Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com. Do you make these common mistakes in English? Let's talk about it. Have you ever felt afraid to make a mistake when you're speaking in English? What happens if you make a mistake? Other people will say, "What? What did you say?" Maybe you will miss out on a friendship or you won't seem professional at work and your heart will start beating. You might start sweating. It's a terrible feeling. I think that because of school we are all brought up with the idea that mistakes should be avoided at all costs. Mistakes are terrible. But do you know what? The reality is, that when you learn anything new, a language, when you're learning English, mistakes are inevitable. Inevitable is a wonderful word that means unavoidable. You will definitely make a mistake in English, because you're an English learner. And a little secret, I make mistakes in English too. So what I would like you to do, even though we are talking about common mistakes today, I would like you to take a deep breath with me. Because when you make a mistake in English, this means that you are getting out of your comfort zone. This is excellent. It means that you are learning and progressing, and sometimes making a mistake is a great way to learn. So I hope that you will not fear making mistakes, but instead you will feel confident that making mistakes means that you are trying something new that you've never done before, that you are having courage to get outside your comfort zone. So, congratulations, you are doing something challenging. You're learning something new and making mistakes is part of that. And to help you today, sometimes it's nice to learn from other people's mistakes. I would like to share with you 11 common mistakes in English that my students often make. These are some grammar mistakes, vocabulary mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, and maybe you make these mistakes too. Of course, it's not the end of the world, but you are here because you want to level up your English. So I hope that these mistakes and corrections will help you. To help you with this lesson as well, I have created a free PDF worksheet. In this worksheet, I will give you all of the mistakes, the corrections, sample sentences, some tips and ideas about how to avoid them, and what happens if you accidentally make those mistakes. And also, at the end of the worksheet, you will answer Vanessa's Challenge Question to help you use what you have learned in this lesson. So don't forget to download the free PDF worksheet. There is a link in the description just for you. It is my gift. All right, let's go on to learn these 11 common mistakes that I often hear my English students make. The first couple mistakes are grammar mistakes. Then we'll talk about vocabulary mistakes, and finally some common pronunciation mistakes. And you know what? If you make these mistakes, even after this video, I want you to take a deep breath and to realize that you are doing something amazing. You are learning a new language. You are getting outside of your comfort zone. You're awesome. All right. Let's start by talking about some common grammar mistakes. Mistake number one, "I went there by bus." "I went there by car." "I went there by plane." Okay, so grammatically in a textbook, they would say this is okay. But do you know what? In daily conversation, we rarely use "by" plus transportation. I went there by car, by bus, by plane, by taxi. It feels a little bit like textbook English or classroom English. Instead, we're more likely to use the verb "take". "I took a bus." "I took a train." "I took a flight." "I took the plane." With driving, because you're the one who is in control, we often just say drive. I drove to my friend's house. We drove to the beach. That's in the past tense, to drive, drove. But here, we're more likely to use a verb instead of a by phrase. So take a look at this sentence. How can we change it to make it be a little bit more natural? "We're going to Canada by plane next week." You see that phrase "by plane". And now you know it's not so natural, how can we change this up? Well, we have two options. We can use the verb "take". "We are taking a flight to Canada." Or you could just say, "We're flying to Canada." It doesn't mean you're a bird and you are actually flying. This implies that you are going into the airplane. So you could say, "We're taking a flight," or, "We're flying." Both of these are great options and you can see how we use the verb to describe the action instead of a "by" phrase. Yes, you will occasionally hear this, but I want to empower you to use the most natural phrase possible. All right, let's go to our second grammar mistake that is commonly made by English learners. "I have 33 years." Huh? No. When we're talking about age, we do not use "have". instead we can say, "I am 33 years old." "I am." We use a "be" verb to talk about age. This is something that I commonly see in my students who speak a romantic language like Brazilian-Portuguese or Spanish or Italian or French. I often hear, "I have 60 years." "I have 55 years." But instead we can have a little switch and just say "am". "I am 66 years old." "I am 40 years old." Beautiful. Common grammar mistake number three is, "We were five people at the party." Huh? This sounds very clunky and confusing in English. It's like there were five people in your head. What? We were five people. It's very confusing in English. So instead, it's much more natural, and in fact, just better grammar to say, "There were five people at the party." Or you could say, "There were five of us at the party." If you want to include yourself, the word "us" includes yourself. So you could say, "There were five of us at the party," or, "There were five people at the party." Both of those are excellent and they use the word "there" instead of "we". "We were five people." No. "There were five people." Great. Grammar mistake number four is, "Don't be scary." Huh? Is it Halloween? Are you dressed up like a vampire? Don't be scary there's children here. No, this phrase means stop scaring people. You're dressed up as something really scary. Stop being scary. Don't be scary. No, instead, a much more common phrase is, "Don't be scared." I find that when my English students want to say, "Don't be scared," they accidentally say, "Don't be scary," which has a very different meaning. You are dressed up as something scary for Halloween. So when you're trying to comfort someone or soothe someone, you could say, "Don't be scared. I know that speaking English can be a little bit difficult and maybe you feel nervous, but don't be scared. I'm nice. I hope that you can speak with me and feel comfortable. Don't be scared." Let's go onto some common vocabulary mistakes that my English students make. All of the words that I'm about to talk about are real English words, but they often get mixed up in conversations by English learners, and you know what, sometimes English native speakers too. So let's start with the first common vocabulary mistake. Definitely, defiantly. Hmm. Take a look at this sentence. "I definitely do not want to jump into the cold water. I definitely do not want to jump into the cold water." But take a look at this sentence. "He defiantly jumped into the cold water when I told him not to." Hmm. "He defiantly". Look at the spelling difference between these two words. For myself, I've found that as I'm writing sometimes I accidentally write the word defiantly. What's this word mean? This means that you're rebellious. I told him not to jump into the cold water, and do you know what he did? He looked at me and said, "Hm," and he jumped into the cold water anyway. He did it defiantly. He was being rebellious. He defiantly jumped into the cold water even though I told him not to. Hm. Now, I'm definitely upset. So make sure that when you're using these two words, whether it's spelling or speaking, we use them in the correct way. All right, let's go to our second vocabulary mistake. Dessert, desert. Ooh. "When I was walking across the desert, all I could think about was eating some ice cream for dessert." First, let's take a quick look at the spelling differences between these two words. When we talk about dessert, something sweet and tasty, ice cream, cake, cookies, there are two Ss. A good way to remember this is usually you want more dessert. So we have two Ss. And when we're talking about the hot, dry, sandy place, desert, there's only one S. That's the spelling differences, but let's talk about the emphasis and the pronunciation differences. "I want to eat some dessert. I want to eat some desserts." There is emphasis on the second syllable. Can you say that with me? I want to eat some dessert. Dessert. But what if I decide to go on vacation to visit that dry, sandy place? We might say, "I'm going to the desert. Desert." There's emphasis at the beginning, de-, desert. "I'm going to the desert. Desert." Wonderful. So make sure that when you are spelling these words, they're correct. And when you're emphasizing them, it's also correct. I'm going to tell you a really silly story of when I was a kid. I always wanted to ask my parents for some dessert, but I knew that if I just asked them, "Mom, can I have some dessert?" they might say no. So I had to come up with a creative way to ask them for some more dessert. So me and my sister and my two neighbors, who we always spent time with, I remember crawling down the hallway towards my parents and we said, "Oh, it's so hot in the desert. Oh, it's so hot in the desert. I need some dessert." We were very silly. So we were trying to get them to laugh and have a little bit of fun with the difference between these two words so that they would give us dessert. I hope this little story helps you to remember desert and desert. Okay. Let's go to our next common vocabulary mistake. Quiet and quite. This is another one that's easy to misspell when you're writing, because they're quite similar, quite similar. Let's a look at this sentence. "I was very quiet when I walked up the stairs." Take a look at the next sentence. "He was quite noisy when he walked up the stairs." We have an opposite meaning here. "I was very quiet," this means I didn't make much noise. I was very quiet when I walked up the stairs. Or, "He was quite noisy." We use the word quite as an emphasis. "He was quite noisy." He was very noisy when he walked up the stairs. He was quite noisy. Excellent. So make sure that when you're writing and when you're speaking, you use quiet and quite in the right way. Before we go onto some common pronunciation mistakes, let's go to our final vocabulary mistake that I commonly see with English learners, and maybe this is difficult for you too. Take a look at these two words, recipe and receipt. Let's talk about pronunciation first. Recipe, usually, if there is an E at the end of a word, it's silent, like the previous word we talked about, quite. Quite, we don't say quite-y. But in this word we say the final E, recipe. Can you say it with me? Recipe. This is what you read that gives you instructions for cooking. I found a great recipe for making chocolate chip cookies. A recipe. But that's second word, receipt. So many letters that are cut out. Receipt, re-, it sounds like R-U, receipt, seat. So the P is cut out and the E-I is just an E sound, receipt, receipt. This is the paper that you get when you go to the store.