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How to avoid making mistakes in English

How to avoid making mistakes in English

Date: Sep 24 2007

Topic: Grammar

Author: shanker


peace be upon you

How to avoid making mistakes in English

Learners make mistakes and reinforce them because they produce sentences 1) too carelessly or 2) too early. You will avoid mistakes if you follow a couple of rules:

Rules of error-free speaking and writing

1- Use simple language. Some beginners try to build very complicated sentences with things like the present perfect tense or conditionals. They make horrible mistakes. Don't do this! If you've just started to speak or write in English, you should say what you can say (simple sentences that you have seen many times) - not what you want to say (complicated sentences). You may feel you're talking like a child or that you are not expressing your thoughts, but don't worry about it. Right now, your task is not to express your thoughts freely; your task is to learn the language.

2- Be slow and careful. In the beginning, you should write very slowly. If you need 2 hours to write an e-mail message with 10 correct sentences, that's okay. That's how long it should take if you're just starting to write.
Why should it take so long? Because you should read your sentences many times, looking for mistakes. You should correct your own sentences frequently. You should check if your sentences are correct by using a dictionary and the Web. And you should look for example sentences to imitate.
When you're speaking, it's okay to build a sentence for some time in your head before you open your mouth.

3- If you're not sure how to say something, don't say it. If you can't say something correctly, it's almost always better not to say it. You don't want to teach yourself the wrong way to say it. You can try to look for the correct sentence in a dictionary or on the Web (see next point), but when speaking, usually you don't have time for that. So it's a good idea to say something else - something that you know is correct. It can even be something on a different subject.

4- When writing, always look things up. Whenever you're not sure how to use a word, look it up in a good dictionary to find example sentences with it. When you've written something, and you are not sure if it's correct, search for it on the Web with Google. If many pages contain your phrase, then it is probably correct. Dictionaries and Google should be your everyday tools, and you should use them even many times in one sentence (especially if you've just begun writing in English). See this forum topic for more information on using Google when writing .

5- Know where you can screw up. Sometimes learners don't even realize how different English is from their native language. When speaking, they translate word for word from their native language, and they think their sentences are okay.

When reading or listening in English, pay close attention to things like word order, articles, prepositions, and tenses. Compare sentences in English with equivalent sentences in your native language. Notice the differences in words and in word order. This will make you more careful when speaking in the foreign language, because you will realize which parts of your sentences can be wrong and should be double-checked .

"Will I ever be fluent if I speak so slowly and carefully?"
Don't worry about fluency. Fluency is easy to achieve by simply talking. If you practice speaking, you will be able to speak faster and faster. In high school, Tom achieved pretty good fluency in a month by talking to his English teacher (a native speaker) about two hours a week. That's only 8 hours of talking.

In our opinion, it is much better to be slow and correct than be fluent and make a lot of mistakes. Why? Because if you are slow and correct, you can easily improve your speed and become fluent and correct. But if you are fluent and make a lot of mistakes, it is not so easy to remove your mistakes and become fluent and correct

Don't speak or write too early

If you follow the above rules and still make a lot of mistakes when speaking (= more than 1 mistake every 3 sentences), you should probably switch to writing for a while. Consider the following guidelines:

* First write, then speak. Writing is easier than speaking because:
1) you don't need to have good pronunciation (but you need good spelling),
2) you can write very slowly and nobody will mind,
3) you can use dictionaries, the Web, etc. So, it's a good idea to practice writing first until you can build correct sentences quickly enough for speaking.

* Don't speak until you've learned to pronounce English sounds. You need to be able to pronounce all the English vowels and consonants in a clear way before you speak. If you don't, you will get used to bad pronunciation.

* Don't say a word if you don't know how to pronounce it. In other words, you need to know the pronunciation of all the words that you use. If you don't, you will be making pronunciation mistakes and teaching yourself bad habits.

If you make more than 1 mistake every 3 sentences when writing in the slow and careful way described above, you should probably stop writing for some time and concentrate on reading and listening.

Remember that you should first get lots of English sentences into your head, then build your own sentences. Your main activity should be reading and listening to English - and the reason is that you need good examples to follow before you can build your own sentences. The more sentences your brain absorbs, the more you can express in English. If you don't see/hear enough correct, natural English sentences, you will not know how to say things in English. So you will be inventing your own language. And you will be making mistakes.



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Iran, Islamic Republic Of

wow thank you so much for the advices.actually when i wanna write something like a message i try to use mostly expressions though i feel like i forget everything and i think to have a mistakeless content i must use the propper tenses. i am not a beginner but my maistakes make me lose my confedence and feel like i can never be like a native speaker with these weird mistakes.:(

07:18 AM Oct 16 2014 |



thank u so much for your advising really you are right and i will try to applicate this rules.but my problem is i need to communicate with athers for improving my english pronunciation.and i like comunicate more than writting.i fell very happy if i speak bcz just am using simp sentence and simple language and i did not care to mistake .using  informal lang the imprtant is the messag are delivery and the athers understand u .again thx for advisinga

08:59 PM Oct 15 2014 |



Russian Federation

Thank you for advises. I will try to follow them to improve my English and to reduce mistakes in it.

05:23 AM Aug 09 2013 |




I think the more you practice the better you will get,right?Maybe you should find a partner who can practice English with you.

02:58 PM Sep 13 2012 |



wow great tips

thanxxxx a lot

05:32 AM Sep 13 2012 |




wow, it’s good article and help refresh my mind, really thank you friend. I will follow your advice, take care, thanks!

02:19 AM Dec 27 2011 |



I have join new student in your baby english, i studied more word above if then more confusion is rolling in my mind, i tries many time to speak english but i can’t do it and i tries many times write correct egnlish but it’s not simple way if i have regester baby english to improve my english, i hopes form everybody to learnt influence english  

09:52 AM Dec 26 2011 |



Really is a long article,i have read it careful,really it’s helpful for fresh english learners,at least for me ,i m definitely a new guy in english learing,from my point of view,for reduce the mistaks in english when you speaking and writting,you have to reading so much and create some useful sentense in your mind, as for me ,i blurt out some usefull sentense in moring everyday,but just sometime cause my work really busy ,so can not insist,i will improve it in future , i think it’s really usefull for imporing your oral english,some one told me ,if you want to speak english fluently ,you have to chatting at least more than 500 hours, really it’s hard for some people who have no the enviroment to practise english,but for some international company employee can speak english with foreigner everday ,so maybe it’s more easy to speak more than 500 hours in short time.so as for me , i find some foreign friend form skype and msn and invite them as my friend,i will talking with them when i have some time,even though my english is not good ,but i know that ,open my mouth it’s very important for improving my english and also at the very begging,i have to speak just some simple sentense which some simple vocabularies,i believe that ,i will speak prefect english in some time later.

10:45 AM Nov 15 2011 |

1 person likes this

ahmed tito

ahmed tito


it is very nice

10:40 PM Nov 14 2011 |


United States

The main thing is to identify your goal and work to achieve it by reading, writing, speaking and thinking in English.  Avoid the fear of failure, “the door of success is entered through the hallway of failure!”

Very good information!




What a wonderful and useful lesson! Thank you very much Smile

07:54 AM Nov 09 2011 |



I think those were good thoughts but still going for it and trying might make your English better but by thinking too much about what you say may hinder your ability to communicate with the target language. However I believe mistakes will eliminate themselves eventually.

07:21 PM Oct 16 2011 |



Anyway,really thanks for your good advise and idears,i m definitely a fresh learner here,many mistakes above i have ,so i have to try to change some methods of myself,some one told me ,learing english,need not care more about grammar,actually,i m also don’t like grammar,even though i have learning many years grammar ,but i still can not speak prefect english,so for now ,i give up grammar ,just hearing and speaking with my friend via english,i m looking for a new job in international company to get the practise environment,so i will follow the advises above to improve my english skill,especail my oral skill,i have a lot of confidence,i believe if i insist to practise ,i m surely successed so long as my hard work enough.

03:21 AM Oct 13 2011 |


arudenSuper Member!

United States

Great lesson. I think you provide some really great advice.

I’ve always thought it would be better to try speaking even if you don’t know for sure if it’s correct. You might make some (or a lot of) mistakes but at least you are trying. It’s in the doing and experiencing that we learn the quickest. Also, if you waited until you had perfect pronunciation then you might keep yourself from progressing. It is definitely best to learn correct pronunciation as well as you can in the beginning but it is definitely possible to correct later, it just takes training and practice.

Thanks again for the great lesson! 

12:50 AM Oct 13 2011 |

1 person likes this



Saudi Arabia

peace be upon you thank you so much for your adviceand bay the way nice picture ’ love Shahrukh Khan”

12:40 PM Jun 30 2011 |




I like it.It’s useful.Thank you.

10:41 AM Jun 30 2011 |



thank you very much about the goldn advise , you look like tolking over me ,

i will keep this advise in my mind 

09:55 PM Feb 24 2011 |




We can also talk to ourselves. For example, when reading a grammar book we can use the rule we learn at the moment for practice – make our own sentences with this rule and speak. Many many sentence. Simple but correct. That's not a new idea, but it appeared in my head yesterday. That's what I do – sitting with a grammar book and talking to myself… :)

07:07 AM Feb 23 2011 |



It is so nice process for nice English Vocabulary .

05:52 AM Feb 23 2011 |



The subject is important , Many thanks 

04:15 AM Feb 23 2011 |

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