Skip to main content Skip to footer

Common English language mistakes to avoid: Tips to polish your skills

Learning English can be tricky. It's a language that should come with warning signs, like "proceed with caution", "highly confusing", or even “accident-prone!" After all these years of learning and practise, experts also make English language mistakes. These mistakes can be as simple as: 

  • Spelling errors 
  • Incorrectly using conjunctions (words which are used to connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences together) 
  • Using commas in the wrong places 

New words and phrases are added to the English language almost every day, which means the number of possible English language mistakes keeps growing. 

Common English language mistakes

There are 1.5 billion people who speak English worldwide. Interestingly, these people from different places make some very common English language mistakes. Let's look at some common mistakes and learn how to avoid them. 

1. Confusion of homophones 

Homophones are words that have the same sound but different meanings and spellings. Some common examples of homophones are: 

Their vs There vs They're 

  • There tells us about a place or location. 
  • Their shows that something belongs to someone. 
  • They're is a short way of saying they are. 

For example, 

  • Incorrect: Their going to the park. 
  • Correct: They're going to the park. 

Your vs You're 

  • Your shows that something belongs to you. 
  • You're is a short way of saying you are

For example, 

  • Incorrect: Your doing a great job in your English studies. 
  • Correct: You're doing a great job in your English studies. 

2. Verb tense errors 

Verb tense mistakes happen when you use the wrong tense for the time of the action. The wrong tense can be confusing for the reader or listener. Use the right tense to say what you mean and keep the order of events clear. 


  • Present simple: Used to talk about things that happen regularly or are always true. 
  • Present continuous: Used to talk about things that are happening now or in the near future. 
  • Present perfect: Used to talk about things that happened in the past but have a connection to the present. 
  • Present perfect continuous: Used to talk about things that have been happening for a period of time and are still happening now. 


  • Past simple: Used to talk about things that happened in the past. 
  • Past continuous: Used to talk about things that were happening in the past but are not happening now. 
  • Past perfect: Used to talk about things that happened before another event in the past. 
  • Past perfect continuous: Used to talk about things that had been happening for a period of time before another event in the past. 


  • Future continuous: Used to talk about things that will be happening in the future. 
  • Future perfect: Used to talk about things that will have happened by a certain time in the future. 
  • Future perfect continuous: Used to talk about things that will have been happening for a period of time by a certain time in the future. 

3. Pronoun errors 

Pronouns are words that can take the place of nouns. For example, instead of saying, "The boy went to the shop", you could say, "He went to the shop". The pronoun "he" takes the place of the noun "boy". 

When we use pronouns, they are about the nouns that came before them. These nouns are called antecedents. For example, in the sentence "He went to the shop," the antecedent of the pronoun "he" is the noun "boy". 

When we use pronouns incorrectly or when they do not match their antecedents, we make pronoun errors. To communicate clearly, you should match pronouns to their antecedents in three ways: number, gender, and person. 

  • Number: This tells us if the pronoun replaces one thing (singular) or more than one thing (plural). 
  • Gender: This tells us if the pronoun replaces a noun that is masculine, feminine or no specific gender (neutral). 
  • Person: This tells us who the pronoun is talking about – the speaker, the listener, or someone else. 

For example, 

  • Incorrect: Me and John are going to the park. 
  • Correct: John and I are going to the park. 
  • Incorrect: The teacher gave an award to Clair and she. 
  • Correct: The teacher gave an award to Clair and me. 

4. Spelling errors 

When you write words using the wrong letters, they are called spelling errors. If words are misspelt, it might cause some confusion. It is important to spell words correctly so that others know what you are writing. 

  • Incorrect: I would like a desert
  • Correct: I would like a dessert
  • Incorrect: I recieved your message yesterday. 
  • Correct: I received your message yesterday. 

5. Apostrophe errors 

Apostrophe mistakes happen when we don't use apostrophes correctly or forget to use them at all. Apostrophes are little marks that can change the meaning of a sentence, so, it's very important to use them correctly. When something belongs to someone, we usually add "'s" after the noun or the name, but if the noun/name ends with an "s," we just put the apostrophe at the end. 

  • Incorrect: The dogs tail wagged happily. 
  • Correct: The dog's tail wagged happily. 
  • Incorrect: The Jones house is beautiful. 
  • Correct: The Jones’ house is beautiful. 

6. Run-on sentences 

When two or more sentences are joined without the right punctuation (full stops/period and commas) or connecting words ("and," "but," or “because"), we create run-on sentences. These sentences are hard to read and understand. To fix this, use the correct punctuation and words to break up the parts of a sentence. 

  • Incorrect: I went to the store I bought some groceries. 
  • Correct: I went to the store, and I bought some groceries. 
  • Incorrect: She is very talented she can sing, dance, and act. 
  • Correct: She is very talented. She can sing, dance, and act. 

7. Misplaced modifiers 

Modifiers can be words or phrases that describe or give more information about other words or phrases in a sentence. For example, the word "very" is a modifier that can be used to describe other adjectives, adverbs, or verbs. 

Modifiers placed in the wrong position cause confusion about what they are describing. To avoid confusion, put modifiers near the word or phrase in the correct place. This will help you write better sentences that are easier to understand. 

  • Incorrect: I saw a man walking the dog with long hair. 
  • Correct: I saw a man with long hair walking the dog. 
  • Incorrect: The boy was playing with a broken toy with a broken leg. 
  • Correct: The boy with a broken leg was playing with a broken toy. 

8. Lack of agreement errors 

When the parts of a sentence don't match, this is called a lack of agreement. This can happen when the wrong forms of words are used or when there's an incorrect number (singular or plural) of items mentioned in the sentence. A lack of agreement can make a sentence hard to read and sound wrong. For a sentence to be clear and easy to understand, everything must match. By learning about subject – verb agreement, you can write better, grammatically correct sentences. 

  • Incorrect: The team are playing well today. 
  • Correct: The team is playing well today. 
  • Incorrect: The group of musicians were performing on stage. 
  • Correct: The group of musicians was performing on stage. 

English grammar rules can sometimes be flexible. They might also change based on the situation or where people speak the language. The examples given here are only common English language mistakes. Ask our English language experts about grammar rules and guidance to find out more. At English Path, we have a team of specialists who teach English to students of many ages and levels. We have campuses in the UK, Dublin, Malta, Toronto, and Dubai. Our teachers are well-qualified and help students speak and write in English. 

Tips to avoid English language mistakes 

Here are some tips to avoid common English language mistakes while speaking and writing: 

  1. Proofread your writing carefully: Take your time to read your writing. Look for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors slowly and carefully. 
  1. Read a lot: Read different types of English texts, such as books, articles, and websites. It will help you improve your grammar and vocabulary. 
  1. Use a grammar checker: There are many grammar checkers available online. Use them to find your English language mistakes
  1. Start practising: The more you practise speaking and writing in English, the better you will be. You will make fewer English language mistakes
  1. Join English Path: We are a language school. Our expert teachers can help you improve your English speaking and writing skills. They can guide you through your English language mistakes

Learning English is a long process. Making mistakes is normal. Just remember that good things take time. Keep learning and practising to reduce the number of English language mistakes you make. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about common English language mistakes

A1: Some of the most common English language mistakes are: 

  • Homophones: confusing words that sound the same but have different meanings 
  • Verb tense: using the wrong form of a verb to show the time of an action 
  • Pronouns: using the wrong pronoun to refer to a noun 
  • Spelling: incorrectly writing a word 
  • Apostrophes: using apostrophes incorrectly 
  • Run-on sentences: combining two or more words or phrases without the right punctuation 
  • Word choice: using the wrong word to describe something 
  • Agreement: not matching words properly 

A2: To avoid English language mistakes, you can try these tips. 

  • Check your writing carefully before sharing it 
  • Read more to learn new words and improve your grammar 
  • Use grammar checker tools to spot errors 
  • Practice writing and speaking English regularly 
  • Ask experts like our teachers at English Path to build your English skills

A3: To correct your English language mistakes, find out what mistakes you are making. Learn how you can correct them. Are there grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or maybe something else? Ask English language experts, friends, or family members for help. 

A4: To improve your English grammar skills: 

  • Learn the basics of grammar, like parts of speech and sentence structure. 
  • Read different types of writing to see how grammar is used. 
  • Write and speak in English as much as possible. 
  • Ask for help if needed. 
  • Finally, think about joining our English language training centre, English Path. We can help you learn English and achieve your goals.

A5: We have a group of English language teaching specialists at English Path. We also have many English learning courses for students of many ages and levels. Choose us if you are looking for the right place to correct your mistakes.