Can you spot 7 common English mistakes? You’ll need to identify the correct sentences before the clock stops ticking. Then we’ll explain what’s wrong and show you examples of the correct English in action. We’ll also direct you to videos if you want more help with grammar and vocabulary.
In this video we look at:
- hair vs a hair (uncountable and countable nouns)
- history vs. story
- historical vs. historic
- wait for
- wait vs. expect
- bring vs. take
We’re going to try to catch you out today with some common English mistakes!
We’ll ask you some questions and see if you can get them right.
Some are easy and some …. you might need to think about.
So are you really for a challenge?
Let’s see how good your English really is.
Your first question’s about a mistake lots of students make.
A hair vs. hair
Here’s the situation. You’re having a meal in a restaurant, but there’s a problem. What do you
say to the waiter?
There’s hair in my soup.
There’s a hair in my soup.
Waiter! There’s a hair in my soup!
Shh, don’t tell everyone. They’ll all want one.
The word hair can be a countable or an uncountable noun.
When it means all the hair on your head it’s uncountable.
But when we’re thinking of hair as individual strands, it’s countable.
I have some grey hairs. Can you see them? Most of my hair is brown, but there are some
strands of grey hair.
Let me see. Yes, there are several gray hairs there – not just one.
So hair is a countable noun when we’re thinking of individual hairs.
But if we’re thinking of all the hairs on your head, it’s an uncountable noun. So my hair is gray.
And what about a haircut, as in ‘I need a haircut.’
That’s countable noun, of course.
Hey, did you get a haircut Jay?
No, I got them all cut!
Wait and expect
OK, next question.
You ordered something online that’s going to arrive today. So you don’t want to go out
You’re waiting a delivery.
You’re waiting for a delivery.
Notice we can’t wait something.
We wait FOR things so we’ll wait for the bus.
Or wait for the light to turn green.
I often have to wait for Jay.
Carter’s waiting for Ksenia to come. She’s going to take him for a walk.
So waiting just means passing the time, doing nothing until something else happens.
But we could also say Carter was expecting Ksenia to come there.
So what’s the difference between wait and expect? Let’s see if you know.
Another situation. Your grandparents are planning to visit you and you tell a friend when
they’re coming. What do you say?
I’m waiting for them next Saturday.
I’m expecting them next Saturday.
If you believe something is probable, don’t use wait. Use expect instead.
So in that situation you were sure your grandparents were coming. You were expecting them,
not waiting for them.
And there’s another useful phrase you can use with expect. If something’s a surprise, you can
say ‘I didn’t expect it’.
I’ve got a new trick to show you.
Now you sit over here and I’ll sit over here.
And then I’ll wave my magic wand.
Nothing’s happened. Oh hang on. We’ve changed places.
Well, I didn’t expect that.
For more information on wait and expect, check out this video.
Story vs. history
Let’s have the next question.
OK. You’re going to tell your friends about something funny that happened to you. What do you
I have a funny story to tell you.
I have a funny history to tell you.
History and stories both describe past events, so a lot of students get them confused. But
they’re different things.
There are lots of kinds of stories. Ghost stories, detective stories, love stories. Some are true
and some are made up, but they’re designed to entertain us.
While history is supposed to be true and based on fact. It’s about understanding the past and
it’s more academic.
And now for a hundred dollars, your next question is who wrote the Harry Potter series?
Oh they’re great stories. I know this. It was J.K. Rowling.
You’re right for a hundred dollars! Congratulations! And now for a thousand dollars we have a
history question. When was the United States constitution adopted?
Ooo. I think it was 1776.
No, I’m sorry. It was 1787.
Ah! I’m not very good at history. I can never remember dates.
I’m sorry Vicki. What a shame!
Historic vs. historical
OK, we have a harder question now. Which sentence is best here?
War and Peace is a history novel by Leo Tolstoy.
War and Peace is a historic novel by Leo Tolstoy.
War and Peace is a historical novel by Leo Tolstoy.
Historic and historical are both adjectives and they both describe things that happened or that
connect with the past.
Historical simply describes something from history. So a historical novel is based on events that
happened in history. A historical document was written a long time ago.
But if we’re talking about something from a long, long time ago, or something that’s REALLY
important from history, we say historic.
So we might say a building is historic if it’s very old and has a long history. Or we might say an
event is historic if it was really important and it changed history.
The US constitution is a historical document because it’s very old. But most people would call it
a historic document because it’s so important. It made history when it was written.
Bring vs. take
The next one’s easier. You’re in Paris and you want to see the Eiffel Tower. Your French friend
offers to help. What do they say?
I’ll take you there.
I’ll bring you there.
Then when you get there you say to your friend….?
Thank you for taking me here.
Thank you for bringing me here.
Take means move something away from where you are now. So we take things away.
And bring means move something from a different place to where you are now. So we bring
things here .
Carter, bring me the newspaper. Carter, get the newspaper.
Why don’t you go and fetch it yourself?
No, he has to learn. Carter, bring me the newspaper.
I don’t think it’s working.
Now sometimes ‘bring’ be extra tricky. So here’s another situation. Your friend invites you to a
meal at their home. You don’t want to go empty handed, so what do you ask your friend?
What can I take?
What can I bring?
A dinner party? Ooo we’d love to come. What can we bring?
That was harder, huh? You’re going to take a gift to their house, but you say bring.
When we use the word bring we sometimes imagine ourselves in the position of the person
we’re talking to. I think it’s often a politeness thing.
So we ask what can we bring to them when we’re asking what to take.
Isn’t English fun? To learn more about these words, check out this video.
This is the seventh quiz we’ve made on common English mistakes.
I’ll put a link at the end to the others.
So if you enjoyed this video, why not check them out.
And why not share them with a friend? Perhaps you know someone else who wants to improve
Thanks for watching and take care.
Click here for more info on story vs history.
Click here for more info on wait vs expect