10 Common Mistakes People Make in English Usage

English is a funny language. Yes, there is no doubt about it. For example, ‘b-u-t’ and ‘p-u-t’ are pronounced in two different ways despite having similar spellings. A word can have two different meanings and two different pronunciations. For example, the word ‘alternate’ can be pronounced as “ɔːltənayt”, meaning to change from one option to another. It can also be pronounced as “ɔːlˈtəːnət”, meaning every other.

While understanding that English can be a little confusing and misleading, I also say that the common mistakes that I allude to are not very mind-boggling. In fact, they are simple terms used in daily life. I am always like this when I lay eyes on one of these mistakes:


Let us take a look at the common mistakes and the differences between what is and what should be.

  1. What is: “Common guys! Let’s do it!”
    What should be: “Come on guys! Let’s do it!”
    Unless you are trying to brand your friends as common, the correct usage is “Come on!” Meaning, you are trying to get your friends to come with you! No excuses here!
  1. What is: “Your so irritating.”
    What should be: “You’re so irritating.”
    This is the most irritating mistake that people make.
    ‘Your’ means ‘belonging to you.’ Like “Your sense of humor is so irritating.”
    ‘You’re’ means ‘You are.’ It is something that we are taught in our childhood and daily usage must by now ingrain it in our minds. But apparently it is not so. Like “You are irritating.”
  1. What is: “I bought it from home.”
    What should be: “I brought it from home.”
    “Bought” is the past tense of buy and “Brought” is the past tense of “bring”. And you NEVER buy things from home.
  1. What is: “I am worried about my carrier.”
    What should be: “I am worried about my career.”
    Apparently, the pronunciation of the word ‘career’ is almost always mixed up with that of ‘carrier’. Unless you are worried about your vehicle or your tiffin, the correct pronunciation (to avoid confusion) is ‘kəˈrɪə’. Say it like you would say ‘currier’. The ‘r’ here is silent.
  1. What is: “I am complementing you on your English.”
    What should be: “I am complimenting you on your English.”
    Please do not complement me on my English. I will, however, accept compliments.
    Complement means to add to, while compliment means to praise.
  1. What is: “Its not good.”
    What should be: “It’s not good.”
    ‘Its’ is used to describe an association to a certain object.
    ‘It’s’ means ‘It is’. No excuses here, too!
  1. What is: “I have been working here since four years.”
    What should be: “I have been working here since 2010.”
    ‘Since’ is used when you are referring to a particular time in the past, as in a particular date or a month or a year. So if you want to refer to an approximate duration, use ‘for’, as in, “I have been working here for four years.”
  1. What is: “I asked him to return back the money I gave him.”
    What should be: “I asked him to return the money I gave him.”
    Return means to send something back to a person. The usage of ‘back’ makes it completely redundant and incorrect. It’s like saying “send back back the money”. It’s that incorrect.
  1. What is: “I except your offer.”
    What should be: “I accept your offer.”
    Except means to exclude whatever is following the word.
    Accept means to consent.
    So unless you want to say that you want to ignore the offer, please use ‘accept’.
  1. What is: “Where did you loose your phone?”
    What should be: “Where did you lose your phone?”
    Unless you mean to say that your phone has been ill-assembled by you (even then ‘loose’ is not the right word; ‘loosen’ is!), the correct word is ‘lose’, meaning ‘to be deprived of’, while ‘loose’ means not fitting tightly.

These are just ten of the many mistakes that people make in everyday English usage. And the Internet is not very kind to such errors. Like someone rightly pointed out, “When you make an English mistake in school, all you get is a red mark. Type ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ on the Internet and may God have mercy on your soul.” Rightly said!

Until next time, keep smiling and please, please avoid making these mistakes! 🙂

Gif courtesy: http://www.reactiongifs.com/tag/facepalm/


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