Common Errors in English
The concept of Common Errors is a fuzzy one. We leave to linguists the technical definitions. Here we’re concerned only with deviations from the standard use of English as judged by sophisticated users such as professional writers, editors, teachers and literate executives and personnel officers. The aim of this page is to help you avoid low grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business and titters of amusement at the way you write or speak.
If your standard usage causes other people to consider you stupid or ignorant, you may want to consider changing it. You have the right to express yourself in any manner you please, but if you wish to communicate effectively, you should use nonstandard English only when you intend to rather than fall into it because you don’t know any better. Other sites do this.Ours is dedicated to errors in usage. This page is really aimed at the most common errors of native speakers. The errors others make in English differ according to the characteristics of their first languages. Speakers of other languages tend to make some specific errors that are uncommon among native speakers.
This is a relative matter. One person’s gaffe is another’s peccadillo. Some common complaints about usage strike me as too persnickety. But We are just discussing mistakes in English that happen to bother us. Feel free to create your own page listing your own pet peeves, but we welcome suggestions for additions to these pages. We admire good writing and try to encourage it in our students.
You will find certain words or phrases criticized here listed in dictionaries. Note carefully labels like dial. (dialectical), nonstandard and obsolete before assuming that the dictionary is endorsing them. The primary job of a dictionary is to track how people actually use language. Dictionaries differ among themselves on how much guidance to usage they provide. But the goal of a usage guide like this is substantially different: to protect you against patterns which are regarded by substantial numbers of well-educated people as nonstandard.
Language standards can certainly be used for oppressive purposes, but most speakers and writers of all races and classes want to use language in a way that will impress others. The fact is that the world is full of teachers, employers and other authorities who may penalize you for your nonstandard use of the English language. Feel free to denounce these people if you wish. But if you need their good opinion to get ahead, you'd be wise to learn standard English. Note that I often suggest differing usages as appropriate depending on the setting: spoken vs. written, informal vs. Formal. Slang is often highly appropriate. In fact, most of the errors discussed on this site are common in the writing of privileged middle-class Americans and some are characteristic of people with advanced degrees and considerable intellectual attainments. However you come down on this issue, note that the great advantage of an open Web-based educational site like this is that it's voluntary: take what you want and leave the rest. It’s interesting that we have received hundreds of messages from non-native speakers thanking us for these pages and none from such people complaining that our pages discriminate against them.
We all commit mistakes from time to time. If you think you’ve found an error in our own writings, you are welcome to let us know it at once.
Here is the List of Common Errors in English arranged in alphabetical order.
Here is The List of Few More Errors.
Here is The List of Non-Errors.
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