The Most Typical Writing Mistakes Made By Both Non-Native and Native Speakers

Before anyone accuses me of being a grammar Nazi, I am writing this article to point simply out the typical writing mistakes that are made and being made by both non-native and native English speakers that they might not be aware of.  Well, since I’m writing essays for students here, I must write correct and clean.

I must say, though, that if you are a non-native speaker, do not let your grammar mistakes define who you are.  The truth is, there are people out in the world who might question your education and success just because you use “its” rather than “it is.”

English is not your first language and, therefore, you might make grammar errors.  It is totally fine.

As a matter of fact, I have seen native speakers who make grammar mistakes themselves.  And that is even worse because English is their first language and they should be the masters of their own language, right?

Anyway, here are some of the common mistakes that are shared by both non-native and native English speakers:

  • Your vs You’re
  • I would say that I have seen both native and non-native speakers make this mistake over and over again.  “Your” is a possessive adjective.  This is used to refer to someone’s possession such as “your house”, “your belongings”, and “your dog”.  On the other hand, “you’re” is a contraction of “you are”.  Hence, “you’re pretty”, “you’re late”, and “you’re right”.  The same principle applies with “their” and “they’re”; “its” and “it’s”.  The list goes on.

  • Could of vs Could have
  • This mistake is probably typical of native English speakers than it is to non-native.  The thing is, could of is non-existent.  It does not make sense.  Could have, on the other hand, refers to something that could have occurred in the past but did not.  It can also be expressed in the form of contraction: could’ve.  I seriously think that “could of” existed because when “could have” is contracted and said out loud it sounded like “could of”.  So some people simply used it as they hear it.

  • Fewer vs Less
  • “Fewer” is used for nouns that can be counted while less is used for those that are uncountable.  Say, “fewer cars on the streets” and “less sugar in my coffee.” The same rules apply when using “amount” and “number”.  One of the most common mistakes that non-native speakers commit is writing “amount of people” instead of “number of people.” Generally speaking, native speakers do not commit this mistake, and it is more glaring on non-native speakers.

  • Thanks God!
  • This is like saying “Thanks God its Friday”.  I would say that this is one of the typical mistakes of non-native speakers, and only them make this error.  Traditionally, the expression is “thank God.” But some people probably say “thanks, God” to express it in a more personal manner.  Now that I think about it, I’d say no.  It is a mistake that most non-native speakers are accustomed to writing since there is no comma in between “thanks” and “God.” So we cannot assume that they are actually talking to God and thanking Him for something.

  • Endless sentences
  • Writing is the same as speaking.  Hence, you make pauses in the form of commas and periods.  Non-native speakers, however, tend to write continuously without pausing.  Or when they do, they put commas all over the place.

English is the universal language.  However, it is not also easy to learn.  There are lots of rules in terms when you should contract your phrases, proper tenses, and sentence structure.  You can check online writing assistant, Paradigm to learn more about grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.  But regardless of whether you are a native speaker or not, just keep learning.  Eventually, you will familiarize yourself with these rules and write better.

Here are some of the steps you can take to improve your English writing skills and avoid the aforementioned mistakes:

  • Read, read and read some more
  • You can never out-read yourself.  In order to acquaint yourself with all the English writing rules, you have to read a lot.  You can use magazines, books, journals and pretty much anything you can think of.

  • Practice
  • Keep writing and let someone read your work.  Take any criticism and feedback you can get and improve your writing skills based on them.  You can also visit The Purdue Online Writing Lab if you want to learn about various styles of writing.

  • Read your work out loud
  • If your sentences do not sound right to you, it probably is not written properly.  Joining community forums such as Writer’s Digest will also allow you to build your writing network that will help you improve your writing or even get published.

A word of advice: do not be discouraged.  A lot of us of make mistakes in writing, not just you.  Your problem starts when you give up in learning.  It is all a matter of learning from your mistakes and improving your skills.  As they say, “practice makes perfect.”

Lucy Adams, who is also passionate about blogging, is a professional essay writer from BuzzEssay