Fluent English speaking is not a trait that comes to many people in the world. Even native speakers cannot claim perfection as they tend to mix up phrases, confuse verbs, use slangs, and accentuate their own dialects (Irish, Welsh etc) so that the end result is seemingly incomprehensible for speakers in other parts of the world. However, if you are a tyro to the English language, or even a native speaker, there are some common English speaking mistakes that you can avoid in daily conversations. This will ensure you don’t end up with awkward phrasing and a potentially embarrassing situation for yourself:
Mixing up the tenses
There are many people who tend to use the incorrect tense in a sentence.
E.g. I didn’t said he can come to the party (incorrect)
I didn’t say he can come to the party (correct)
Using said, a past tense verb, after didn’t is wrong.
Using a double negative
Let this form of speech remain restricted to rappers and the Afro community. Anyone else doing the same looks stupid.
E.g. I don’t know nothing (incorrect- This means you are not Jon Snow and you know something)
I don’t know anything (correct)
Confusion using ‘Me’ and ‘I’
Simple rule of the thumb to avoid this mistake is to remember:
When something you and the other person (e.g. your wife) are DOING together, then it is “My wife and I”
When something is DONE to you and your wife, then it is “My wife and me”
E.g. My wife and I are going to the party. (DOING)
They sent the invitation to my wife and me. (DONE)
Remember– In both cases, keep yourself at the last.
Using two comparatives/superlatives together
This is a very common mistake made by many people. If you know a superlative, don’t join another one with it.
E.g. He was the most fastest fielder in the team (Incorrect)
He was the fastest fielder in the team (Correct)
Using fewer and less
Fewer is used for countable items, while less is used for things that cannot be counted.
E.g. The bag has less eggs than purchased (Incorrect)
The milk for the recipe is fewer than what was required. (Incorrect)
The bag has fewer eggs than purchased (Correct)
The milk for the recipe is less than what was required (Correct)
Being unable to differentiate between say and tell
When you have to instruct or inform, and when the receiver of the information is included as an object of the verb, then tell is used. For exact quotes, and when the receiver is not mentioned in the sentence, say is used.
E.g. Tell me your name.
She just stopped by to say hello.
Does vs Do
Does is the singular form of the subject and do is the plural form. Does is used with he, she, or it; do is used with I, you, we, or they.
E.g. They do not know the route
She does all her work efficiently.
Starting every sentence with ‘basically’
This is a general suggestion for all speakers, especially those from India. Please DO NOT start your conversation or your speech with ‘basically’. It reflects laziness and a lack of creativity.
Revert back/reply back vs Revert/Reply
Revert and reply (especially in emails) are misused by a LOT of people in the form of revert back and reply back. Revert itself means to get back so the meaning becomes ‘reply back back’. Be careful.
Using too many filler words and having too many pauses
Using too many pauses results in humming like ‘ummm’, or the use of way too many filler words like ‘you know’ can also make the conversation quite weird. Avoid both to speak in a clear and concise manner.