Common Mistakes in English (1)

U Khin Maung (A retired diplomat)

1. Nobody is perfect. To err is human and to forgive is divine. In speaking or in writing, we may make mistakes especially in speaking or in writing English. English is now learnt by many foreigners, whose mother tongue is not English. English these days is an international language with more varied teaching materials now, English can also be used as a self-study language by students of English. In fact, learning is a never-ending process. Learning is a life-long process. No educative process is ever the end, it is always the beginning of more education, more learning more living.
Common Mistakes in English
2. Nobody is perfect. In other words, nobody is flawless or nobody’s English is utmost flawless. As a foreign student, my English is not free from mistakes despite the fact that I have been learning English, for quite some time. I am now in my 87th years of age. In a world-famous booklet, under the title of “Common Mistakes in English”, the author mentions it is not claimed that the manual is exhaustive. Nevertheless, the difficulties tackled are real and the examples and representative of the mistakes commonly made by foreign students of English, being the result of observations over a long period of time”.
3. In the contents of this booklet, the famous author has mentioned common mistakes in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. As an ordinary adult, I would like to quote only a few mistakes, just for lack of time and just not to exhaust or wear out the attention of the readers.
Misused forms
Using the wrong preposition
The following list includes the words which most often give trouble.
1. Absorbed (very much interested) in, not at.
Don’t say: The man was absorbed at his work.
Say: The man was absorbed in his work.
2. Accuse of, not for.
Don’t say: She accused the man for stealing.
Say: She accused the man of stealing.
Note: Charge takes with: The man was charged with murder.
3. Accustomed to, not with.
Don’t say: I’m accustomed with hot weather.
Say: I’m accustomed to hot weather.
Note: Also used to: He is used to the heat.
4. Afraid of, not from.
Don’t say: Laura is afraid from the dog.
Say: Laura is afraid of the dog.
5. Aim at, not on or against.
Don’t say: She aimed on (or against) the target.
Say: She aimed at the target.
Note: Use the preposition at to denote direction: throw at, shout at, fire at, shoot at. Shoot (without the at) means to kill: He shot a bird (= he hit and killed it).
6. Angry with, not against.
Don’t say: The teacher was angry against him.
Say: The teacher was angry with him.
Note 1: We get angry with a person but at a thing: He was angry at the weather (not: with the weather).
Note 2: Also annoyed with, vexed with, indignant with a person, but at a thing.
7. Anxious (= troubled) about, not for.
Don’s say: They’re anxious for his health.
Say: They’re anxious about his health.
Note: Anxious means wishing very much takes for. Parents are anxious for their children’s success.
8. Arrive at, not to.
Don’t say: We arrived to the village at night.
Say: We arrived at the village at night.
Note: Use arrive in with countries and large cities: Mr Smith has arrived in London. (or New York, India, etc.)
9. Ashamed of, not from.
Don’t say: He’s now ashamed from his conduct.
Say: He’s now ashamed of his conduct.
Note: It isn’t correct to use ashamed of meaning shy. Ashamed means feeling shame or guilt about something. Shy means feeling nervous with someone. Instead of saying: I’m ashamed (or shamed) of my teacher, say: I’m shy of my teacher.
10. Believe in, not to.
Don’t say: We believe to God.Say: We believe in God.
Note: To believe in means to have faith in. To believe (without the in) means to regard something as true: I believe everything he says.
1. Common Mistakes in English by T J Fitikides
2. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary International Student’s Edition.
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