Mistakes help you grow! Discover the most common English mistakes and how to learn from them. From grammar to spelling – let’s grow together!

It’s easy to make a lot of common mistakes in English as you’re learning and practicing reading, writing and grammar skills. It’s okay to make odd grammatical errors along the way or spell things incorrectly here and there, the important thing is that you practice and learn from your mistakes. 

What are the most common mistakes in English?

There are a lot of very common mistakes in English reading and writing, with grammatical errors often being at the top of the list for most of us. Lots of people will struggle with spelling or get confused when it comes to words that sound the same as each other, or words that sound different to how they’re spelt. 

  • Some of the most frequent mistakes, and examples of them, in English involve: 

  • Tenses – mixing up past and present tense

  • Subject-verb agreement – using the incorrect verbs for sentence subjects

  • Conjunctions – using multiple conjunctions in one sentence

  • Complex sentences – using commas incorrectly and incomplete sentences

Struggling with these complex English language concepts as you learn is to be expected, so don’t be discouraged as you make mistakes and learn from them. Explore Learning are here with a lot of helpful online English resources if you ever need an extra helping hand. 

Why making mistakes is good for learning and growth

The fear of making mistakes while learning is something lots of people have but not trying because you’re scared of being wrong won’t help you learn. It’s okay to learn through making mistakes! 

Learning English is about learning to communicate at the end of the day. So long as you can communicate effectively then the accuracy of your spelling and grammar can be worked on with regular exercises and practice.

Rather than not writing something for fear of making grammatical mistakes or making other common English mistakes, write a piece from start to finish. Once you have a full piece of writing you can double-check it for spelling and for ways to improve your grammar throughout. Don’t be afraid to go over it with your teacher, parent or guardian1

Common grammar mistakes and how to improve them

A lot of grammar concepts can be tricky early on. However, a lot of common grammatical errors can be addressed by practising where you’re struggling. Here are a few exercises to improve your grammar.

You’re and Your

You’re and your are usually a struggle point when learning grammar. A big part of the problem is that they sound the same, and figuring out which one to use in a sentence can be difficult as a result. 

For example: 

  • “You’re my best friend!”

  • “Your hair looks really good!”

Despite the different spelling, in both of those sentences, the word sounds the same. With regular practice this should become second nature, but how do you figure out which is right? 

Figure out what the word in the sentence represents. ‘You’re’ is usually a shortened version of ‘you are’ while ‘your’ is a possessive adjective, referring to something the person you’re talking about. So ask yourself if the sentence is trying to say ‘you are’ or referring to something someone else has. 

Try this exercise, which is the correct word for each of these sentences: 

  • Your/You’re dog is so lovely! 

  • Can you show me your/you’re work, please?

  • You can take a little break if your/you’re tired.

  • I think your/you’re an amazing person!

  • Your/You’re one step ahead of me.

Regularly practising sentences like these will help this become second nature. Try writing some of your own your/you’re sentences. 

Their, There and They’re

Another example that’s difficult because their, there and they’re all sound the same, but each represents something different.

Let’s look at some example sentences: 

  • “They’re going shopping.” 

  • “Take a look over there.”

  • “Where is their party?”

Like your and you’re, you can figure one of these out easily by seeing what the word represents. ‘They’re’ is a contraction of ‘they are’ and often refers to a group of people (although it can be used in singular) doing something. ‘Their’ is another possessive adjective, like your, it refers to something the person or group of people you’re talking about owns. Finally, ‘there’ refers to a location or place, like in the example above. 

So you’ll need to keep in mind what you’re talking about when choosing the right word. Are you shortening ‘they are’, referring to something that a group of people have possession of or are you referring to a location? Ask yourself those questions before writing the correct word and eventually you’ll be able to do it without thinking. 

Try this exercise, which is the correct word for each of these sentences: 

  • They forgot their/there/they’re bag so went back to get it.

  • She is waiting for you over their/there/they’re.

  • Their/There/They’re learning how to use grammar properly.

  • Take a look at their/there/they’re cute dog.

  • Their/There/They’re car is red.

Now for some more complicated exercises, choose the correct words for these sentences: 

  • That’s their/there/they’re car over their/there/they’re and their/there/they’re taking me for a drive.

  • Their/There/They’re not really into sharing but I didn’t know that paint stored over their/there/they’re was their/there/they’re paint. 

Keep practising these sentences and try writing your own until you feel confident with their, there and they’re. 


Like an adjective, which describes a noun, adverbs are used to describe a verb. They describe a way in which an action is happening, and can be a bit tricky to identify and use correctly. 

Look at these sentences with adverbs: 

  • “Tom ran across the road quickly.” 

  • “She moved really fast.” 

  • “He crept in quietly.” 

Usually, you can spot an adverb in a sentence by seeing which words end in ‘ly’, as generally, adverbs do end that way. However, you’ll have noticed that ‘she moved really fast’ doesn’t have a word that ends in ‘ly’. This is where adverbs can get confusing because ‘fast’ can be both an adjective and adverb, what makes it an adverb in this case as it’s describing the verb ‘moved’.

Identifying an easy rule with adverbs is difficult. It’s good to keep the ‘ly’ ending rule in mind, but that doesn’t cover every adverb. Just keep in mind, is the word describing an action? If it is, it’s an adverb. 

Take a look at these sentences and identify the adverbs: 

  • “Jane is great at swimming, she swims well.” 

  • “He didn’t want to wake the baby, so John spoke softly.”

  • “The child ran happily towards his mother.”

  • “The storm was so loud and the rain fell hard.”

Try writing your own sentences with adverbs, see how many you can come up with that use an adverb that doesn’t end in ‘ly’ to challenge yourself. Experiment with the placement of adverbs in the sentence too, adverbs often come after the verb but not always. Double-check your sentence and read it aloud to see if it makes sense with the placement of the adverb. 

Verb tenses

We’ve all struggled with verb tenses in writing! There are three tenses to work with in writing, past, present and future tense. The subject you’re writing about will determine which tense you use: 

  • Past tense: I run

  • Present tense: I ran

  • Future tense: I will run 

Notice how the verb changes for past tense but stays the same for future tense, which instead adds another word to indicate this is something that will happen in the future. Things get more complicated when you look at simple tense, continuous tense and perfect tense. 

Continuous tense refers to an action that’ll take place or will be over a period of time, and future tense refers to an action that has already been completed or will already have been completed at a specified time in the future. It can be tricky to get your head around these concepts. So, try making your own chart to show the present, past and future tense in simple, continuous and perfect tense for the following verbs: 

  • I walk

  • I swim

  • She runs

  • He cycles 

Be sure to ask for some help from your parent or teacher if this one gets tricky. If you’re feeling confident, try writing some full sentences in different tenses and ask your parent or teacher to check them for you. Do these exercises regularly and you’ll master tenses in no time. 

Improving confidence in English reading and writing

We’ve all struggled with different concepts in reading and writing English, grammar can be really tricky! It’s okay, though, if you need a helping hand we’re here to help. With an expert English tutor at your side, you’ll be confident in your English reading and writing in no time. 


If you need extra English tuition to help boost your confidence in English we’re here to help! 

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