It is difficult to learn a language. Some things that we learn are easy, but we make some mistakes many times. In this article, we talk about some of the common mistakes Brazilians and other Latin Americans make when they are learning and speaking English. This article will help you fix some of your mistakes.

  1. People is... In Spanish and Portuguese, we think of people as one group, a single noun. In English, we think of people as many persons. Because we think of people as many, we need to use a plural verb to go with our plural noun. This gives us “people are”.
    1. People are funny.
    2. People are meeting after work.
    3. In every culture, people are concerned about their children.

  2. R pronunciation as H – The letter R is very difficult for people learning English. There are many words in the English language that start with the letter R, such as Red, Right, Road, Rope, Rate and many more. Many people who speak Portuguese pronounce the letter R like the letter H. If you do not say the letter R correctly in American English, people may not understand you. Here are some common words that mean something else if you do not stress the R.
    1. Right – Height Take a right turn at the light. If you don’t stress the R, “Take a height turn” will not make sense.
    2. Rate – hate What is the exchange rate? If you don’t pronounce the R, it becomes Hate, meaning something you really do NOT like.
    3. If you are having a hard time pronouncing your R’s, try a tongue twister: Ray Rag ran across a rough road. Across a rough road Ray Rag ran. Where is the rough road Ray Rag ran across?

  3. I have 24 years – In Portuguese and Spanish, you say, “I have 24 years” to talk about how old you are. In English, you must remember to use the verb “to be” and then the age. You can use this pattern: person + to be + age + old.
    1. I am 26 years old.

  4. Mall/Shopping – People like to go shopping, and many people love to go to the mall, but there is a difference. In Brazil, shopping is used as a noun, meaning a mall. If we want to use shopping to mean “mall”, we need to say “shopping center”. Always remember:
    1. Shopping center is a place
    2. Mall is a place
    3. Shopping is an activity, the act of a person buying items.

    So next time you want to say you are going to a place with many stores, say, “I am going to the mall”.

  5. Take a decision/make a decision – People who speak Portuguese and Spanish use the verb “tomar” with the word decision. English uses a different verb with decision. In English, we use the word “to make”. Always remember, we don’t take a decision, we make a decision.
    1. We can go left or right. I need to make a decision.
    2. We need a plan for next year. We need to make a decision.

  6. Silent B’s – In Spanish and Portuguese, you pronounce words the way you spell them. In English we have many words with letters that are silent (letters you write, but you do not say). One example is the silent B. When B and M are together at the end of a word or B and T at the end of a word, you do not say the B. You only pronounce the M or T.
    1. Bom(b), Clim(b), Num(b), De(b)t, Su(b)tle, Dou(b)t

    It is important to look for letter combinations i.e. (bt) or (mb) at the end of a word. In most cases, the B will be silent.

  7. Pretend and intend – These are two commonly confused words in Portuguese and can make a big difference in the meaning of your sentence. Pretend means to fake doing something,that is you act as if you are doing something but you really are not. Actors pretend to be a person that they are not. Intend means you plan to do something in the future.
    1. I intend to go to school tonight. This means that I plan to go to school tonight.
    2. Mary doesn’t like fish, but she pretends to like it. This means that Mary tells people that she likes fish, but she really does not like it.

    Always remember “pretend” is NOT real, and “intend” is to plan to do something.

  8. Thanks god vs. thank god – Both expressions are a shortened form of “thanks be to god”. The person is not actually talking to God, it’s just an expression. We use this expression to show that we are relieved or happy that something good happened to us. For example, if you think that it will rain, and you are happy that it did not rain, you could say, “Thank god it didn’t rain.” Remember that we do not have an S at the end of the word thank.

  9. Lost/missed – In English, it is okay to say “I missed the bus” meaning you didn’t get there on time. We say lost when we had something, but now we cannot find it. For example, “I lost my car keys”. That means that we had our keys before, but now we cannot find them. Because of this, you cannot say that you lost the bus or lost a plane.
    1. We missed our flight to New York.
    2. John lost his passport and could not travel.
    3. Mary missed her dental appointment and had to pay a fee.

  10. I wrong the question – Sometimes we want to say that we did something incorrectly or did not answer the question correctly. Non-native speakers of English may say, “I wronged the question”. This is a direct translation from Portuguese or Spanish to English. In English we say, “to make a mistake” or we could say, “to get an answer wrong.” For example:
    1. John didn’t make many mistakes on his test and got a poor grade.
    2. Mary did the wrong lesson and was not prepared for class.

These are some of the most common mistakes made by non-native speakers of English.