5 Most Common ESL Grammar Mistakes

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5 Most Common ESL Grammar Mistakes

If you ever decide to establish a consensus-based on how proficient someone is at the English language, your results might be quite surprising. Despite the massive number of people that speak English as a first language, there is a vast majority that speaks English as a second language. Now, while their native languages might be similar to English, such as those derived from Latin, this is still a tricky language to master. This is particularly true for those that have learnt English later in their lives, and have received an education where English wasn’t the primary medium of instruction.

For a really long time, there was no other option than to invest a considerable amount on an English tutor, and learn English that way. Having a physical tutor is a great way to learn English, as it allows learners to not only grasp the facets of the language on a more personal level, but also have someone to test their communicative skills with, and receive constructive feedback. Nearly all ESL speakers have studied with a teacher, but that cannot be translated well for those that couldn’t afford one or couldn’t reach one. That has been aided greatly by the internet.

As a platform, there is no questioning that the internet has immensely helped in the spread and prevalence of the English language. What was previously something that could only be achieved by a tutor can now be learned on your own accord, at any time. There are several online resources which offer English courses for free or at a nominal cost. Even so, ESL learners might have a few hiccups here and there in their writings. For academic and professional papers, these inconsistencies are unacceptable as these documents need to conform to the highest English standards.

To make your paper look and read their best, it is paramount that these mistakes need to be removed. So, by looking at these common mistakes below, you can make yourself wary of their occurrence in your papers and eliminate them quickly.

Wrong tenses

A common mistake made by ESL learners are the inconsistent use of tenses. Depending on the context of the sentence, the words, adjectives and nouns used must conform to the timeframe being mentioned. This is a common mistake, which is what ESL Editing Services usually find in the writings of younger learners. What you need to remember is that sentences that begin with one tense need to end on the same tense as well. Changing the tense mid-sentence, or using words with various tenses mixed in will simply be confusing for any reader. The goal of writing is to deliver your message as clearly as possible, and for that, any sources of confusion need to be removed.

A great way of circumventing this error is to keep the tense in mind while writing the sentence. You can do that by creating a mental image of the entire situation first, and then composing sentences accordingly. Avoid breaking sentences into more parts than necessary, as that also causes mix-ups in tenses. Remember to use commas and periods, to add to or end sentences correctly.

Improper word choices

An important part of how your writing is perceived is by the words you chose to use. Using the correct forms of words is crucial for it to be clear, and has a marked role in how formal it is. If you’ve ever read a legal, business or academic document before, you might have noticed how distinct it is from most other forms of writing. The sentence length, followed by the wordings used indicate that the writers left no expense at making their work easily understandable. Despite the apparent complexity of the words being used, the meanings behind those words leave nothing no room for vagueness.

The sorts of words you should be using are entirely reliant on how formal a document needs to be. A rule of thumb is to use higher tier words in more formal writings, and their normal variants in casual pieces. This would help distinguish your works based on their tone, and allow readers to determine the seriousness of an article the instant they read it.

Over complication or simplification

Many ESL learners make the mistake of oversimplifying or complicating the messages they are trying to get across. Even though this might occur unintentionally, it needs to be detected after writing and rectified promptly. Any document needs to be written with the audience in mind. If a paper is being written for a general audience, using technical jargon and complex synonyms isn’t exactly ideal. On the other hand, if a piece is to be written for academic or professional purposes, then its readership is likely to be aware of the industries terms and lingos. In that case, using simple language would just dilute the data you’re presenting, and make the paper look unprofessional.

Instead of writing by looking at the dictionary and picking out the most attractive words, we recommend writing an initial draft completely using your own words. This draft can then be read to check whether the message being presented is concise and clear. Only then is it suitable to rewrite it more professionally, using the appropriate terms and wordings. What you will get as a result is a crisp and coherent copy that stands out from the others.

Using pronouns incorrectly

Some ESL writers make the error of using pronouns that do not agree with their respective nouns. The noun you use needs to be referred to by an appropriate pronoun, which takes its quantity into consideration. If you were using a singular noun, then a singular pronoun would be ideal. Conversely, if you had a plural noun, then a plural pronoun would be the right option. If anything, it is safe to say that this kind of issue frequently occurs in the works of native writers as well. Despite its prevalence, it often indicates that a writer is inexperienced and/ or cannot write effectively.

As a solution, you need to make sure that singular nouns are supported by singular pronouns only. There are times where you might feel that pointing to a single-gender is sexist. As remarkable as that is, it is much better to be using the correct terms in formal situations.

Sentence and arrangement etiquette

Another common issue that you will find in the writings of ESL learners is the incorrect joining of sentences. In the English language, sentences may be ended using periods, or connected using commas, colons, and semicolons. If you need to split one sentence into two, you should use a period. If a sentence with two independent clauses needs to be separated, a semicolon should be used. In this case, you can also use words such as, therefore, furthermore, also, and consequently. A comma should be used if you needed to list down a series of words that are different from one another. Alternatively, you can also use connecting words such as but, yet, so, and for.

This words and separators are necessary to use as they turn into run-on sentences. These are sentences that are incorrectly joined together without the use of appropriate words. If you feel that your sentences could be broken into two, it is recommended to reread them and use the correct separators and words.

By | 2019-12-21T10:00:14+00:00 December 21st, 2019|Book, editing, ESL Writers, Proofreading, Writing|0 Comments

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