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A short list of bad English language habits!

 

Here are five of the common errors in English that come to mind. You can hear them often from native speakers and I am guilty of a few, too!!!

 

FEWER vs LESS

Wrong: "Checkout for 10 items or less"

Right: "Checkout for ten items or fewer"

If a noun is countable, you use "fewer"; if not, use "less". "To lose weight, you should consume fewer calories and less fat".

 

WENT vs GONE

Wrong: "You should have went to the concert"

Right: "You should have gone to the concert"

Of course, should + have needs a past participle!

 

TAKE vs BRING

Wrong: "When we go to the hospital, let's bring some oranges"

Right: "When we go to the hospital, let's take some oranges".

The verb "to go" starts from a point of departure, whereas the verb such as "to come" is at the arrival point. When you go, you take; when you arrive, you bring. So it would also be correct to say "When you come to the hospital, please bring some oranges".

 

WHO vs THAT

Wrong: "She is the girl that forgets her lines"

Right: "She is the girl who forgets her lines"

If it's a person, use who.

 

WHICH vs THAT

A pronoun "that" is a restrictive pronoun and "which" should be used to add information. The "which" part can be left out without changing the meaning of the main part of the sentence. The removal of "that" part would change the meaning of the sentence and that's why it's called restrictive.

"Sushi that is improperly prepared can give you parasites"

"Sushi, which is basically raw fish, is a Japanese delicacy"

If you remove the "which" addition, you are left with "Sushi is a Japanese delicacy" which is correct and does not change the meaning of the sentence. But if you remove the "that" section, it reads "Sushi can give you parasites" which is generally true but it completely changes the meaning and in some cases could even make the sentence not true.

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Comments

Thanks for the excellent and thorough explanation.  Allow me to add my pet peeve:  the use of object pronouns as part of a compound subject of the verb.  

 

Extremely wrong:   "Me and my brother are going to the movies."   "Her and Jane attend college."

 

Beautifully correct:  "My brother and I are going to the movies."   "She and Jane attend college."

 

Yeah, that's the one I was gonna add and then I forgot! In other words, for less advanced speakers, using "him" or "her" or "me" should be reserved for use of a pronoun as an object, such as "I visited him", "They were thinking of her" and "Please remember me" (anything that fits the question "whom"). When you're going somewhere with your brother, it's "my brother and I" because you are the subjects of the sentence, not the objects. In fact, when answering the phone, it would be correct for me to answer the question "Is this Logan?" with "This is he" beacuse I am the subject there. And that also makes "Yes, it's me" incorrect vs "It is I, Leclerc" but who the hell speaks like that these days?

Thanks Logan, for that fruitful information :)
and I wanna ask about another thing !!
recently - in some American movies I heard some weird sentence sentences such as
"He do" - "time to bed" or "time for bed" - I were .... ??
is that popular to use - Are these sentences right or fault ?

*true or false? 

Thank you Logan, this is very helpful. Can you help me with something?

I hear people saying, for example, "There is many people".

Shouldn't it be "There are many people"?

Thank you and Neil for sharing.

 

@shoji - People is plural (and "many" only goes with plural) so it should be "there are many people". Unfortunately, there are many people who will use "there's many" (not so much "there is many"). Another is "here is": even I would say "here's your keys" instead of the correct "here are your keys". Can you even call it incorrect if it's so widely used? I guess not, I think that's called non-standard English. You can get away with it in real life but don't use it in writing.

 

@ mano - Sorry man, forgot to reply to you. I don't know if I fully understand your question, I'll try. The expression is "it's time for bed". "He do" is probably some street variation on "he does" and is not correct. "I were" is not correct, it should be "I was" unless it's a part of an IF statement such as "If I were bigger, I'd kick your butt".

Nice explanations, Logan.

I think your "keys" example is due to the fact that we normally have to deal with "a set of keys".  Being a single "set" gives the brain the impression we're dealing with a singular (set) instead of a plural (keys).  So, using your example, the reason we get away with "here's your keys" is because we're THINKING "here is your set of keys".

 

You're right Devin, that is probably why keys work like that, that makes sense. But you know there's tons of other examples and here's just a few examples in these sentences. There's so many folks who seem to forget that there's rules to follow when it comes to grammar, at least in speech. And phrases like "a lot" take their form from the subject, so "a lot of people are boring" and "a lot of beer is good" would both be correct, but somehow it's mostly singular when it comes to "here's" and "there's". In spoken English and increasingly so written as well. Hey, language is a living thing, we have to keep up with it!

A lot of native speakers mix up the past simple and perfect forms of verbs that have a vowel that changes to 'a' or 'u' in those forms respectively (ex. drink/drank/drunk, sing/sang/sung, spring/sprang/sprung, ring/rang/rung etc.).

Ex.

"I drank..." and "I've drunk..." are correct the correct forms, but "I drunk..." and "I've drank..." aren't uncommon (I've even heard "I've drunken...").

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