Category Archives: Common mistakes

Mistake 27: Good or Well?

When someone asks  ‘How are you?‘, what is the correct answer? ‘I’m good? /I’m well?‘ I have found an interesting article that explains why both answers are correct. You can read it here.

As it is explained in the article, as a general rule, ‘Well’ is an adverb and should modify a verb. Example: She did very well in the exam.

‘Good’ is an adjective and should modify a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun. Example: She is a good student.

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Mistake 26: Two more tickets or two tickets more?

This is a common mistake among Spanish speakers because of the influence of our language. ‘More’ in these types of sentences is an adjective in English and as a result it precedes the noun: ‘Two more tickets‘.

In Spanish, however, it is considered an adverb and used after the noun: ‘Dos tickets más‘.

Have a look at the following picture from Vaughan’s creepy corner:

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Mistake 25: See, look or watch?

When is it correct to use See, Look and Watch?

These verbs can be difficult to diferentiate as their meanings are similar.

I have found a webpage where the explanation is quite clear: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/es/gramatica/gramatica-britanica/look-at-see-or-watch

The following picture summarizes the explanation before, so I hope it helps you to remember it better:

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Mistake 24: Very, Very dangerous

In order to emphasize the meaning of an adjective, many people tend to use “very”. But using “very” can be very dangerous. Why?

The reason is that there are two types of adjectives:

1- Base adjectives: These are the normal adjectives and don’t have the idea of ‘very’ implied so they can be graded, that is to say: I can be a bit bored, the book can be quite interesting, a story can be too long or an exercise can be very easy.

2- However, there are strong adjectives or extreme adjectives, where the idea of ‘very’ is implied. Therefore, you can’t use ‘very’ with them. For example: A box can be very small or TINY; a house can be very big or ENORMOUS; I can be very tired or EXHAUSTED, and so on…

If you want to add any emphasis to latter ones, you can add adverbs like: Really, absolutely, utterly... That also have a kind of “extreme” connotation.

Would you like some practice? Try to match the following base adjectives with their corresponding strong adjective in the box. The solutions are in the comment below.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 18.10.03

 

Mistake 23: Simple or continuous form? Action vs non-action verbs

Verbs which describe actions (run, walk, cook, make, read, look for…) can be used in the continuous or simple form.

Example: I always wait for him // I’ve been waiting for you for an hour.

Verbs which describe feelings or states, not actions (like, love, hate, prefer, agree, be, belive, belong, depend, forget, hear, smell, taste, know, matter, mean, need, realize, recognize, remember, seem, suppose…) are not usually used in the continuous form even if you mean ‘now’.

Example: I love pasta// She agrees with you.

Some verbs change their meaning when used in the simple or continuous form. They can be action or non-action verbs.

Example: I have a car (possession- non action verb)- I’m having a shower (it’s not possession, it’s action)

Example: The soup smells delicious (sense of smell- non action verb)- I’m smelling the flower (I’m sniffing- action)

Example: This jacket feels like silk (sense of feeling- non action verb)-  I’m feeling the radiator (I’m touching- action)

However, when you want to emphasize an action, the continuous form can be used. Although it is not academically correct, it is used in the oral form. The most typical example can be found in the so common slogan: ‘I’m lovin’ it’

Mistake 22: Tall or High?

A very helpful video that explains when to use Tall and High. Don’t miss it!

Mistake 21: everything or all?

Everything and all mean “todo“, so when to use them?

– All: As an adjective, it is followed by plural or uncountable nouns.

Example: All the tickets were sold out immediately. OR He spilled all the soup on the table.

As a pronoun, it’s usually followed by an explanation sentence.

Example: Thanks for all you’ve done. OR All you need is love.

Everything is a pronoun and it’s used alone. There’s no noun or complement after it.

Example: Everything went wrong. OR Thanks for everything.