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About My English Mistakes

Beautiful Plant

At times, it happens that someone comments on one of my posts to correct my English, and I am happy about that. However, that doesn’t happen very often, which makes me either think that people are too shy to correct someone, or that I don’t make too many mistakes anymore, I don’t believe in the least.

With that said, if you see me making a certain mistake again and again in English, I would be glad if you tell me about it. I don’t ask you to proofread the whole freshly published articles, I just want to say that if I do some mistakes often, mistakes that are pretty much apparent, I won’t be sad if you point me to the error, if you tell me that it is wrong English…

Quite the opposite, I want to improve my English, and if a native speaker can make me aware of any mistakes I make, this might help me a lot to improve future articles. Just saying, I am glad about any help, to me this wouldn’t be an insult, I’d be thankful instead.

Sometimes I understand English grammar rules fast, sometimes it’ll take me a long time until I broke a habit, but the point is, if you ever saw me repeatedly doing a certain mistake, I won’t be mad if you point that out.

Here are some recent things I learned because someone corrected me:

  • If I speak of people, I shouldn’t write “the people” because this would give the sentence another meaning. As far as I understand, “the people” means something similar to “peoples”, while “people” does mean something very different.
  • The word “chilling” means something similar to “ice-cold”, if I speak of “relaxing” or “relaxed”, I should rather use the word “chilled” instead of “chilling”.
  • If I took a photo of a certain place and if I don’t want to mention the street name, I should use “a photo I shot somewhere in my city”, not “a photo I shot anywhere in my city”.

I did make at least two of the mentioned mistakes frequently, I will now try to break this habit. It might be difficult to break the mistake with “the people”, I hopefully get this correct very soon.

10 Comments »

  1. I did notice the “chilling” mistake but I knew what you meant. I know that in German the grammar is different to English so when you translate directly from one to the other it can look a bit odd but the meaning is usually clear enough.
    Since you asked, it would be better to say “I don’t make too many mistakes any more.” which you don’t really and that “make some mistakes” sounds better than to “do some mistakes”.
    Some people are pedantic about grammar and spelling but many are not these days. Considering that you are writing in a language that is not your own and that language changes constantly I think you do quite well.
    Even in a couple of generations words and expressions creep into our everyday language while others disappear. When I was younger we didn’t use “chill” for relax and it took me quite a while to get used to the modern usage of “sick” and “wicked” as terms of approval. I don’t know if you do that in Europe, maybe those expressions came from America.
    If you read old books as I often do you notice that up until about the 1950s the word “gay” was used in an entirely different way from today.
    Do you use spoken English a lot or is it mostly when you write?

    • Thank you, I think I do get the difference of “do” and “make” now in this case and corrected the post, I hopefully will memorize this too. Thanks a lot!

      I noticed that English speaking people are not too worried about a few grammar and spelling erros, I guess that has to do with the fact that they know that a lot of non-natives use English in the web too.

      We do have that in the German language too, linguistic does change with time, currently we have a high influence of English words, mainly caused by marketing agencies… in a Coca Cola ad you would even see words like “fresh” rather than the German word… in some cases English words were so often used that they do now count as German words too (laugh). Another reason might be new younger generations, that tend to invent new words or meanings as in the example of “chilled” instead of “relaxed” or as in your example “wicked” and “sick”, we have those cases too.

      Answering your last question, I mainly write English, I don’t speak it very often unless some tourist would ask me something. There was a time when I joined a so called “gaming clan” of a particular game, and all those team members were from Britain or America and we used Teamspeak (voice communication via headset). We played regularly together and could only use English, it was tough but I think I learned a lot at that time. At some point I didn’t play this particular game anymore, I lost contact to the guys of the “clan” when I started to play other games, that means I did stop to practice spoken English. You’d be surprised how bad my English is, the people in the game back then said I have heavy German accent, and I communicated slowly. As I still have favorite games, I might join an English speaking clan again some day, it was difficult to communicate that fast in English in an action game, but still a fun way to practice English. So, in short, I think I am very slow in English, might not find the right words fast enough, and might pronounce things wrong, but I am also not a total beginner I guess 😀
      However, I am a very good listener in English, I can watch movies in English, documentaries, YouTube and so… I get better and better with listening.

      • There are regional accents and dialects in Germany too aren’t there? When I was in high school in the early 70s I took German as a subject and the teacher, who was also our class teacher, was German. I think he told us he was from Hamburg and he told us that there was “high German” and “low German”. I think he was referring to formal and informal figures of speech. I know that occurs in French as well. He also said that his speech would be different from someone living in another part of the country. I enjoyed the subject but had to drop it when I changed schools and have forgotten most of what I was taught now. I know that the recorded lessons we listened to were easy enough to follow because the speakers went slowly but if I watched a movie where German was being spoken I could not keep up. I am sure that’s how you felt trying to speak English while gaming but if the people you play with are patient it would be a fun way to learn.

      • Yes, we have quite a lot of them. As you teacher was from Hamburg, I can tell you even people from Hamburg have an accent, we call it “Hamburgerisch”. Formal most people in Germany speak or do at least write “Hochdeutsch” (high german). In Northern Germany, including Hamburg and Lübeck for example, a lot of elder people can still speak Plattdeutsch (low german). As my grandma and grandpa can speak it, I learned a little bit of it too, it’s anyhow a mix of English and German (laugh), lots of words sound like mixed German and English.

        We have many many more accents here, Bavarians can speak Bavarian, Berliners can speak Berlinerisch, East Germans speak East German, around Stuttgart they can speak Schwäbisch (Swabian). These were just a few examples, but there are a lot more accents within Germany. For me as a Northern German, it’s quite hard to understand true Bavarians.

        To be honest, I always thought it must be quite hard for people who learned German, because once they are in Germany, they notice the regional differences here, although most people can speak Hochdeutsch, but you might need to ask for that in some areas 😀 What you learned is “Hochdeutsch” or Standard German, the formal spoken German.

        You are right, that is how I felt with the English guys… there were regional differences as well. One of them was from Texas, another American used this “Gangsta slang”, hard to understand, the British guys with different pitch and words, one guy was from Australia, that was very different too. There were other Europeans like me, one guy from Sweden, and several others, which means there were even more accents involved. That was quite funny, we had so much fun.

    • Thank you Charles. I wish you would, I know it’s difficult, I forget all the French I learned in school, I would like to be as good in French, but learning a language again is so difficult, I undertand you.

      • Mir hat es geholfen Filme auf Englisch zu gucken, viel Englisch im Internet zu lesen und auf Englisch zu schreiben. Natürlich muss man dann immer wieder nach Vokabeln schauen, und es dauert bis Fortschritt erkennbar ist, aber mit der Zeit wurde ich immer besser.

        It helped me a lot to watch movies in English, to read a lot English in the internet, and trying to write in English (you did that right now). Of course, one needs to constantly search for new vocabulary, and the progress takes a lot of time, but with time I became better and better.

        Fun fact, I didn’t learn 100% English grammar and all kind of vocabulary first back then, of course I got the basics down back then, but then most of it was learning by doing… when you have some basic grammar, and some basic vocabulary, you might already notice patterns in articles, there will be missing words that you have to translate, but with the years you really build up a massive vocabulary and you’ll get better through articles or books, I can’t remember the point when I noticed that I can now understand full English articles with just a few words that I still had to translate… it took time, but there was gradually progress. I am not sure if it works for everyone, but after the basics, reading a lot in the language is something I would suggest. At first even a tiny article might take you 20 minutes to read because you have to translate so much words first, but month for month it works better and better. That was how I did learn English.

        If you like, you can always try to comment in German on my articles, or reply in German on my comments on your blog too. I am not sure how far you are, which means, I don’t know if I can to 100% reply in German. If you think you would understand, I can of course do that, if it helps 🙂 Or I can “dual comment in both languages” as I did that in the first two paragraphs 🙂

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