Common Grammar Mistakes in English

5 Common Grammar Mistakes Intermediate English Speakers Make


In this article you’re going to see a list of some of the most common mistakes I see intermediate and even sometimes advanced English speakers make both in writing and speaking.

Making mistakes is great as long as you can learn from them, but sometimes you might even not be aware you’re making a mistake.

With this article you’ll reconnect with the practice of learning from your mistakes as I’ll show you how to properly use some of the structures that might be giving you a hard time.

Also, you’ll find out about some of those mistakes you don’t even know you’re making!

This article is especially useful for intermediate and even low advanced English speakers. We will work to keep those mistakes from fossilizing in your way of speaking.

1. Articles Before the Possessive S

You can use articles (the – a/an) before a noun with a possessive S, as in:

> The world’s best athletes met in Rio 2016.
> A man‘s brain is different from a woman‘s.

However, you can’t use articles when the possessive s modifies a proper noun (i.e. a person’s name). This is the mistake many make.

> I drove the John’s car.


See below another recurring mistake relating the possessive s:

> John’s and Sarah’s car. (incorrect)
> John and Sarah’s car. (correct)
> Matt’s and Nick’s project. (incorrect)
> Matt and Nick’s project. (correct)

On the other hand, the grammar of the following structure isn’t so much a recurring mistake, but rather a pattern that’s avoided because of it’s difficulty.

> Andrew‘s dog is a Labrador, what’s Emma‘s?

What’s Emma’s? refers to what breed Emma’s dog is, but you don’t need to repeat dog since it’s already been mentioned. This is called ellipsis, the omission of unnecessary or redundant words. Another example:

> Stephan‘s learning style is not the same as Tim‘s.

Being able to speak sentences like these without even thinking will add a lot to your fluency.

2. Misplacing “to”

“Not to want to do something” is correct, but “to don’t want to do it” is not.

On the other hand, although “to not want to do something” is correct, it is not as common as to “not to want to do something.” Whenever you’re confused which form to use, thinking of Shakespeare’s famous quote will probably help:

“To be or not to be…

Consider how it would have sounded if he had said to be or to not be.

Going back to the faulty “to don’t…” here are some more examples to compare:


Another common grammar structure with ‘to‘ intermediate as well as advanced speaker have a hard time using is the following:

> She didn’t come home at the time her parents told her to.
> I didn’t go because I didn’t want to.

you may also like read: Common Mistakes in English

The mistake you might be making is either omitting “to” completely or repeating a verb within the same sentence.

> She didn’t come home at the time her parents told her. (‘to’ is missing)
> I didn’t go because I didn’t want to go. (‘go’ should have been omitted)

3. Indirect and Reported Questions

This is a direct question:

> What’s the time?

This is an indirect Continue reading

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