Avoid Common English Language Mistakes
Interaction with students keeps bringing to my knowledge mistakes being committed in English language. In this blog I share some of these common mistakes to help them and others avoid make such mistakes.
Use of Articles
Use of ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ is atrocious by not only students, but also in news papers. ‘An’ is often not used before a singular, common noun starting with a vowel, (or having the sound of a vowel). Examples:
- ‘An year’ is wrongly written as ‘a year’
- ‘An hour’ is wrongly written as ‘a hour’
An funny common mistake is in the incorrect use of the definite article, ‘the’ before a proper noun. Example:
- “I told the Major Bhangu to do this” is incorrect. Correct sentence is, “ I told Major Bhangu to do this”
Since practically all my students are weak in the use of articles I request them all to read about this aspect and learn the proper use of articles.
Use of Apostrophe to Shorten Words
Most of my students use words like, ‘don’t’ and ‘can’t’ in their writing. They do not know that these words can only be used in direct speech only and not otherwise. To avoid making this mistake I request them to never use these words in writing, but use only the complete words, ‘do not’, ‘cannot’ and so on always.
Use of Full Stop
Sentences are separated by full stops. A comma cannot substitute a full stop. A semicolon can substitute a full stop. However, I recommend only using full stops and writing short sentences. In this way sentences are more likely to be correct.
Starting Sentences with Conjunctions- ‘And’ and ‘But’
Conjunctions are used to join sentences. It is not strictly incorrect to start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’. However, most of the times the usage of ‘and’ and ‘but’ to start a sentence is likely to be wrong. I request my students to never start a sentence with a conjunction and use it only to join words.
Capital Letters for Proper Nouns
It feels funny and irritating to be checking the mistake of writing proper nouns starting with a small letter by graduates and post graduates. However, it is a very common mistake of sheer casualness and makes a very poor impression on the reader. Examples:
India cannot be written as ‘india’ and China cannot be written as ‘china’.
Whenever we use Hindi words when writing in English we should use them in inverted commas. Such words cannot be used without using inverted commas. Example:
“Juggaad” is a Hindi word which does not have a good English substitute word.
I request my students to not make the mistakes discussed above. Such mistakes indicate a sense of casualness and irresponsibility apart from poor knowledge of English.