Improve English & Avoid Common English Mistakes

Improve English & Avoid Common English Mistakes

Every day I read the Times of India and read written work submitted by one/more students. I note common English mistakes. Our education system, the culture and popularity of email language and casual approach of the youth have contributed to the degradation of English used. To help my students in particular and readers of my blogs in general I have written this blog, “Improve English & Avoid Common English Mistakes.”

Avoid Common English Mistakes

  • Use of Apostrophe to Denote Missing Letter. Examples: “Don’t”, “doesn’t”. Such words can be used only in spoken language, or when depicting spoken words expressed in inverted commas. To avoid getting confused just observe a simple rule- Never write such words.
  • Use of Apostrophe to Denote Possessive Singular/Plural. It is quite a common mistake to omit the apostrophe “s”. Examples of correct usage are:
    • Ram’s book.
    • Students’ association.
  • Use of Capital Letter. Capital letter is mandatory to start a sentence. A capital letter cannot be used in words in the middle of a sentence, unless it is a proper noun.
  • Use of Articles. “The” and “a/an” are articles. “A/an” is an indefinite article and “the” is the definite article. Examples:
    • A book.
    • The Gita.
    • An apple.
    • An hour (the sound after the article is of a vowel).
    • An year (the sound after the article is of a vowel).
    • A European country (the sound after the article is of a consonant).
  • Alternate/Alternative. Often students tend to use the word alternate, which means “every other, or every second”, when they mean “alternative”, that means “available as another choice”. Examples:
    • This is an alternative plan.
    • The sum of alternate angles is equal to 180 degrees.
  • Lose/Loose. You ‘lose’ something when you are unable to find it. When you ‘loosen’ the knot it is no longer tight. Lose and loose are absolutely different words.
  • Then/Than. “Then” means after and “than” is used to compare. These are very different words.


Tips to Improve English

  • Write short sentences.
  • Write in the past tense.
  • Avoid using difficult words.
  • Never start a sentence with a conjunction.
  • Write non English words in inverted commas. Example: “Vyapam”.
  • Whenever in doubt about correctness of a sentence, try to use the full stop at the earliest and make two sentences. Writing long sentences does not help to compress thoughts. It is a misconception.


I hope this article will be useful for my students: “Improve English & Avoid Common English Mistakes”. Please share it with friends!


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