Common English Mistakes
Last Modified: 01/12/2016
What are the common English mistakes made by people in Hong Kong? I don't want to make them!
There are quite a number of common mistakes. Most of them are made because Chinese grammar is different from English grammar. We have a personal Top 5 at the moment:
Mixing up 'he' and 'she', 'him' and 'her', etc.
In Cantonese, we use '佢' for a third person pronoun. In English, we have 'he', 'she', 'him' and 'her' and many people mix them the masculine form and the feminine form, especially in conversation.
This mistake is less commonly seen in writing. Let's just say practice makes perfect!
'I am a Chinese.'
Nowadays, the word 'Chinese' is basically used either as an adjective, a collective noun (referring to all the Chinese people) or as the name of the language spoken in China.
So, you can say 'I am Chinese.' or 'I am a Chinese boy / girl / etc.', with 'Chinese' being an adjective.
It is also correct to say 'The Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year', for example. Here, 'the Chinese' refers to Chinese people in general.
Although ... but
You can only use one of these conjunctions in a sentence.
Although I love travelling, I've never been to Japan.
I love travelling but I've never been to Japan.
Although I love travelling, but I've never been to Japan.
Talking about large numbers
In Chinese, wecount in units of 10,000 (一萬). In English, however, we count in 1,000s, so people often confuse large numbers. It's actually fairly easy to remember get the hang of this. Always remember to locate the commas, or break down the number in units of 3, counting from the left:
||No. of zeros (digits) behind the first comma
For example, you are trying to read out '123,000'. As there are three digists behind the first comma, you can read the number in thousands.
The number before the first comma is '123', so it is read 'one hundred and twenty-three thousand'
So, how about a bigger number, say 123,456,789?
There are six digits behind the first comma, so it's read in millions: One hundread twenty-three millions four hundred fifty-six thousands seven hundred and eighty-nine.
Now, try this: 45,234,567,890.
Catholics are Christians
When asked 'Are you a Christian?', many people reply, 'No, I'm a Catholic.' Sorry, but this is wrong.
In English, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is a Christian. Catholics believe in Jesus Christ so, in English, they are Christians. It sounds really strange to say you are a Catholic but not a Christian in English. It's like saying, 'I live in Mong Kok but I don't live in Kowloon.'
Do you want to share your knowledge of common errors in English too?