HomeGrammar, Vocabulary, & PronunciationHow To Help Your Students Deal With Common Grammar Mistakes 

How To Help Your Students Deal With Common Grammar Mistakes 




English can be a tricky language, even for those who use it every day. No matter how skilled we are in English, sometimes we slip up and make mistakes when speaking or writing. This happens in every language and for every speaker. In this blog, we’ll explore some common errors that English speakers make and why they make them. Although these errors can be confusing, understanding why they make these common grammar mistakes can help you to help your learners improve their language skills. 

Common grammar mistakes 


lose vs. loose

Many speakers often confuse lose and loose in both written and spoken language. The similarity in pronunciation and spelling often leads to this mix-up.

Lose refers to misplacing or failing to win something, while loose means not tight or unfastened.

your vs. you’re

It is common to see the incorrect use of your and you’re because of the close pronunciation and similar way of writing them. 

Your indicates possession, while you’re is a contraction for you are.

could’ve/should’ve vs. of

People sometimes incorrectly use could of or should of instead of the correct contractions could’ve or should’ve. This is mainly due to the pronunciation. Try saying the contractions aloud to hear how it might be misunderstood. 

The correct contractions are could’ve (could have) and should’ve (should have).

fewer vs. less

People often use less when they should use fewer in relation to countable objects. This is because sometimes, the difference between countable and uncountable nouns is unknown or confusing for even skilled English users.

Fewer is used with countable nouns. Less is used with uncountable nouns.



Apostrophes are sometimes added incorrectly in plural forms, such as apple’s instead of apples. This may be due to a misunderstanding of possessive forms. 

Singular noun = the cat’s toy; singular noun ending in ‘s’ = Jess’ house; plural noun not ending in ‘s’ = a men’s jacket 

State verbs in continuous form

English speakers occasionally use state verbs (e.g., love, like) in the continuous form, such as I’m loving or I’m liking. This sometimes happens because of pop culture (e.g. theme songs that use state verbs in the continuous form) or because people start to incorrectly use it, and others pick up on the same usage. 

State verbs are typically not used in continuous forms.

Adjectives instead of adverbs

Some English speakers use adjectives in place of adverbs. For example, I’m doing real good instead of I’m doing really well. This is often due to regional use of the language. For example, in some southern states of the US, adjectives might be used in place of adverbs. 

Adjectives modify nouns, while adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Past participles instead of past simple

In certain dialects, past participles are used instead of the past simple tense, e.g. I seen it instead of I saw it. This is mainly due to regional influences and colloquial speech. 

Use past participles for perfect tenses and past simple for simple past actions.

Ways to help your students deal with these common grammar mistakes 

  • Contextual practice: use real-life situations, dialogues and exercises that incorporate these common grammar mistakes. Encourage students to recognise them and explain what the mistakes are. 
  • Error spotting activities: provide texts or conversations containing errors and have students identify and correct them. 
  • Comparative analysis: have students compare English usage to their own language, highlighting differences and similarities. This can help them understand why certain errors occur and how to avoid them.
  • Authentic material: use authentic texts, audio clips and videos featuring speakers making these mistakes. If you can’t find any, record them yourself. Discuss the cultural and contextual reasons behind these variations to help students gain a deeper understanding.
  • Peer feedback: Encourage students to work in pairs or small groups to identify and correct each other’s errors. 
  • Language games: Make learning fun by using language games and activities that involve correcting errors. Competitive games like Spot the Mistake or Error Bingo can engage students while reinforcing their language skills.

It is important as teachers that we expose our students to ‘real-world’ language. Remind your students that, like in their own language, there are different variations of English, or ‘non-standard’ English, which is important for them to know about. By teaching your learners about these common grammar mistakes, you can help them learn more authentic language and improve their listening skills.

For more on how grammar is different when spoken, check out this blog. 

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