8 more mistakes Russian learners of English often make

In this post, I keep correcting most common mistakes Russian learners of English make.

I didn’t initially plan to write a sequel to my post about common mistakes that Russian learners of English actually make, but the post proved extremely useful. Instead of explaining the mistakes over and over again, I simply gave my students the link and the number of the mistake they kept making. Seeing how well it worked, I’ve decided to put together one more list of common mistakes Russian learners make.

The root of all the mistakes below is the direct translation from Russian. Again, the list is based on my personal teaching experience. The order is almost random.

#1 Feel yourself good 

Feel good. If you think about it, isn’t ‘yourself’ redundant anyway? Of course, it’s yourself you are talking about, so you don’t need to say it. On top of that, ‘feel yourself’ actually means something you probably don’t want to say. Google it. Seriously, do.

#2 Weekends

Weekend, just one. If you are talking about your last or next weekend, a combination of two days Saturday and Sunday, it’s singular. For example, “My last weekend was entirely devoted to editing this post.”

#3 Nearest future

Near future. Just accept it. And I hope I won’t hear this mistake again in the near future. I actually hope I won’t hear it in the distant future either.

#4 In the street

Outside, outdoors. This is what ‘in the street’ means in Russian. In English, ‘in the street’ means ‘on the road in a city with building along it.’ So if you go jogging in parks or play football on open-air pitches, you do it outside / outdoors, not in the street.

#5 Variant

Option, choice, alternative. A variant is a different form of the same thing. For example, “Other variants of the game are known in other parts of Europe,” or “This is the American variant of this word.” But those 3 different things you are choosing from are options, choices or alternatives.

#6 Understood

Realized. You understand rules and people. But when you tell stories and share epiphanies, you realize things. For example, “… and then I realized I had left my phone in the office,” or “This was when I realized that something was wrong.”

#7 (In the) last time

Lately, recently. You haven’t talked to your best friend a lot lately. You’ve been chainwatching “The Big Bang Theory” recently. ‘Last time’ has a meaning of its own, which is ‘an occasion when you last did something.’ For example, “The last time I went to the cinema was in August,” or “When was the last time you watched a movie in English?”

#8 Do mistakes

Make mistakes. Yes, make mistakes. But do homework and do exercises. Certain words that are used together are called collocations. Collocations have to be memorized. There is no way around it. Make an effort and do your best to memorize them.

Mistake #8 is my student’s suggestion. He messaged me because he noticed somebody making mistake #5 in my previous post. He then noticed a mistake that he did made in his message, corrected it, and suggested adding it to my list. I thought it was a great idea. It is also a great conclusion to my post.

PS: It really and truly is OK to make mistakes, but it’s not OK to keep repeating them.

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Top 8 mistakes Russian learners of English actually make

In this post, I am correcting the most common mistakes Russian learners of English actually make.

Due to the nature of my job, every once in a while I stumble upon an article about N most common mistakes that learners of English make. I look at them and go, “Who makes these mistakes? Russians certainly don’t.” (For example, Russians don’t confuse your and you’re.) In this post, I want to talk about 8 common mistakes Russian learners actually make. These mistakes persist on different levels, but are not usually addressed in EFL course books.

The list is based on my personal teaching experience. The order is random.

#1 I with

I often ask students “What did you do at the weekend?” and what I hear is “I with my friends went to the cinema.” The right way to say something like this is “My friends and I went to the cinema,” or “I went to the cinema with my friends.” In English, the word order is “subject+verb” and prepositional phrases can’t go in the middle.

#2 How to say

When students don’t know how to say something, they ask me or murmur to themselves “How to say this?” The right ways to say this include, but are not limited to phrases like, “How do I say this? / How do I put this? / What’s the word for this? / What do you call this?” (“How do you call this?” is another common mistake, by the way.) ‘How to’ can be used in positive sentences like “I don’t know how to say this,” or “I will show you how to do it,” but not as a question.

#3 Meet this word

My students do a lot of independent work. They watch movies and read articles in English. When they want to share something new they learned, they say something like, “I met an interesting expression yesterday.” In English you meet people, not words. The right ways are “I came across / saw heard / learned an interesting expression.

#4 Deal 

When students didn’t their homework, they sometimes say they were busy and had a lot of deals. Business people make deals. The right way to say you were busy is “I had a lot of things to do,” or “I had to run some errands.” (“To run errands” is used to speak about small everyday jobs, like going grocery shopping or dropping by the bank to sort out some documents.)

#5 Look forward to

Yes, “I look forward to hear from you.” is wrong. Yes, you have to use the ‘-ing’ form after ‘to’ and say “I look forward to hearing from you.” No, it’s not an exception. The thing is, ‘to’ can be a particle before a verb (I want to go) or a preposition (go to Moscow). When ‘to’ is a particle, you have to use the infinitive, but when it is a preposition, you have to use the ‘-ing’ form. More examples of phrases with ‘to’ as a preposition: “I am used to getting up early”; “I devote a lot of time to writing my blog”; “We must commit to working hard.”

#6 I think no

When I ask questions like, “Do you think he’ll come to class?” or “Do you think paper books will disappear?” students often reply, “I think, no.” The right way to reply is “I don’t think so,” or “I don’t think he will.

#7 I am late. Late for 10 minutes.

There are two common mistakes that students make in text messages that they send me 10 minutes before class.

a) If you send a message “Irina, I’m sorry I am late,” 10 minutes before class, it’s wrong because you are technically not late yet. What you want to write is “I am going to be late,” or “I am running late.

b) Sometimes the message goes, “I am going to be late for 10 minutes.” Any preposition is wrong here and the right way is “I am going to be 10 minutes late.

Hm… something tells me that it was only Part 1. Stay tuned?

P.S. The poster “Ready to spring” used to hang in one of the offices I work in. I love it. What it says is so true. 

Photo credit: https://www.printcollection.com/products/ready-to-spring#.We4OieNuKUk

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