Common errors and study tips

It’s important to speak correctly so that you can communicate exactly what you want to say. Our courses will help you to understand common errors like these and avoid them when you are writing and speaking English. Here are some common errors and study tips for you to improve English anytime.

Common errors

Can you spot the errors in these sentences?

    1. I am agree with you. X
      ‘Agree’ is a verb.
      The correct way to say this is:
      I agree with you. 
    2. At last, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone here. X
      ‘At last’ is not used to show sequence. It is used to show that something happened after a long delay.
      Lastly/Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone 
    3. Could you tell me where is the MTR station? X
      In indirect questions, the word order changes.
      Could you tell me where the MTR station is? √
    4. Because it was raining, so I took an umbrella. X
      In English, ‘because’ cannot be followed with a new clause beginning with ‘so’.
      Because it was raining, I took an umbrella. √
      It was raining so I took an umbrella. √
    5. I see my best friend everyday. X
      ‘Everyday’ is an adjective meaning ‘ordinary’ or ‘usual’. It is used before a noun.
      ‘Every day’, written as two words, shows that something happens each day of the week.
      The correct way to say this is:
      I see my best friend every day. √
      Brushing my teeth is an everyday activity. √
    6. Hong Kong Park is very relaxing. There have benches you can sit on and watch the fish in the pond. X
      ‘Have’ is the wrong verb to use with the subject ‘there’.
      Hong Kong Park is very relaxing. There are/It has benches you can sit on and watch the fish in the pond. √
    7. Would you like to go to swimming later? X
      ‘To’ is not used between ‘go’ and the –ing form of a verb.
      Would you like to go swimming later? √
    8. My teacher gave me some very good advices. X
      ‘Advice’ is an uncountable noun. You can say ‘pieces of advice’.
      My teacher gave me some very good advice. √
      My teacher gave me three pieces of advice. √

Tips on writing formal and informal letters and emails

Confused about how to get started when you’re writing a letter? Do you know the differences between how formal and informal letters begin? Here are some tips:

FORMAL LETTERS…

  1. Don’t usually mention people’s first names in the greeting

    If you’re not sure who you’re writing to, you can use ‘To whom it may concern’. If you do know the recipient’s surname, as in ‘Dear Mr Wong’, feel free to use this.

  2. Use formal language to say exactly why you’re writing, usually right at the start

    If you are complaining about something, for example, you could use ‘I am writing to complain about…’. 

    For an invitation letter, you could use ‘Our company is delighted to invite you to…’. 

    Something like ‘We are pleased to inform you that we have approved your application for…’ would work when you’re writing an application approval letter.

INFORMAL LETTER

  1. Use a first name or nickname to sound warm and friendly

    For example: ‘Hi Grandma!’, ‘Dear Siu Ming,’, or ‘Michael,’.

  2. Start with a greeting or a polite question about the reader before getting to the main ideas

    Instead of only using ‘How are you?’ at the beginning, have a look at these examples, all of which engage more fully with the reader:
     

    ‘I hope you’re well. How are the cats? Has Bella had her kittens yet?... Anyway, I’m writing to ask whether or not you’re free this summer…’

    ‘Hi! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote – school has been really busy! … I just wanted to find out if you’re still interested in the camping trip…’

    ‘How are you? I haven’t heard from you in a while so I thought I’d let you know how I’m getting on in Australia. … Tell me what’s happening with you! How’s your internship at the biomedical company going?...’

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