By Jacqueline Schaalje
Visiting Florence. Not: Visiting to Florence.
What can you do, when you want to speak a language you need to follow the rules of that language. Not all people do, and sad to say, that makes it very hard to talk to them, because of confusion. If someone does not follow the rules of a language, it also makes them less fun to talk with. So make sure you know the rules and be fun to talk with.
In this article I’ve just made a list of a few annoying mistakes that I hear my friends from other countries make, and my students of course. It’s so interesting that people make the same kinds of mistakes in English, and it doesn’t matter which country they are from. The funny thing is that, often, the native language that these people speak is much more difficult than English.
English isn’t a difficult language, I would say. Just check these mistakes and see if you make them. If yes, here is your chance to correct them.
1 Forgetting about “The.”
A typical mistake is not putting in the “the” article.
Where should you put in the?
Some countries are with “the.” Always.
The United States is with the.
The United Kingdom is with the.
A lot of seas are with the, too. Such as: The Mediterranean, The North Sea, The Baltic Sea, The Atlantic Ocean.
Some fixed expressions have the.
I’m in the mood to go out.
You always say that someone is in the mood for something.
(But when you say: I’m in a bad mood or a good mood or a romantic mood, it’s with a. Sorry.)
Some other expressions with “the” are:
In the name of
In the place of
At the moment
In the middle.
Saying thank you is with the.
If you say thank you, it’s usually for something particular.
So when you say thank you, it’s almost always for something with “the.”
Thank you for the beautiful flowers.
Thanks for the great dinner.
Thanks for the correction.
Thanks for the file.
Thanks for the lovely afternoon.
2 Not putting in “a.”
Another typical mistake is not putting in “a” where necessary.
It’s usually a few, and not few. For the difference between a few and few, check out this explanation.
So it’s a few months.
Same with a little or a little bit.
3 Some verbs don’t use “in” or “to.”
For instance, attend.
You say: I will attend my friend’s wedding tomorrow.
Not: attend in. Or attend to.
Another verb: Ask.
You don’t need to say: ask to someone.
The correct English is: ask someone.
So this would be a correct sentence: Can I ask you how old you are?
I know this is difficult to get right, because each verb in English is different. Some have no prepositions (words like in, to, for, at, etc.), and others do. If verbs have a preposition, it is usually the same one in each sentence.
For example, you always say: Interested in.
Not: interested for.
Or interested on.
Only interested in is correct English.
Another example: You always say listen to.
Not: listen in, or listen for or listen without a preposition.
So a correct sentence is: I like to listen to music on my iPod.
And the last example for now: Visit.
It’s not visit to, but simply visit.
Correct sentence: I don’t know when I can visit you.
Pens, not pen!
And mistake number 4 is: Not putting an s after a word if you mean the plural.
Really, what’s so difficult about saying pens when you have two pens?
The plural means more than one. In almost all English words you need to write an s at the end of the word when you mean more than one. Simple, isn’t it? And you also say this s, but often it will sound like a z.
A friend of mine was talking the other day about some singer he liked. Then he mentioned three names of singers. So only then I understood that he liked several singers. In the plural. So you see, if people don’t put an s in the right place, it takes much longer to understand them.
One minute after this the same friend was talking about “English artist.” And then in the same sentence he mentioned artists with an s. I didn’t know what he was talking about at that point. Was he talking about one artist or about artists in general? I was confused, and to tell you the truth I was ready to smash this person’s face in. But because he was a friend, I didn’t.
So, in short, if you have this problem you’ll need to think about the s at the end of words all the time.
Here is a quiz!
1 Which word should be with s in this sentence? Some people buy vinyl record because they like to watch them turn on the record player.
2 Which word should be with s in this sentence? Truman likes to read several magazine per week, especially when the weather is nice and he can sit outside on his balcony.
3 Sami and Pami are considering taking a cruise, but they don’t know yet whether they will take a cruise in Mediterranean or in United States. Where do you need to put “the” in this sentence?
Before United States.
Before Mediterranean and United States.
4 I was in middle of work when my manager knocked on the door because he wanted to talk. Where do you need to put “the” in this sentence?
Before middle and work.
5 My manager told me he needs file from visit to Beijing. Where do you need to put “the” in this sentence?
Before file and visit.
6 Which sentence is correct?
A Joe still occasionally listens punk music that influenced his youth.
B Joe still occasionally listens to punk music that influenced his youth.
7 Which sentence is correct?
The Prince and Princess of Wales are visiting Australia.
The Prince and Princess of Wales are visiting to Australia.
8 Which sentence is correct?
Are you attending to tomorrow’s lecture about logic?
Are you attending tomorrow’s lecture about logic?
9 It’s still long drive to our hotel, but we’ll get there in few hours. Where do you need to put “a” in this sentence?
Before long and few.