

The misuse of Ing vs. Ed happens to quite a lot of people, mostly when attempting to write out words or just by accident. Both ing and ed are standard grammar past tenses for nouns but there is actually much more that separates the two forms than meets the eye. Here’s how it all breaks down:


These mean very different things when used to describe someone.

“He is bored” – He is not interested and not having fun.

“He is boring” – You think that he is a boring person.

Mistake 10: Adverbs with “ly”

Notice the word after “ly”, don’t get distracted by this bit

Common words that end in ly are actually adjectives not adverbs. Examples of these include; “quick”, “late” and (some) irregular verbs like “enjoy”.

No verb:

“That’s correct.”


“That’s written correctly.”

Mistake 11: Present simple and Present continuous

When you are learning English, the way to remember this from a verb point of view is by picturing an “I” doing something over and over. A Present Simple Verb means the person or thing has been doing it for some time but nothing more than that.

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I say – I am saying/speaking a few times right now then stop bothering others with my earlier things done in previous sentences = present simple verb → I was saying/speaking yesterday or two weeks ago AND I am still saying this in the future.

A Present Continues Verb describes an action that is continuous, can’t completely stop (ie “The background music continues” – never stops = present continues verb). On the simile side of things here are some examples: “I jumped up and down for joy.” – You repeatedly do something very quickly with no pause between, This can be a physical action or a mental one.

“The music played joyfully all the way through.” – It is going to start, then will switch before finishing meaning it was continuous and not regular although this could often happen as well (even in spoken English as well as written).

Have you spotted yourself or any of your colleagues making any of these common mistakes? What have been the mistakes you’ve found yourself making most commonly with your business English, and what have you done to avoid making them in future?

So, What makes English hard for foreigners?

So what is it that makes English so hard for foreigners to learn? The answer is the combination of its vocabulary, orthography, and pronunciation. Most languages have a regulatory body that issues spelling reforms as the pronunciation of the language develops (which happens much faster than one might have expected).


What are the 10 common errors in English?

  1. Apostrophe error.
  2. Comma splice error.
  3. Dangling participle error.
  4. Exclamation mark misplacement.
  5. Filler word error.
  6. Fragment error.
  7. “I” for “it” or vice versa mistake.
  8. Hyphenated words in the wrong place.
  9. “It” instead of “he/she” error.
  10. Missing letters in a word or phrase.

What are the common mistakes that non-native English speakers?

  1. Not speaking clearly enough.
  2. Speaking too fast or using words they don’t know in a sentence.
  3. Using slang, profanity, and curse words when speaking with their friends or colleagues.
  4. Being rude to people by cutting them off when they speak in English without realizing it is a language barrier for the other person who may not understand what you are saying or doing what you say because of the language barrier created by your accent and pronunciation.