Here are some of the English errors new writers and students often come across. English is a difficult language to learn if you don’t put your mind to it. However, by working hard and putting efforts, you can improve very well. Read these common errors, and let me know your ideas, suggestions, and doubts if any.
- When we talk about uncountable nouns, use singular verb. For example:
“The sceneries in Kerala are very nice.” This is a wrong sentence. It should be: “The scenery in Kerala is very good.”
Just like this, always use these words in singular form only: furniture, news, trouble, poor, the blind, baggage, luggage, poetry, female, etc. The list can be quite expansive. Here are some example sentences:
The old furniture in the home was to be removed.
You should take trouble to bring her home.
He feeds the poor on his birthday every year.
The baggage contained nothing suspicious.
- Noun Agreement: Noun always agrees with the verb. This means, a singular noun takes a singular verb and plural one takes plural. Here are some tips. When we use terms like each, every, any, much, etc., we have to use singular verbs. These elements make the nouns they modify singular. For instance:
Each of the students has to pass the eligibility exam.
Much of the wine was drunk on the way.
But the words like all, many, etc., use plural agreement:
Many people are attending the meeting.
All students have submitted the report.
- I or Me, which is correct? We say usually, “Hey, it’s me!” Though in colloquial sense this is perfectly acceptable, the correct usage is “Hey, it’s I!” (when I is the subject) You know why? Consider this:
When we refer to somebody, we say, “It’s she” (subjective form) not “It’s her” (objective). But there is a particular situation when it is correct to use “It’s her.” When?
“Whom did he hurt?”
“It’s her” or “It’s me” In this situation, the objective sense is required. Hence, the sentences are correct.
See the difference? When the object of hurt is asked for, we give it through the sentence, “It’s me” but when you are the subject yourself, you have to say, “It’s I”
“Who is it?”
This confusion arises mainly because the statement using proper nouns (Tim, Jack, Sarah, etc.,) do not have any issue with this. And the sentences with third person pronouns are usually not incorrectly used (we may not say “It’s her”). But when we use first person, the mistake arises due to the colloquial overuse of “It’s me.” But you have to understand the special situation when “It’s me” is correct. At all times, it should be “It’s I.”
- Esq.: Do not use Mr. Jean Jorge, Esq. Always use Mr. Jean Jorge or Jean Jorge, Esq. This is overuse as Esq. and Mr. mean almost the same.
- Avoid usages like these. See the correct usages.
He is very generous enough to visit me – He is generous enough to visit me.
Joe asked did we go to the movie – Joe asked if we went for the movie.
Much people were present – Many people were present.
This is a worth watching movie – This is a movie worth watching.
These all students passed – All these students passed.
Sue had no any troubles – Sue had no troubles. Or Sue hadn’t any troubles.
None of the apples were ripe – None of the apples was ripe.
- The last one above (Negatives): The negatives should always be expressed in singular form. When we use negatives, there are not many things to consider to use a plural verb. There is not even a single thing to put even a singular verb. So, if we had anything of lower status than singular verb that is applicable to negatives. However, since we don’t have any such thing, we stick to singular verbs, and plural cannot even be considered.
None of the students has failed the exam.
Not a thing was said in the interview.
Nothing was there in his room.
Instead of sentences like “All people didn’t go,” use “No one went.”
The tip is to avoid using ‘not’ as much as possible. Instead of ‘not’ try to use words like ‘never’, ‘none’, ‘no one’, ‘nothing’, etc.
These are some of the commonest mistakes in English. I will have more of this in the coming posts. Thanks for reading the post, and please join the comments section in the blog to tell me your opinions. Since this is a quick post, I couldn’t include much of the information I planned to include. If you find errors, please let me know. (Reminding my readers that I can be a very lousy editor.)
Please find my more recent post on English Peeves, I hate (the errors in language to be avoided).
Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008