Common Mistakes Part I

Most Common English Grammar Mistakes Part I

Über die Zeit hinweg sind mir in meinen Korrekturen von euren Arbeiten immer wieder ähnliche bzw. gleiche Fehler aufgefallen. Deshalb habe ich mir gedacht es könnte euch vielleicht helfen, wenn ich euch eine (natürlich unvollständige) Liste erstelle, wo ihr die häufigsten Schwachstellen von Schülerinnen und Schülern seht. Geht die Liste genau durch, immer wieder mit ein paar Wochen Abstand. Nach einiger Zeit habt ihr euch vielleicht sogar alle eingeprägt und dann seid ihr gut gerüstet für eure weiteren englischen Texte.

  • Who, which or that
    „Who“ (or „whom“) refers to persons. „Which“ refers to animals or things, never to persons. „That“ can refer to either persons or things.Examples of correct usage:The boy who was hungry.
    The dog which bit the mailman.
    The bus that goes to the station.
  • There, their, or they’re
    „There“ is used in two ways. It can specify a place. It can also be used as an ‚empty word‘ to start a sentence.“Their“ is used as a possessive form of „they.““They’re“ is short for „they are.“Examples:There are eight planets in the solar system.
    The two girls raced their bikes.
    They’re both tired after riding so far.
  • Its or It’s
    The possessive form of „it“ is „its,“ not „it’s.“ Use „it’s“ only when it means „it is.“Examples:It’s raining today.The dog wagged its tail.
  • „Lie“ vs. „Lay“
    Dear everyone, stop saying: „I’m going to go lay down.“ The word „lay“ must have an object. Someone lays something somewhere. You lie. Unless you lay, which means lie but in the past tense. Okay, just look at the chart.

    Present Past
    Lie Lie Lay
    Lay Lay Laid

    So, again: „Lay“ means „put down carefully“ or „put down flat“. This verb is always followed by an object. „Laying“ is the present participle. „Laid“ ist the past sipmple and  the past participle.
    „She laid the papers on the desk“.
    „Lie“ means „be in a horizontal position“ or „be in a particular place“. This verb is irregular and is never followed by an object. „Lying“ is the present participle. „Lay“ is the past simple and „lain“ is the past participle.

  • And to make matters even more complicated:
    „to lie“ can also mean „lügen“.  Past Tense „lied“, Past Participle „lied“.
  • „Then“ vs. „Than“
    There’s a simple distinction between these two words. Use „then“ when discussing time. As in, „We had a meeting, and then we went to lunch.“ Include „than“ in comparisons. „This meeting was more productive than the last one.“
  • „Your“ vs. „You’re“
    „Your“ means “belonging to you”. „You’re“ means “you are”. The simplest way to work out the correct one to use is to read out your sentence. For example, if you say “you’re jeans look nice” expand the apostrophe. The expanded sentence would read “you are jeans look nice” – obviously nonsensical. Remember, in English, the apostrophe often denotes an abbreviation (=Abkürzung).
  • Two / To / Too
    With a ‘w’ it means the number 2. With one ‘o’ it refers to direction: ‘to France’. With two ‘o’s it means “also” or refers to quantity (=Menge) – for example: “There is too much money”. A good way to remember this one is that too has two ‘o’s – ie, it has more ‘o’s than ‘to’ – therefore it refers to quantity.
  • Lose / Loose
    This one is quite complicated. „I’m wearing trousers that are too loose.“ = Ich trage Hosen die zu lose sind.
    Lose, on the other hand, relates to loss – for example: “I hope we don’t lose this game”. A good way to remember this is that in the word “lose” you have lost the second ‘o’ from loose. If you can’t remember a rule that simple, you are a loser!
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