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 want to improve my vocabularies. X
      Vocabulary is an uncountable noun.
      I want to improve my vocabulary. 
    2. I suggest to watch this film. It’s great! X
      The verb pattern is 'suggest (+that) + subject + verb'.
      I suggest (that) you watch this film. It’s great! 
    3. You like that kind of film, is it? X
      Use the appropriate question tag.
      You like that kind of film, don’t you? √
    4. If the company is not profit, people will lose their jobs and become unemployment. X
      Check you are using the correct part of speech.
      If the company is not profitable, people will lose their jobs and become unemployed. √
    5. I have much money. X
      'Much' is not usually used in positive sentences. Use 'a lot' of instead.
      I have a lot of money. √
    6. I was so touching after watching the film. X
      ‘-ed’ adjectives describe emotions and tell us how people feel. Adjectives that end ‘-ing’ describe the thing that causes the emotion.
      I was so touched after watching the film. √
    7. Despite is bad for health, many people continue to smoke. X
      ‘Despite’ is used with a noun or gerund. 
      Despite being bad for health, many people continue to smoke. √
    8. My favourite subject at school is maths. Furthermore I don’t like geography. X
      Make sure that the connector you use shows the relationship between the two ideas. Avoid overusing ‘furthermore’, ‘moreover’ and ‘besides’.
      My favourite subject at school is maths. In contrast, I don’t like geography. √

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:


  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.


  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?...’

External links