How did you do? Count the number of
mistakes you found and correctly corrected!
|Less than 20 mistakes
||You need to spend some intensive time with my
"Study Guide"! (ESPECIALLY since the problems were already underlined
||My nine-year-old (native speaker) son also found
that many. (He was in the fourth grade at the time, so if you are a college
student, this may not sound like good news!)
||Good job! You have a good foundation in English.
Using my "Study Guide" to learn how to recognize and avoid even more "common
mistakes" will help
your English level continue to improve.
||Great job! You found most of the problems. If you
can also avoid them when you write and speak English, you probably
have a very good English level!
||Should I believe you? Many native speakers can't
do this well! I guess that you are a graduate student studying
English at a wonderful place like NPU!
Notes about the underlined things above:
Some of these sentences are a little contrived (like the paragraph
structure as a whole), but they are grammatically acceptable. I had to do
this so I could make all the errors! If you have questions, ask a teacher!
This is correct: ...many ways;
for example, she has...
The way it is written above is also correct. See my note on "for
Be careful with pronouns. If she taught me,
then I learned from her. See my note on
A comma before the "and" at the end of a
series/list is usually left out, but never "wrong." It is considered
optional if there is little chance for the reader to misunderstand.
Americans say "fourth grade" while British
people (and Chinese) usually say "grade four." I do not think either would
normally be capitalized since we do not capitalize the names of school
subjects other than proper nouns such as languages (e.g., chemistry, physics and English).
Homework is not countable.
Some students change the tenses to reflect a
continuing influence from the writer's mother. While this is not
necessarily wrong, it is certainly not required to make the sentences
correct. How do you know the influence continues? I believe the author's
intent is to show the influence of his/her mother, looking back to before
the author moved away to go to college.
The past tense of "learn" in America is "learned"
while the British use "learnt."
Prepositions and holidays can be tricky.
If a holiday (or vacation) lasts more than one day, Americans talk about
doing things "during" the holiday or holidays (with the holiday's name put
in between "the" and "holiday"). If you are talking about a one-day
holiday you say you did it "on" the day. This is especially tricky when
holidays like "Christmas" and "Chinese New Year" can refer to EITHER a day
or a longer period of time! Authors avoid confusion by adding helping
words; for example, "We shopped a lot during Christmas, but opened the
gifts on Christmas Day."
(Also see my note on
holidays and articles.)
"Bring" must agree with "memories," not with
"years" (which is part of a prepositional phrase). "Memories bring," and
"memory brings" are both OK.
The word "comfort" is rarely used as a countable
noun, but if this is the author's intention it should read "many
comforts." Similarly, in a formal (but rare) usage, the author could
write, "brings me much comfort." Usually, however, "much" is used in
negative sentences and questions when the noun is non-countable.
My students often correct the final sentence by
saying, "I wish I could be like her someday." Technically this is
acceptable, but it implies that this will never happen. Perhaps this
reflects a Chinese mindset or mode of expression, but more likely it is a
misunderstanding on the difference between wish and hope
(see my Better English Study Guide). I think most young
Americans would see "becoming like a cherished mother" as something that
is possible (someday), and thus would use "I hope I can" instead of "I
wish I could." (See "wish/hope")