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Teacher Talk

Common Writing MISTAKES!




So many students are ashamed to show me their writing.  They turn red while I read what they write.  I can feel their pain and understand the embarrassment.  I want to point out some mistakes that are really common with students I've seen.

1.  Using the phrase "just so so".  For some reason this phrase is taught to students but I NEVER hear native speakers use it in speaking or writing.  I highly recommend never using it.  Instead, it's better to write, "It's ok" or "It's not bad". They mean the same thing but look native.

2.  Writing really long sentences.  Native writers make sentences short. 

"Our company policy promises a bright future for each of our employees who show the willingness and competence to rise above all challenges and meet the needs of our loyal customers".

There is nothing really "Wrong" with that sentence, but it is clearly not written by a native speaker.  There are too many needless words.  It is "redundant".  Redundant basically means saying the same thing more than once in a different way.  

A better sentence would be:

"Our company gives good financial compensation to our top employees".

3.  Direct translation from their own language. 

NEVER translate from your own language.  You need to read a lot of English written by native speakers if you want any chance of writing well.  Direct translation is a mess.  The more you read, the better you will write.  Just make sure you pay attention to new ways of writing.  Make sure you use what you learn.

If you want to learn more about real native English for both speaking and writing, go to Real Native English Lessons

These are great for both students and ESL teachers to use in the classroom.

11:58 AM Nov 17 2010 |

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Syrian Arab Republic

I like your post mr andy, thanks for the advice 

05:07 PM Nov 18 2010 |

charming princess

Saudi Arabia

Interesting. how can i know the different between a redundant long sentence and a complex good sentence? Sometimes I need to write a long sentence to make my writing good :)

10:57 PM Nov 18 2010 |


United States

Thanks Andy for cutting to the chase on avoiding common writing mistakes.  You come through with good information and I appreciate your efforts.  Iron sharpens iron and we all benefit!

07:15 AM Nov 21 2010 |



That is the key problem for all of second language learner

02:52 PM Nov 21 2010 |


El Salvador

this is one of the good ones! i enjoy reading in english because i know it is a way to improve my writing, speaking and  understanding. I might be wrong but somebody told me once: just read, read and read in english, it doesnt matter if you don't know how to pronounce some words but it will certainly help you a lot. Am I wrong???? Or am I right? I don't know. What I do KNow is that nowaday i'm now working for Dell El Salvador and dealing with native english customers have improve my understanding a lot !!!!!

08:58 PM Dec 04 2010 |


El Salvador

i know you are not asking me but i would like to answer your question too. Saying thanks a lot is an informal way of saying: Thank you very much. You say "Thanks a lot" to you friends. I mean you use "thanks a lot with people you know very well". But when you don't know someone well or is someone like your boss, you have to say "Thank you very much" because it is a formal way and by using this phrase you show a lot of Respect to people. Hope you enjoy learning english!

09:04 PM Dec 04 2010 |




thanks  andhy  , we realy  facing  those  mistiakes , the  most  mistakes  i  uesd  to  face  it  the  last  one 


01:44 PM Dec 23 2010 |




i often find my friends using 'just so so' either in writing or speaking, i thought it was a slang or informal language for friends n it was ok to say it. now i know it's not.so, thank u for the writing, 

06:13 PM Jan 12 2011 |