Common Mistakes in English

Three people talking at table
Gary Burchell/Getty Images

Common mistakes are mistakes that even native speakers make on a regular basis. The most common of these common mistakes include 'its or it's', 'two, to or too', 'would of instead of would have', and more. The best way to not make these common mistakes is to become familiar with them through a wide variety of examples.​

You can use each of these pages as a starting point to practice not making these common mistakes in the future. Each page has a clear explanation with example sentences. Each common mistake page is followed by a quiz to help you check your understanding. Here are a few suggestions for how you can use these pages to reduce these common mistakes. Remember that each language has its own common mistakes.

Some Common Mistakes

Top Five Common Writing Mistakes in English
Good vs. Well
Bring, Take, Fetch, Get
Difference Between From and Of
Everyone / Every One
Everyday / Every Day
Whether / If
A Little, Little, A Few, Few
A Lot, Lots Of, A Lot Of
Female - Feminine / Male - Masculine
It's vs. Its
Two, Too, To
They're, Their, There
You're vs. Your
Confusing Words
Since vs. For
Have vs. Of in Conditionals
Has gone to vs. Has been to
Then vs. Than
Double Negatives
So do I, Neither did I
So ... that, such ... that
Both ... and, neither ... nor, either ... or

Improving Common Mistakes

Make sure to completely understand the common mistake. Look at the examples and ask yourself if you have made these common mistakes. Think about reading, writing and speaking and how they influence each other. For example, the common mistake 'would of' rather than 'would have' is often made because of the way 'would have' sounds in connected speech. In other words, when people speak quickly they run the words together and the form 'would have' SOUNDS like 'would of'. When people then go to write this form they think back to what they have heard and make the common mistake of writing 'would of'.

NOT CORRECT! - He would of come to the party if he had had time.
CORRECT - He would have come to the party if he had had time.

Take time to write down the common mistakes on a piece of paper or in a separate document on your computer. Spend the time to write five or more sentences practicing the correct form of the common mistake in question. Take the time to really think about the mistake when practicing. Chances are you will never make the mistake again!

Listen to / read other people for these common mistakes. Once you understand the common mistake, start listening to other people or reading their texts. Can you spot the common mistakes they make?

How Many Common Mistakes Are There?

You might wonder how many common English mistakes exist. That's a difficult question to answer. There are certain mistakes made in grammar, common mistakes made in pronunciation, and there are many common mistakes made because of confusing words.

Are Common Mistakes Bad?

Common mistakes are mistakes. However, it's (not its!) important to remember that the most important thing about using a language is communication. If you are able to communicate in English you are on the road to success. If you make a few common mistakes, you can certainly correct those mistakes.

Will People Understand Me if I Make a Common Mistake?

Generally, but not always, people will understand you if you make a common mistake. Context (what is happening around the situation) often makes it clear what you really mean. People fill in the blanks, understand that you mean something else, etc. Have confidence and try to eliminate common English mistakes, but make sure to continue speaking and writing English as much as you can!

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Common Mistakes in English." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Beare, Kenneth. (2020, August 27). Common Mistakes in English. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "Common Mistakes in English." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).