Native speakers don’t realise it, but anyone learning English as a foreign language will know that it can be a hard language to learn. A certain period of self-study may be possible, but taught general English courses are really one of the best ways of learning, and even better to learn English in London, where you’re surrounded by native speakers and the culture. Nevertheless, and however you’re learning, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common mistakes you can make in English to help you out. Adjectives In many languages, adjectives come after the noun they describe. So, in French or Spanish, for example, you would talk about ‘a T-shirt white’ rather than ‘a white T-shirt’. It can be hard not to translate everything the way it appears in your own language, but you need to remember that in English, adjectives always come BEFORE! There’s even a certain order to use when using multiple adjectives to describe one thing – opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material and then purpose. Third Person ‘S’ In some other languages, verbs are conjugated so that there can be six different parts. However, in English, the present tense just has two parts. Less to learn, but foreign students tend to forget about the second one, which only applies to the third person singular (he/she/it). Students often say ‘he eat’, for example, instead of ‘he eats’. While this may not be so important for general understanding, as the meaning doesn’t change or get confused, those wanting to study academic English and apply for university courses should try and master this early on. Countable vs Uncountable Nouns Many common nouns, such as information, advice, sugar and fruit, are uncountable in English, meaning we don’t precede them with the indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’, nor do they usually exist in the plural. However, these can sometimes be countable in other languages, or the idea may just confuse students, so again this is something to try and learn earlier rather than later. Articles Related to the previous section, getting the wrong article (‘the’ instead of ‘a’, for example), or using an article where there shouldn’t be one is another common mistake non-native speakers often make. Most uncountable nouns don’t require any indefinite article, while it is used for non-specific, countable nouns. The definite article ‘the’ is used for specific singular or plural nouns. Make and Do These two words often translate into just one in another language. Consequently, it can be confusing to know which word to use in English. As a basic rule, ‘make’ is for things you can create, while ‘do’ is for actions, although there are certain expressions which you will just need to learn. Say and Tell Like ‘make’ and ‘do’, these two words often pose a problem, particularly with the use of the prepositions (or not) which follow. Remember, you can say something TO someone, or you can tell someone something. There are many more complexities to this wonderful language, but once you get the hang of them, the world is your oyster!
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