Common Mistakes in English

Some tricky points for Ukrainians learning English

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My list is definitely not exhaustive, but here’s a few of the more common ‘slavicisms’ I hear.

bring / take

Bring always shows motion towards the speaker, while take shows motion going away from the speaker.

My wife told me to take an umbrella with me when I left for work.

Now that I’m at the office:

Since it rained, I was glad that I had brought my umbrella to the office.

If I’m not longer at work:

It’s a good thing I took my umbrella to work today.

Note that “with you” can be dropped when it’s clear from context.

go / come / get

Similarly, come shows movement relative to the speaker’s position. Get shows completed motion. Also, it’s more common to use location than motion.

Location:

I’m already at work.

Motion:

I’ve already arrived at / got to/ / made it to work).

Come: motion towards the speaker
Go: general motion
Get: completed motion

I’m still at work in this case:

I came to work at 9 AM this morning.

Now I’m not referencing my current location:

I go to work everyday.

The emphasis is on the completed action, not my current location:

I got to work at 9 AM this morning.

An easy trick is to put here in a sentence with come. If it doesn’t fit, use get or go instead.

by / until

Until shows how long an action is going to take place.

Я буду в Киеве до пятницы.
I’ll be in Kyiv until Friday.

Use by for deadlines.

Мне надо доделать этот проект до пятницы.
I have to finish the project by Friday.

feel (myself)

It sounds awkward to say feel myself with an adjective. Drop myself from these sentences:

I feel tired.

We can use feel myself with a gerund.

I was so tired that I could feel myself falling asleep.

make / do a mistake

We make mistakes. We never do mistakes.

Latinate vocabulary

Watch for register. These are all day-to-day words in Russian:

Общение с собеседником про знакомых

Don’t translate them with super formal, Latin words:

* Communication with an interlocutor regarding acquaintances.

Go for day-to-day words instead:

Talking to somebody about people we know.

I / we, and / with

The same person can’t appear in both subject and the object of a sentence.

There are are a minimum of three people in this sentence:

We discussed with you…

We join people in the subject with and not with. I always comes last in standard English.

My friend and I…

never:

I with my friend…

borrow / lend

The correct way to use these:

I borrowed money from the bank.
The bank lent (loaned) me money.

Explain to me

Explain requires a direct object.

The CEO explained the new product (direct object) to us (indirect object).

We can’t drop the direct object, and we have to add to before the indirect object.

My psychologist is the only one who can explain me.

Word order in embedded answers

This is correct:

I don’t know why people make this mistake.

This is not:

* I don’t know why do people make this mistake.

This isn’t a question; drop the do.

Also watch out for the word order change:

I don’t know what time it is.