Common English Language Errors

1. Subject Verb Agreement

The indefinite pronouns anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs.

  • Everyone has done his or her homework.
  • Somebody has left her purse.
  • Everyone has finished his or her homework.

You would always say, “Everybody is here.” This means that the word is singular and nothing will change that.

Some indefinite pronouns — such as all, some — are singular or plural depending on what they’re referring to. (Is the thing referred to countable or not?) Be careful choosing a verb to accompany such pronouns.

  • Some of the beads are missing.
  • Some of the water is gone.

Each is often followed by a prepositional phrase ending in a plural word (Each of the cars), thus confusing the verb choice. Each, too, is always singular and requires a singular verb.

Each of the students is responsible for doing his or her work in the library.

Don’t let the word “students” confuse you; the subject is each and each is always singular — Each is responsible.

Phrases such as together with, as well as, and along with are not the same as and. The phrase introduced by as well as or along with will modify the earlier word (mayor in this case), but it does not compound the subjects (as the word and would do).

  • The mayor as well as his brothers is going to prison.
  • The mayor and his brothers are going to jail.

The pronouns neither and either are singular and require singular verbs even though they seem to be referring, in a sense, to two things.

  • Neither of the two traffic lights is working.
  • Which shirt do you want for Christmas? Either is fine with me.

The conjunction or does not conjoin (as and does): when nor or or is used the subject closer to the verb determines the number of the verb. Whether the subject comes before or after the verb doesn’t matter; the proximity determines the number.

  • Either my father or my brothers are going to sell the house.
  • Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the house.
  • Are either my brothers or my father responsible?
  • Is either my father or my brothers responsible?

Because a sentence like “Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the house” sounds peculiar, it is probably a good idea to put the plural subject closer to the verb whenever that is possible.

If your sentence compounds a positive and a negative subject and one is plural, the other singular, the verb should agree with the positive subject.

  • The department members but not the chair have decided not to teach on Valentine’s Day.
  • It is not the faculty members but the president who decidesthis issue.
  • It was the speaker, not his ideas, that has provoked the students to riot.

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/sv_agr.htm

2. Extend and extent

Extend means to stretch out (or increase) Eg: Extend the meeting. (Stretch out the meeting)

Extent implies a particular length or how much Eg: To what extent, do you know about him? (How much do you know about him?)

http://www.englishforums.com/English/ExtendExtent/wdqgj/post.htm

3. Would or will

We use will:

  • to talk about the future – to say what we believe will happen
  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do
  • to make promises and offers

would is the past tense form of will. Because it is a past tense it is used:

  • to talk about the past.
  • to talk about hypotheses – things that are imagined rather than true.
  • for politeness.

Beliefs

We use will

  • to say what we believe will happen in the future:

We‘ll be late. We will have to take the train.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to say what we believed would happen:

I thought I would be late …… so I would have to take the train.

Offers and promises

We use I will or We will to make offers and promises:

I’ll give you a lift home after the party. We will come and see you next week.

Willingness

  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do:

We’ll see you tomorrow. Perhaps dad will lend me the car.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to talk about what people wanted to do or were willing to do:

We had a terrible night. The baby wouldn’t go to sleep. He kept waking up and crying. Dad wouldn’t lend me the car, so we had to take the train.

  • to talk about something that we did often in the past because we wanted to do it:

When they were children they used to spend their holidays at their grandmother’s at the seaside. They would get up early every morning and they’d have a quick breakfast then they would run across the road to the beach.

Conditionals

We use will in conditionals with if and unless to say what we think will happen in the future or present:

I’ll give her a call if I can find her number. You won’t get in unless you have a ticket.

We use would to talk about hypotheses, about something which is possible but not real:

  • to talk about the result or effect of a possible situation:

It would be very expensive to stay in a hotel.

  • in conditionals with words like if and what if. In these sentences the main verb is usually in the past tense:

I would give her a call if I could find her number. If I had the money I‘d buy a new car. You would lose weight if you took more exercise. If he got a new job he would probably make more money. What if he lost his job. What would happen then?

We use conditionals to give advice:

Dan will help you if you ask him.

Past tenses are more polite:

Dan would help you if you asked him.

Phrases with would:

  • would you…, would you mind (not) -ing, for requests:

Would you carry this for me please? Would you mind carrying this? Would you mind not telling him that?

  • would you like …; would you like to …,  for offers and invitations:

Would you like to come round to morrow? Would you like another drink?

  • I would like …; I’d like … (you)(to) …, to say what we want or what we want to do:

I’d like that one please. I’d like to go home now.

  • I’d rather… (I would rather) to say what we prefer:

I’d rather have that one. I’d rather go home now.

  • I would think, I would imagine, I’d guess, to give an opinion when we are not sure or when we want to be polite:

It’s very difficult I would imagine. I would think that’s the right answer.

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/modal-verbs/will-or-would

4. Worse and worst

Use worse to compare two things. These can be physical objects, concepts, places, people, and so forth. Ex: “I think eggplant is worse than boiled cabbage, but that’s just my opinion”; “Which is worse for your health, smoking or drinking?”

Use worst to state that one thing is inferior to multiple other things. Since it’s used to single out one thing, it always comes after the word the. Ex. “I disagree. Eggplant and boiled cabbage are both vile, but squash is the worst!”

http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Worse-and-Worst

5. Plural noun forms

The word following the phrase one of the (as an object of the preposition of) will always be plural.

  • One of the reasons we do this is that it rains a lot in spring.
  • One of the students in this room is responsible.
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