Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Top Words.
My name is Alisha, and today, we're gonna talk about 10 mistakes that native English speakers make.
So, let's get started!
1. less/fewer
Okay. So, the first mistake that native speakers make is they confuse "less" and "fewer." Less and fewer are very similarly used; however, there's a key grammar difference between them. We use the word "less" to refer to uncountable nouns, a quantity of uncountable nouns. We use "fewer" for countable nouns.
So, for example, to use "fewer," I could say:
"I made fewer mistakes on this test than I did on the last one."
And to use "less," I could say:
"I made less money last year than I did this year."
So, when you want to use, when you want to make a comparison with a countable noun, when you want to talk about a smaller quantity of something or a smaller amount of something with a countable noun, you should use "fewer." If you're talking about an uncountable noun, you should use "less," so please be careful - less and fewer. Less - uncountable, fewer - countable.
2. your/you're
The next pair is actually a spelling-related mistake. It's "your" and "you're," so Y-O-U-R and Y-O-U'-R-E. "Your" is the possessive, like something that belongs to you is yours, your item. Y-O-U'-R-E is the contracted form of "you are." "You are great," "you are funny," "you are tired," for example. Native speakers often make spelling mistakes because these two words sound the same, but actually, they are grammatically different.
So, another example sentence:
"Your performance was really great"
"My parents think you're great!"
"My parents think you're great," so here, we have the (apostrophe) R-E of "you're," so please be careful. Native speakers often make this spelling mistake.
3. there/their/they're
Okay! So the next mistake that many native speakers make is, again, a spelling-related mistake. It's with the three types of there. There is "there" as in "over there," (a location), there is "their," T-H-E-I-R (the possessive form), something belonging to them, and T-H-E-Y'-R-E, the contracted form of "they are." Native speakers often make spelling mistakes with these three words because they sound the same; there/their/they're. They all sound the same, but in terms of grammar, they have different functions.
So, in an interesting sentence, you could say:
"They're in their car over there."
Or, "They're over there in their car."
So, we can use all of these words in the same sentence, but in order to correctly express the meaning, we need to make sure the spelling is correct too.
4. it's/its
The next one, the next mistake that many native speakers make is a punctuation mistake, usually. The difference here is between "it's," with an apostrophe, and "its" without an apostrophe. So, the word "it's," with an apostrophe, can be the contracted form of "it is" or "it has," depending on the sentence. "Its," with no apostrophe, just means the possessive form of (something). So, something which belongs to it, some it, outside this discussion. So, native speakers often forget which...which one gets an apostrophe. Does the possessive get an apostrophe or not? So, no, the possessive form does not take an apostrophe here. The only apostrophes are for the contracted form of "it is" and "it has." So, please don't make this mistake that native speakers make.
In a sentence:
"I saw Star Wars. It's a really cool movie. Its effects are awesome."
5. nuclear vs. nucular
Okay! The next mistake is a pronunciation mistake. Many native speakers make this mistake. Many high-ranking officials, presidents make this mistake, politicians make this mistake. The word "nuclear," nuclear is spelled N-U-C-L-E-A-R, "nuclear." However, many people pronounce this as "nucular" for some reason. I don't know why this is, but many people say "nucular" instead of "nuclear." If you pay attention to the news, you'll probably hear this after a short discussion of this topic. Somebody will say the word "nucular." I don't why this is, but "nuclear," nuclear is the correct pronunciation of this word.
"Don't pronounce nuclear as nucular."
6. could have vs. could of
Okay! The next mistake that native speakers make is, again, a spelling, usually, a written, a written problem. It's "could have" and "could of," could have and could of. So actually, "could of" is the mistake here. We don't use the "could of." "Could of" is not a grammar point here. Rather, when native speakers use the contracted form of "could have," it sounds like "could of."
So, for example:
"I could've come to the party if I finish my homework."
Or, "I could've met you last weekend."
Or "I could've, could've (blah, blah, blah)."
It's "could have," could have, but when speaking, in speech, it sounds like "of," I could've, I could've, because the contracted form sounds like /f/ like "of." It makes a /f/ sound, an "of" sound. So, sometimes, native speakers write "could of." However, this is incorrect. We should right "could have" if you'd want to use the, like expanded, the regular form instead of the contracted form. So, "could have" should be used instead of "could of." "Could of" is a mistake. Please use "could have," instead.
Okay. So, one more example sentence:
"I could have explained better."
7. effect vs affect
So, the next mistake that many native speakers make is with the word, the words "effect" with an E and "affect" with the A. While there are some, maybe less common differences between how these words are used, especially the word "effect" with an E, in most situations, we can consider the difference of these two words to be in grammatical function. The word "effect" with an E is typically, typically used as a noun, as in a side effect or the effect of something. When we use "affect" with an A, it's typically used as a verb in a sentence, like, "This change is going to affect my life" or "I don't want to affect your family," for example. When we use it as a verb, we should use A, the A spelling. When we use a noun, we should use the E spelling.
Yes, there are some situations where "effect" with an E is used as a verb. It's in, let's see, for example, in situations where we want to explain a change occurring or something which causes a change, we say, "to effect change" meaning causing something or in order to do something. But again, that use is not as common as what I talked about before, the noun and the verb differentiation of these two. So, if you like, you can look more into that, but in general, consider E as your noun form of "effect" and A as your verb form of effect.
Example sentences:
"The drug had a strong effect."
"The drug affected my body."
8. There's a lot of
So, okay, so the next mistake that people make is they begin a sentence with "there's," "there is," the contracted form of "there is." They say, "There's a lot of…" and then they complete the statement with the plural form of a noun, like "There's a lot of people in here" or "There's a lot of (blah, blah, blahs)" like cookies in the kitchen.
The problem here is that we're beginning the sentence with "there's," "there is," the singular form, "there is," so that means that the noun that follows that phrase also needs to be in the singular, "There's a…," "There is a (something)." We can't use the plural form here. So, many native speakers, maybe they don't think about the next part of the sentence and they begin their sentence with "There's (something, something, something)." This is a very common mistake, actually. If you're using the plural form of a noun, you need to use "there are," instead.
"There are a lot of people in the room."
"There are a lot of cookies in the kitchen," for example.
So think about plural noun and the plural form of is or are, the singular as well. So this is a very common one, be careful of that.
9. Vague use of pronouns
The next one is a huge problem in writing. So, people are sometimes very vague. Vague means unclear about using like pronouns; him or her or he or she, especially in cases where there might be many people involved in a situation.
So, if for example, I say:
"He gave the book to her after he finished reading it."
It's like how many people are involved in this situation? I said, "He gave the book to her after he finished reading it." There are two "he" in that sentence. Are they the same person? We don't know! So, it can be very important to identify all the actors in a sentence or in a paragraph to prevent confusion.
So, if it is a situation like that where I say something like, "He gave the book to her after he finished it," but there are two different men involved in that sentence, I might say like:
"Mike gave her the book after Gary finished it," for example.
Or, if it's Mike the whole way through, I could say:
"Mike gave Mary the book once he had finished reading it," for example.
We could change the sentence slightly if we really want to make it clear, but just make your… all of your pronouns should be very, very clear to your reader. If you use "he" and "she" and it's not clear who you're talking about, you can really confuse the person listening or the person reading, so please be careful of this.
10. Faulty Parallelism
The next one is faulty parallelism or in other words, it's a grammatical function where all the items in a list, usually in a list or in bullet points as well, all the items in those lists or in those categories should have the same grammatical type of expression. So by that, I mean if you're using a noun phrase for everything, all the items should be a noun. You should use a noun phrase for everything. If you're using verbs or if you're using a complete sentence or depending on your situation, the grammar of each one of those items in the list should be the same.
So sometimes, people will say, for example:
"I like cooking, and reading, and watch a movie."
The problem here is I've used "cooking," "reading," so these are two like I'm using the gerund form, so they're essentially like nouns, so "cooking" and "reading" and "watch a movie." So "watch a movie" sounds similar, like these are three hobbies. "I like to watch a movie," for example. It sounds kind of similar. We don't have a problem in communication really, but grammatically, "watch a movie" is different from "cooking" or "reading."
So, to fix this, we say:
"I like cooking, reading, and watching movies."
So, just make sure that everything that you're introducing in your list matches grammatically and this won't be a problem for you. So yeah, if you're using all nouns, make sure you use all nouns. So, just, just be aware of that. That's something that many native speakers run into as a problem sometimes.