Did you know that you might be saying some common words and phrases in English the wrong way? 😱 No worries! We’re here to help!
At Go Natural English, we are also language learners! We understand how frustrating it can be to make mistakes in a new language, and we want to help you understand these mistakes so that you won’t repeat them again.
We’ve put together this list of 5 super common mistakes that we hear non-native English speakers make all the time. These are some very common words and phrases that you might be pronouncing the wrong way, or using incorrectly when you’re speaking. Read through them carefully!
This one might come as a surprise to you! The word teacher is not a bad word to use, of course, but we don’t use it in the same way in American English as you might use it in your native language. For example, you wouldn’t call Gabby, ‘Teacher Gabby!’ Depending on the level of formality in your class, you could address your teacher in a few different ways:
- Their first name (this would be in a casual type of class, like here at GNE!)
- Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. + their first name
- Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. + their last name
- Professor (this is used at the college level and above)
- Professor + their last name
* Honorifics ➡️ Mr. = mister, used for male teachers; Mrs. = missus, used for female teachers that you know are married; Miss = used for female teachers that you know are unmarried; Ms. = pronounced miz, is used when you do not know a woman’s marital status, or you don’t want to imply that you do. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to ask your teacher what they would like to be called!
You’re probably overusing this word! An English textbook will tell you to use this word for important situations. For example: “You must study English!” The truth is, native English speakers don’t use ‘must’ as often as your textbook would like you to believe.
The modal verb ‘must’ can be used when something is required, or you are obligated to do it. For example, “You must present your passport before boarding an international flight.” It’s also used when expressing an opinion about something that is logically very likely. For example, “I see people out on the street wearing coats. It must be cold outside.”
You should try to use this word only once in a while. If we’re being honest, the only time we really ever use ‘must’ in everyday conversation is not to talk about important commands or important actions. Instead, we use it when we want to share a logical guess. When we want to say something is important, like an important suggestion, we most commonly use ‘should.’
* Even less commonly used is the archaic, negative version of this modal verb: musn’t.
Don’t say ‘goodnight’ when you actually mean ‘good evening.’ Don’t use ‘goodnight’ as a greeting, either! We can use ‘goodnight’ to say goodbye, for example, when leaving friends after having dinner with them. It’s most commonly used when you’re about to go to sleep.
If you want to greet people, you should use ‘good evening.’ It’s a little formal, but it’s what we use! You can also say goodbye to someone when it’s late in the day by saying “have a good evening” or “have a good night.”
🙅 Thanks God
Pay attention to this one! We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard non-native speakers say “Thanks God.” That extra ‘s’ is totally incorrect! No matter how amazing your English pronunciation is, if you make this mistake, it’s a dead giveaway that English is not your native language.
We use this phrase to express relief. For example, “Thank God it’s not raining today!” This is a really common expression, even if you don’t believe in God. Another way to say it would be “Thank goodness!”
This last one is also a painfully common mistake! Advice, the correct spelling, is a non-countable noun, which means you cannot make it plural by adding an ‘s.’
- Would you mind giving me some advice on how to apply for this scholarship?
- She gave me several pieces of valuable advice before ending our conversation.
- Thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate your advice.
- My grandfather always gives me at least one piece of advice when I visit him.
Check out our video lesson for more tips!
Here are two more lessons about things you should never say in English if you want to sound like a native speaker!