Horrible Mistakes made by English-speaking Natives and Non-Natives


It’s believed that wise men learn from other people’s mistakes, smart men from their own, and fools don’t learn at all. Well, let’s be the first ones! Though I’m just an essay writer from, not a grammar Nazi, I do hate an abundance of grammatical errors in front of my eyes. Thus, I suggest you carefully examine the most typical mistakes given below and get rid of them immediately! Please make me happy by sticking to clean grammar and writing style!

#1 Your/You’re, His/He’s, Its/It’s

The first word in these pairs is a possessive pronoun while the second is a pronoun with a copula. This mistake is typical for a variety of funny pictures made my teenagers.

For example:

Thank God its Friday.

Just remove the apostrophe, and you’ll get a blasphemy of glorifying God on Friday instead of an innocent joy of clerks and students who are anticipating the upcoming weekend.

#2 There/Their/They’re

Have you ever watched Sex and the City, the TV series? Well, the mistake is perpetuated there in an exciting form:

  • Carrie Bradshaw barely recovering from the news that the man of her dreams marries a young girl. The bride sends Carrie a note with a cute apologize “Sorry I couldn’t be their.” A rough spelling mistake (their instead of there) comforts the journalist, convincing her that she’s intellectually superior.

 #3 To/Too/Two

Another difficult trio of homophones.

  • To is an infinitive marker and a preposition of time and place.
  • Too is a particle that enhances the meaning.
  • Two = 2, II.

For example:

Two tea to two, too. Quite confusing, huh?


#4 Then/Than

Then is an adverb of time, used to indicate the length of time or to show the sequence of events. Than is used only to compare. Than can always be replaced by “compared with” or “in comparison to.” If these phrases do not fit the meaning of the text, most likely you mean “then.”

For example:

  • I know my parents better than
  • She is taller than
  • Take a break and then continue working.
  • I will complete the job by then.

#5 “I would of” instead of “I would have”

If the preceding mistakes are more common for foreigners, this one is made only by native English speakers. On the contrary, the students won’t make that mistake ever. This is due to foreigners getting used to clearly pronouncing each word while natives often “swallow” words, sometimes displaying the speaking mistake on the paper.

#6 Who/Whom

If you’re not sure whether you have to use who or whom, please use the next rule:

  • Who can easily be replaced by he/she/it/we/they.
  • Whom is the equivalent of him/her/them.

#7 That/Which

That has a restrictive connotation. It’s used when the accent is made on the noun to which that refers.

For example:

  • I can only play the guitar that is mine.

Which has a more defining accent. When identifies, but does not separate.

For example:

  • I’ve read almost all of the books, which you can buy in the store.


#8 Whether/If

Both native and non-native speakers mistakenly believe these two words are interchangeable.

Whether involves alternatives, at least two.

If points out a non-alternative condition.

For example:

  • I don’t know whether he visits me this Sunday. He may come or may not.
  • Please call me if you visit me this Sunday. That is, call me ONLY if you visit me this Sunday. Otherwise, don’t call me.

#9 May/Might

Although both words express opportunity, may has a more certain tone.

For example:

  • I may give up smoking. In this case, it’s very probable.
  • I might get fired. Most likely, I won’t get fired.

#10 Fewer/Less

Fewer is used for countable nouns while less is used for the uncountable.

For example:

  • There’s less milk in my plate than in yours.
  • I have less money than you.
  • Your business plan must contain fewer
  • I need fewer opponents to be able to beat the competition.

#11 Father/Farther/Further


Farther refers to a measurable distance.

Further refers to unmeasurable things like progress.

For example:

  • My home is farther than yours.
  • To get further information, please register by the link below.

#12 Most of people/Most people

The preposition “of” should only be used if you want to point to a specific group of people. In this case, the word “people” should be preceded by the definite article “the.”

For example:

  • Most of the employees in my office enjoy their work.
  • Most people don’t exercise in the morning.

#13 “and etc.” instead of “etc.”

“etc.” doesn’t require a conjunction because it means “and so on” by itself.

#14 Say/Tell

  1. Tell requires pointing out to whom we address the phrase while say may not be followed by anything.
  2. Tell doesn’t require a preposition. We need to talk at once, to whom we address the phrase.
  3. Say requires a preposition if we notify to whom we address the phrase.
  4. Say is usually used in direct speech.

For example:

  • What did she say?
  • She told me she loves me.
  • “I’m going to travel abroad,” she said to
  • “Please give me the pen,” she said.

#15 “to” after the modal verbs

“to” is not required after the modal verbs, with the exception of:

  • Ought to.
  • Have to.
  • Be to.

Now you know the most common mistakes of both native and non-native speakers. None of us likes to make mistakes, but life is full of shortcomings. The main thing is not to be afraid of making mistakes and choose the best way to get rid of them. If you have some chronic fails, please share them in the comments, and we’ll try to correct them in the most effective way.


Write grammatically clean and become a better version of yourself! Cheers!


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