20 Mistakes For Every English Learner To Avoid

By Lesley Vos

English language is not difficult to learn. Well, at least native speakers think so... Every educator can easily find the examples of English grammar, vocabulary, or spelling that always cause troubles and problems for students who learn this language. We've tried to gather the most common of them for you to avoid. Check if you make them.

Which vs. That

This is one of the most common mistakes. THAT is a restrictive pronoun, and WHICH is a relative pronoun that implies the options to use. So, WHICH defines, THAT limits.


Who vs. Whom

WHO is a subjective pronoun along with "he", "she", "it", "we" and "they". This word is used when a pronoun acts as a subject of a sentence. WHOM applies to objective pronouns along with "him", "her", "its", "us" and "them". This word is used when a pronoun acts as an object of a sentence.

Envy vs. Jealousy

ENVY implies the pursuit to someone else's success. JEALOUSY has a more negative meaning, as it is a fear of competition, which is often present in personal relationship.

May vs. Might

MAY implies the possibility, MIGHT goes for uncertainty.


Premier vs. Premiere

Premier = the first one, the most important one, the best in status.
Premiere = the opening night of a movie.


Fewer vs. Less

LESS is used for hypothetical quantities, while FEW and FEWER are used for things you can count.


Since vs. Because

SINCE refers to time, BECAUSE refers to causality.


Bring vs. Take

To use the words BRING and TAKE correctly, an author should know whether the object moves toward or away from the subject. If toward - use BRING, if from - use TAKE.


Adverse vs Averse

These two words have different meaning: ADVERSE = unfavorable, AVERSE = reluctant.


Than vs. Then

Learners often misspell these two words, changing the meaning of a whole sentence in result. THEN is used in conditionals and subjunctives, while THAN serves as a comparative conjunction.


Affect vs. Effect

To cope with this problem, a simple hint can be used: AFFECT is almost always a verb, and EFFECT is a noun.

Affect = influence or create an impression
effect = result.


There are some exceptions anyway. AFFECT may be used as a noun, and EFFECT is used as a transitive verb that means "to make something" or "to happen".


Some vs. Any

It's quite easy to remember the rule: SOME is used in affirmative sentences, ANY is used in interrogative and negative sentences.


Insure vs. Ensure

Ensure = to guarantee, to persuade
Insure = a verb for "insurance"


It's vs. Its

ITS is a possessive pronoun, while IT'S is a shortcut of "it is". English learners often forget using an apostrophe here, making a huge grammar mistake in result.


Do vs. Make

DO is often used to describe undefined actions, and MAKE is used when we speak about creating or shaping something specific.


Say vs. Tell

TELL refers to a whole story, SAY refers to mentioning something. Plus, SAY is usually used with direct speech, and TELL - with indirect speech.


Learn vs. Teach

LEARN means the process of acquiring knowledge, and TEACH refers to transferring knowledge.


Excuse me vs. Sorry

The rule is very simple here: say EXCUSE ME before you do something, use SORRY after you've done something.


Farther vs. Further

FARTHER means a distance that can be measured. FURTHER refers to some abstract length that can not always be measured.


Historic vs. Historical

Use HISTORIC when you speak about an important event. HISTORICAL refers to something that happened in the past.


Lesley Vos is a private educator of French language and a writer of Bid4papers blog.


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