6 common mistakes in English … that are easy to correct!

Learning a language is a gradual process.  The best way to do this successfully is to establish a strong base and then to build step by step on this base.  The problem is that many students make mistakes without realizing it.  This is a list of six of the most common mistakes that students make without realizing it.


#1 MISTAKE: I am agree

Students often translate Estic d’acord/Estoy de acuerdo into English directly, but this is incorrect.  The correct form is:

I agree

(Technically you could say “I am in agreement” but it sounds strange)

For example:

Estic d’acord amb tu / Estoy de acuerdo contigo

I agree with you


#2 MISTAKE: Say me

There are two possible ways to translate dir / decir into English…”to say” or “to tell.” It depends on the sentence, but of these two, “to tell” is much more common. Students often translate these verbs into English using “to say” because this is usually the first form that they learn.  In this case, however, the correct form is:

Tell me

(Technically to say to me would also be correct but it sounds too formal)

For example:

Digues-me / Dime

Tell me


#3 MISTAKE: to take a coffee

This is a direct translation from pendre un café/tomar un café.  The English equivalent uses the verb, “to have.”  The correct form is:

To have a coffee 

For example:

Vols pendre un café? / ¿Quieres tomar un café?

Do you want to have a coffee?    


#4 MISTAKE: People is…

This mistake is caused by direct translation.  In Catalan and in Castilian, “people” is singular.  In English is it plural.  The correct form is:

People are

For example:

La gent és estranya / La gente es rara

People are strange


MISTAKE #5: I can to go

“Can” is a defective verb and defective verbs are used like auxiliaries.  They are followed by the verb (go) and not the infinitive (to go).  The same is true of “must.”  The correct form is:

I can go

For example:

Podem anar al cine la setmana que ve / Podemos ir al cine la semana que viene

We can go to the movies next week


#6 MISTAKE: Is important

In English you must use the subject with the verb.  In Catalan and Spanish it is possible to omit the subject but in English it is not.  The correct form is:

It’s important

(Technically it is possible to say, “It is,” but the contracted form is much more common)

For example:

És important estudiar / Es importante estudiar

It is important to study

Written by Mike Dean Alger for Aston School