It’s the common mistakes that really get us down…If only we could remember everything we know all the time, life would be a lot easier! We’d never forget a friend’s birthday, or be stuck in an exam, and you’d make fewer of those small, but annoying, mistakes you always seem to make when speaking English!!
Let’s be clear, though. Making mistakes is part of the language learning process and nothing to be embarrassed about. That said, nobody wants to make the same common mistakes over and over and over again.
In an attempt to help you, then, here are 5 of the most common mistakes Spanish speakers of all levels make when speaking English. They’re probably things you know, but if you can actually stop making these 5 common mistakes, your English will improve a lot!
1. People is
The word people is the plural of person, and so it should take the third person s. It’s not
people is, people does and people goes, it’s people are, people do and people go.
Here’s an extra tip – yes, the word persons does exist, but 99.99% of the time is not the word you want. It’s one person, but two people.
2. The university.
You don’t go to
X I went to the university, but my brother didn’t.
X She’s going to the university in September.
The word university is only preceded by the definite article, the when we use the construction The University of _________. As in, I went to The University of Manchester or I’m at The University of Auckland.
At all other times, there is no the.
I went to university, but my brother didn’t.
She’s going to university in September.
He went to Cambridge University
The same is true of the word school. We don’t use the.
X When I was at the school, I hated it.
When I was at school, I hated it.
3. I’m studying a career
Staying with university, when you’re a student, you do a degree.
I’m doing a degree in Biology.
She did a Law degree.
You do not
do a career, which is a bad translation of carrera. A career is the series of jobs that you do over a number of years, often in one area.
She’s hoping to have a career in the police force.
After a long and successful career, he’s retiring next week.
4. She told me if I can help her.
We don’t use the verb tell when you are describing, or reporting a question that someone asked you. Use the verb ask.
X She told me if I can help her.
She asked me if I can help her.
5. I went with my couple.
No, you didn’t go with your
couple. You went with your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife or (if you want to be more mysterious and less precise), your partner.
I need to speak to my partner first.
The word couple refers to two things together.
I need a couple of onions for this recipe.
I’ll see you in a couple of minutes.
So, you and your significant other are a couple – the two of you, together.
We’ve been a couple for six months.
They’re so cute! They make a lovely couple.
So, how many of these mistakes do you think you make? What other things that you know do you always seem to get wrong when you open your mouth and start speaking English? Let us know in the comments below!