75 Common English Errors You Should Avoid in 2019 and beyond

Tamuno Reuben Posted by
December 27, 2018
These are common errors made by second learners of English, especially Nigerian speakers of the English Language. It is also important to state that no one is immune to making errors when learning, writing or speaking the English language, but you should always ensure that you don't repeat the following errors after learning their correct forms:
75 Common English Errors You Should Avoid in 2019 and beyond

1. Don't Say: You're taking it personal. Say: You're taking it personally.

Reason: "Personal" is an adjective, so it can't qualify or modify the verb "taking" in the sentence. "Personally" is in the right position to do so since it is an adverb. An adverb modifies a verbs, adjectives and fellow adverbs.

2. Don't Say: The reason is because... Say: The reason is that... Or Say: It is because... (depending on the sentence structure).

Reason: "Because" is used to state a reason or cause. Therefore, placing both words together is somewhat tautological.

3. Don't Say: Get my stuffs ready. Say: Get my stuff ready (regardless of the number).

Reason: Like "luggage", the word "stuff" does not take a plural marker. It remains "stuff" irrespective of the number.

4. Don't ever use "severally" to mean "several times" because both words are semantically different. Whereas ‘several times means ‘many times’, ‘severally means ‘individually’ or ‘separately’.

5. Don't say: My names are... Say: My name is...

Reason: The number of words in your name collectively projects your identity whether your name has three or more words. If you can't say, ‘The titles of the book ARE The English language in Nigeria’, you shouldn't say, ‘My names ARE Tammy Trust Reuben.’ Just like the name of a person, the title of a book consists of several words, but we don't pluralize the title of a book because of the number of words it is made up of. We usually say, ‘The title of the book is...’ Professionally, we say it is a singular noun phrase or a collective noun hence doesn't need a plural verb.

Here is another way to look at its usage. Can you say, ‘Tammy Trust Reuben ARE the owner of the car’? No! This is because Tammy Trust Reuben refers to one person despite the number of words that make up the name. But you can confidently say, ‘Tammy Trust Reuben IS the owner of the car.’ Therefore, it should be "my name is...", not otherwise.

6. Don't Say: There is no two ways about it. Say: There are no two ways about it.

Reason: A plural noun should take a plural verb. Therefore, "two ways" should take ‘are’, not ‘is’.

7. When travelling by bus, Say: I'm on the bus. Don't Say: I'm in the bus. Click here to read the reason.

8. Don't Say: Lacking behind. Say: Lagging behind.

Reason: "lacking behind" is the Nigerian version of the standard expression, "lagging behind".

9. Don't say: Crack your brain. Say: Wrack/Rack your brain.

Reason: Your brain is not a wall.

10. Don't say: Don't repeat that again. Say: Don't repeat that.

Reason: The use of ‘repeat’ and ‘again’ makes the sentence somewhat tautological.

11. Don't say: The book comprises of three chapters. Say: The book comprises three chapters. Or Say: The book is comprised of three chapters.

Reason: Unlike ‘consist’, ‘comprise’ does not collocate with the preposition ‘of’. However, there is an exception to this rule. When ‘comprise’ takes its past participle form as a result of   a BE-verb preceding it, it can collocate with the preposition ‘of’. The "be" verb has eight variants: be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been. Therefore, we can also say, ‘The books are comprised of...’, ‘The books were comprised of...’ and so on. Once you take any of these eight variants and place it before the verb, ‘comprise’, you get ‘comprised’, which can collocate with ‘of’, thereby giving you ‘comprised of’. This is the only exception.

12. Don't say: I forgot my phone at home. Say: I left my phone at home.

Reason: When you use the verb "forget", you don't state the place where you left the item.

13. Don't say: Letterhead paper. Say: Letterhead.

Reason: One of the definitions of letterhead is ‘a paper marked with letterhead.’ Therefore, adding ‘paper’ to the word ‘letterhead’ is a needless repetition.

14. Don't say: I have a running nose. Say: I have a runny nose.
Reason: As regards this, ‘runny’ is the correct adjective, not ‘running’. Moreover, your nose is not an athlete. Lol!

15. Did you know that the word ‘copious’ has nothing to do with ‘copy’? ‘Copious’ means vast in quantity, e.g., copious examples. English can be crazy at times.

16. Don't Say: ATM Machine, GTB Bank, PIN Number, BVN Number etc. Say: ATM, GTB, PIN, BVN etc.

Reason: The last word in each of these abbreviations is a reduplication of the final letter in each of the abbreviations. For example, "ATM Machine" can be rewritten as "Automated Teller Machine Machine".

17. The principal invited my friend and ...... to his office.
(a) I (correct)
(b) Me (wrong)

Reason: You use ‘me’ if the nouns/pronouns can be replaced with ‘us’ whereas you use ‘I’ if they can be replaced with ‘we’.

Now let's analyse the sentence: ‘The principal invited my friend and ME to his office.’

The above sentence can as well be written as: ‘The principal invited US to his office.’

You can see that ‘my friend’ and ‘me’ have been replaced with ‘us’ without altering the grammaticality or meaning of the sentence. You can't say, ‘The principal invited WE to his office’ because ‘we’ cannot replace ‘my friend’ and ‘me’.  It can only replace ‘my friend’ and ‘I’.

You can also get the right pronoun to use by looking at the sentence from this angle. Can you say, ‘The principal invited I to his office’ if you remove ‘my friend and’ from the sentence? The answer is NO. But you can say, ‘The principal invited ME to his office’ if you delete ‘my friend and’ from the sentence. Therefore, ‘me’ is the correct option!

18. Please, note that you don't ‘WRECK HAVOC’. You WREAK HAVOC.

19. Don’t Say: Heavy Downpour. Just Say: Downpour.

‘Downpour’ already means ‘a heavy rain’. Therefore, it is unnecessary to describe it with "heavy".

20. The word is CAPSIZE, not CAPSIDE. Are you still wondering? I mean a boat does not CAPSIDE, but CAPSIZES.

21. When you are getting fatter, you are GAINING WEIGHT, not ADDING WEIGHT. ‘Adding weight’ does not mean getting fatter.

22.     I don't like her, TALK LESS OF making friends with her. (Wrong)
I don't like her, LET ALONE/MUCH LESS making friends with her. (Correct)

Avoid the use of ‘Talk less of’.

23. How have you been saying this?
As at when due. (Wrong)
As and when due. (Correct)

24. Don't Say: ‘Should in case...’ Either Say: ‘Should’ or ‘In case’
Example: Should it rain.../In case it rains...

Not: Should in case it rains...

25.     Who is fooling WHO? (Wrong)
Who is fooling WHOM? (Correct)

Use ‘who’ if it can be replaced with ‘he/she/they’. And use ‘whom’ if it can be replaced with ‘him/her/them’. ‘Who is fooling whom’ is correct because the sentence can be rewritten as ‘Who is fooling him/her/them?’

26. Which is your school of thought?
Pump and plain. (Wrong)
Prompt and plain. (Correct)
27. Don't Say: I ‘intentionally pretended’ I didn't see him. Say: I pretended I didn't see him.

Reason: ‘Pretence’ is something that is done intentionally.

28. Have you ever wondered why your meals are always not tasty? You've been making use of ‘GROUNDED PEPPER’ instead of ‘GROUND PEPPER’. Always say, ‘Ground pepper’.

29.     Police IS your friend. (Wrong)
          Police ARE your friends. (Correct)
          The policeman is my friend. (Correct)

30. Next time, Say: It slipped/escaped my mind. Don't Say: It skipped my mind.

31.     A European. (Correct)
          An European. (Wrong)

32. Dear choristers, is it "The most Excellency is Jesus..." or "The most excellent king is Jesus..."? Please, the latter is very correct.

33. I hear most people sing, "I searched all over; I COULDN'T find NOBODY..." This means you found someone. Always avoid the use of double negatives in English. Say: ‘...I could find nobody...’ or ‘...I couldn’t find anybody...’

34. If you're educated but still pronounce or spell FORK as "FERK", you are not ignorant. You are absolutely corrupt. The word, ‘fork’, is pronounced as spelt. So, clear your negative thoughts. Lol!

35. Don't Say: I have rang the bell.  Say: I have rung the bell.

Always use the past participle of the main verb after the auxiliary verb, ‘have’.

36. Don't Say: I was OPPORTUNED to meet him in person. Say: I had an opportunity to meet him in person. ‘Opportune’ is not a verb. It is an adjective. 

37. Don't Say: The President CASTED his vote yesterday. Say: The President CAST his vote yesterday. ‘Cast’ is an irregular verb. Irregular verbs are verbs that do not form their past and past participle forms with the addition of ‘d’, ‘ed’, ‘ied’ and ‘t’.

38. You apportion BLAME, not 'blames'. 'Blame', in this regard, is an uncountable noun; thus, it does not accept a plural marker.

39. ‘It's a shame’ doesn't mean ‘you should feel embarrassed or ashamed over something.’ It simply means ‘It's unfortunate.’ For example: It’s a shame you lost your purse.

40. The man is cunning, not CUNNY; he takes things (too) seriously, not (too) SERIOUS. Learn to use these words correctly!

41. A student who is about to graduate or receive a degree is called a GRADUAND, not a "GRADUANT."

42. Which have you been saying?

43. Say: ‘On a platter’ or ‘On a silver platter.’ Don't Say: On a platter of gold.

Example: Tammy got his admission on a (silver) platter.

44. Did you know that the letter 'f' in 'OF' is pronounced /v/, not /f/? Yes! This simply means that 'OF' is pronounced /ov/, not the way it is spelt.

45. How have you been writing this?
In other to (Wrong)
In order to (Correct)

Example: "I teach people in order to learn."

46. Please, note that ‘fiancé’ and ‘fiancée’ are pronounced the same way: /fi-on-say/ or /fi-an-say/.

47. How have you been writing this?
Inspite of (Wrong)
In spite of (Correct)

48. Do you use "wicked" as a verb? For example, ‘You like to wicked someone. If you wicked me, I will wicked you.’ Please, STOP IT.

49. Your smartphone has a TOUCHSCREEN, not a ‘SCREEN TOUCH’. Stop saying ‘SCREEN TOUCH’.

50. Father, may affliction never rise up the second time in the mouths of those who still make use of this expression: ‘She/He is jealousing me.’ LOL!

51. ‘Delve’ is the appropriate term, not ‘dive.’ You don't DIVE into an issue or a topic (of discussion); you DELVE into it.

52. If you still make ends meet in spite of the hardship caressing the country,
Say: I am surviving.

Don't Say: I am managing.

53. Never spell ‘Good luck’ as ‘Goodluck’ except you are referring to the former President of Nigeria.

54. Did you know that the correct idiom is, ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know’? There is no "angel" in this idiom.

(Never) bite more than you can chew. (Wrong)

(Never) bite off more than you can chew. (Correct)

56. You don't WET your appetite; you WHET it.

Both words have the same sound but different meanings and spellings. Take note of this when you write.

57. To ask someone who is upset to calm down,
Say: Pull yourself together.

Don't Say: Put yourself together.

58. This is Nigeria where someone can rain insults on you for saying they are LOCAL. Please, note that "LOCAL" is not an insulting word.

59. As a student, 
Don't Say: I'm running an MA or a PhD programme.

Say: I (am) enrolled in an MA or a PhD programme.

60. Don't say ‘The shirt/trousers is BOGUS’ except it is fake. ‘BOGUS’ does not mean ‘oversize’; it means fake or counterfeit.

61. As a student, you don't OFFER a course; you TAKE a course. It is your institution that OFFERS a course.

62. Before you ask someone to shut up, try to know the difference between QUIET and QUITE! It is 'Keep QUIET’, not 'Keep QUITE.'

63. The rectangular metal plates bearing an alphanumeric code, fixed to the front and rear of motor car to show its identity as registered with the DVLA is called a NUMBER PLATE/LICENSE PLATE, not a PLATE NUMBER.

64. How have you been writing these words?
Continuous (Correct)
Continous (Wrong)
Pronunciation (Correct)
Proounciation (Wrong)
A lot (Correct)
Alot (Wrong)
At least (Correct)
Atleast (Wrong)

65. A herbalist isn’t the same thing as a ‘native doctor’ or ‘babalawo’. In English, a ‘native doctor’ or ‘babalawo’ is called a witch doctor, not a herbalist.

66. Always know that ‘teeth’ is the plural form of ‘tooth’.
          Your teeth IS dirty. (Wrong)
          Your teeth ARE dirty. (Correct)
          Your tooth IS dirty. (Correct)

67. The word is EMACIATE(D), not ‘maciate/mashirt’. I mean when someone is extremely thin and weak because of illness or lack of food.

68. How have you been writing this?
          Complements of the season. (Wrong)
          Compliments of the season. (Correct)

69. The plural form of ‘sister-in-law’ is ‘sisters-in-law’, not ‘sister-in-laws’.

70. Did you know that only the buyer is called ‘a customer’ in Standard English? Therefore, it is wrong to call the seller ‘a customer’.

71. You scratch your body because it itches, not the other way round. Therefore, stop saying ‘My body is scratching me.’

72. The flat scoop with a short handle (in your house), into which dust, dirt and other materials is conveyed with a brush or broom is called a dustpan, not a ‘parker, or ‘dirty parker’.

73. A child’s doll designed to look like a baby is called a baby doll, not ‘don baby’, ‘doll/dull baby’ or ‘tom baby’.

74. Don’t Say: The job is tasking. Say: The job is taxing.

75. Before you call someone a ‘tout’, first check the meaning of lout. You might be using them interchangeably.
  1. The use of
    In case
    In case of
    They have different semantic meanings. Please, do more research and effect necessary corrections. Nice job sire