Sunday, October 6, 2013

list of the most common mistakes made by Turkish speakers

 I have found  the following list very useful. Almost all Turkish students make the same mistakes while speaking or writing English.


Challenges Faced in the Turkish Classroom 

Bad English :(
Good English :)


Listen TO something/someone
I listen to music. :)
She listened to her friend talk about politics. :)
They’ve been listening to that CD for over an hour now. :)
I’m listening you. :(
Go TO somewhere
Come TO somewhere

Monica goes to work every Monday. :)
I went to Germany last year.  :)
I went in Germany last year.  :(
I’ve come to class 5 times this week already. :)
Exceptions: home, abroad, here/there, somewhere [No TO]
I went home last night.  :)
I went to home last night.  :(
We’re going abroad next summer.  :)
Kara came here to visit her aunt.  :)
Kara came to here to visit her aunt. :(
I’ve gone there before.  :)
Wait FOR someone/something
So… you’ll wait for me at the station, right? :)
I had to wait for my visa before I could leave for Russia. :)
Wait for me. :)
Wait me. :(
I’ll wait my friend. :(

Get married TO someone
Marry someone [NO PREPOSITION]
get married WITH someone :(
I got married to Mark when I was 20 years old. :)
I got married with Mark when I was 20 years old.  :(
John will marry Tracy next year in the old church. :)
John will marry with Tracy next year in the old church. :(
Go ON vacation/holiday
I went on vacation last summer. :)
I went to vacation last summer. :(
Complain ABOUT something/someone
You are always complaining about your boss. :)
You are always complaining your boss. :(
I want to complain about my room, room 103.  It’s very dirty. :)
Be afraid OF something/someone
Be afraid FROM something/someone :(
I’m afraid of bees. :)
I’m afraid from bees. :(
Be jealous OF something/someone
I’m jealous of my big brother.  He gets everything he wants. :)
Mark is jealous of his friend because he got the better job. :)
My boyfriend is jealous me. :(
Help WITH something
Help TO somebody/something :(
Could you please help with the dishes? :)
Will you help your mother with the laundry? :)
Will you help to your mother? :(
Visit somebody/somewhere [NO PREPOSITION]
Visit TO somebody/somewhere :(
I will visit my mother next week. :)
I will visit to my mother next week. :(
I visited the retirement home in Ankara.  :)
I visited to the retirement home in Ankara. :(
Ask somebody [NO PREPOSITION]
Ask TO somebody :(
I asked him to help me. :)
I asked to him to help me. :(
frequency time a week [NO PREPOSITION]
How often do you go to work? :)
I go to work five times a week. :)
I go to work five times in a week. :(
How often do you play football? )
I play football once a week. :)
I play football once in a week. :(
For” is used for length of time.
I’ve lived here for 5 years.  :)
I lived here 5 years.  :(
We were at the concert for 5 hours. :)
We were at concert 5 hours.  :(
Mark’ll be gone for about a week.  :)

Be + Emotion:

Emotions and feelings are generally NOT verbs in English.  They are adjectives, or we use passive structures for them.
She’s happy. :)
She happy. :(
He’s bored. :)
He bored. :(
I was tired yesterday. :)
I tired yesterday. :(


to have” is a normal verb in English when used to refer to possession.  It needs a helping verb for questions or negatives.
I have a car.  :)
Do you have a car?  :)
Have you a car?  :(
She doesn’t have a car. :)
She hasn’t a car. :(
My brother didn’t have a driver’s license last year. :)
My brother hadn’t a driver’s license last year. :(
In British English you can use “have got.”  This has a present simple meaning, but it’s a present perfect structure.  The helping verb is “have” and the main verb is “to get”.
I’ve got a car. :)
Have you got a car?  :)
Have you a car?  :(
She hasn’t got a car. :)
She hasn’t a car. :(
Notice in the past or future tenses I must use the regular verb “to have.”
They had a house before the hurricane. :)
They had got a house before the hurricane. :(
They will have a house in the future. :)
They will have got a house in the future. :(

Can I have…?:

Can/Could I have…?” is used for polite request, not “Can I take…?
Can I have a pen? :)
Can I take a pen? :(
Can I borrow your pen for a second? :)
Can I take your pen for a second? :(
Could you give me some advice? :)


We use “in” for future time expressions, not “later“.
I will go to work in 1 hour. :)
I will go to work 1 hour later. :(
I will leave to do my military service in 2 weeks. :)
I will leave to do my military service 2 weeks later. :(
Later” is used without a time expression.
See you later. :)
Later” is used after a previous event.
I went to Mark and Judy’s wedding and then 2 weeks later I met my current husband. :)   (The first event is the wedding.  The second even is meeting her current husband.)

It can be:

Again, “can” is not used for possibility.  We use “might + V1, “maybe” or “It’s possible“.
Mary:  I think Sarah is sick.
Mark:  I don’t know.  She might be. :)
Mark:  It’s possible. :)
Mark:  I don’t know.  Maybe. :)
Mark: It can be. :(
It can be” can be used as part of a statement implying ABILITY.
Student:  Do we always use “say” in reported speech?
Teacher:  It can be (used in reported speech), but we use “tell” more often. :)
Student:  Can we use “gear” for clothing?
Teacher:  It can be [used for clothing], but usually it refers to machines. :)

Wrong uses of Make/Do:

In English we do NOT make/do sport, make/do practice, or make/do exercise.  These are verbs in English.  We also don’t make homework, we do homework.
He practiced his English pronunciation yesterday. :)
He made practice his English pronunciation yesterday. :(
He’s going to the gym tomorrow. :)
He’s going to make sport tomorrow. :(
He needs to exercise more. :)
He needs to make exercise more. :(
Mr. Johnson, I did my homework. :)
Mr. Johnson, I made my homework. :(

Do Military Service:

In English, we “do our military service” not “go to soldier.”
I have to go and do my military service in 2 months. :)
I have to go to soldier in 2 months. :(
He did his military service in Diyarbakir. :)
He went to soldier in Diyarbakir. :(


Here” and “there” are generally NOT the subject or object of a sentence in English.  You should use “it” or “this/that place” or something similar.
I like it here. :)
I like this place. :)
I like here. :(

It’s beautiful. :)
That place is wonderful. :)
There is beautiful. :(

This is Turkey. :)
Here is Turkey. :(

Also notice that we almost never use “in here/there.”
I work there. :)
I work in there. :(
I live here. :)
I live in here. :(

Know how to do something:

In English, we use “know how to + Verb1” to talk about ability or knowledge of something.
I know how to drive a car. :)
I know driving a car. :(
My mom knows how to bake a cake. :)
He knows how to play football. :)
He knows playing football. :(

Must vs. Have to and Mustn’t vs. Can’t:

These are often confused among foreign speakers of English.  “Must” and “Mustn’t” are VERY strong and often only used for serious things like strong rules or prohibitions.  “Have to” and “Can’t” are much more common.
“I have to do the laundry today.” is better than “I must do the laundry.”
“I have to wear a uniform at work.” is better than “I must wear a uniform at work.”
“You can’t smoke here.” is better than “You mustn’t smoke here.”
“You can’t wear jeans at work.” is better than “You mustn’t wear jeans at work.”

Infinitive of purpose:

We use the infinitive (to + V1) for purpose or reason in normal sentences.
I went to the store to buy some food. :)
I went to the store for buying some food. :(
I come to English class to learn English. :)


“The” ALWAYS comes before some words.
The same
He eats the same thing every day. :)
He eats same thing every day. :(
The last time
The last time I went to Burger King was 2 days ago. :)
The first, the second, the third, the fourth,
The first thing I did was to lock all the doors. :)
We do NOT use “the” for singular countries or cities.
Unemployment is a problem in Turkey. :)
Unemployment is a problem in the Turkey. :(
I live in Izmit. :)
I live in the Izmit. :(
Other words that always or almost always take “the”:  the weather, the news, the newspaper, the bank, the cinema, the park, the library, the future, the past
We DO use “the” for collective countries.
Turkey vs. The Republic of Turkey :)
Russia vs. The Soviet Union :)
America vs. The United States :)
Czechoslovakia vs. The Czech Republic :)
Britain vs. The United Kingdom :)
The” is used for instruments.
I play the guitar. :)
He plays the saxophone. :)

Common word confusion:

Too, Very, and So

Too” is only used for problems in English.  It does NOT mean “a lot of” or “very”.
too + adjective (+ to + Verb1) or too much/many + noun
“He is too short to play basketball.” means “He isn’t tall enough to play basketball.” or “He can’t play basketball”.
“The piano is too big to fit through the door.” means “The piano can’t fit through the door.”
So” is used to increase the strength of an emotion in a sentence and is generally more idiomatic.  It often reflects the emotions of the speaker.  It’s also often used in exaggeration.
So + adjective.
Remember:  If we use a noun we need to use
such a/an + adjective + noun.
“It was so gross.” means “I thought it was really disgusting.”
It was such a gross hamburger.
“She is so beautiful.” means “I think she is really beautiful.”
She is such a beautiful singer.
Very” increases the strength of the adjective it modifies.  It is often used for facts.
very + adjective :)
very + noun :(
very +verb :(

“She is very tired.” is stronger than “She is tired.”
“She is very hungry.” is stronger than “She is hungry.”
He has very money. :(
He has a lot of money. :)
I am very working. :(
I am working very hard. :)
I am working a lot. :)

Fun vs. Funny

Jokes are funny.  They make you laugh. :)
Going to a party is fun.  You have a good time. :)

Job vs. Work

Work” is uncountable.
Job” is countable.
I had a job to do yesterday. :)
I did the job well. :)
I did the work well. :(
Nobody likes extra work. :)
Nobody likes extra works. :(

Always vs. Every time

Always” is an adverb of frequency in English.  “Every time” is not.  “Every time” has a completely different grammatical function.
I always go to the store. :)
I every time go to the store. :(
I go to the store every time. :(

Every time” means “Each time/When something happens, the same thing always occurs.” It’s a subordinating conjunction.
I take the bus every time I go to Istanbul. =  When I go to Istanbul, I always take the bus.
Every time I try to feed my cat, he tries to bite me. = Each time I try to feed my cat, he always tries to bite me.

Might vs. Can

In English, “can” is used for ability.  “Might” is used for possible events in the future.  “May” can also be used like “might“, but it is more formal.
I can swim. :) (ability)
I could ride a bike when I was five. :) (ability in the past)
I might go to Istanbul next weekend. (possibility for the future)
I can go to Istanbul next weekend. :( [If we say this it means "I am able to go to Istanbul next weekend"]
My friend Mike might come to visit me this weekend, but he isn’t sure. :) (possibility for the future)
My friend Mike can come to visit me this weekend, but he isn’t sure. :(
I may eat this cake later if I get hungry. :) (possibility for the future)

Come back vs. Turn back

I left Istanbul on the 23rd and I came back on the 30th. :)
I left Istanbul on the 23rd and I turned back on the 30th. :(
Oh, you’re going on vacation!  When do you plan to come back? :)
Oh, you’re going on vacation!  When do you plan to turn back? :(

Say vs. Tell

Say” is used for general statements that aren’t necessarily used to address someone or if I’m not sure of the fact.  Generally, this is for reported statements without object pronouns/speakers.  It’s also used for direct quotes.
Subject + say
Well, she said she was sick, but I’m not sure she was telling the truth. :)
She said it was her birthday. :) (She wasn’t talking directly to me)
She said me it was her birthday. :(
She said, “He was the best husband a women could have hoped for.” :) (It’s a direct quote)
Tell” means “to inform” or “to explain”.  It is used much more often and is for when a person is told something directly from another speaker.  Basically, if you are including an object pronoun/speaker then you should definitely use “tell”.
Subject + tell + object speaker. :)
Subject + tell + to + object speaker. :(
She told me that she was sick. :)
She told me it was her birthday. :) (She spoke directly to me.)
She told to me it was her birthday. :(

To relax vs. Relaxed

Relax is a VERB.
I relaxed on the beach on vacation. :)
We will relax on vacation in two weeks. :)
Relaxed is an ADJECTIVE.
They were relaxed because they didn‘t have any homework to do last weekend. :)

Turn on/Turn off & Answer/Hang up vs. Open/Close

We use turn on/turn off for electronics.  For phones we use answer/hang up.  We cannot use open/closeOpen/close is for things and places.
Hey, turn on the TV.  I want to see if Lost is on.  :)
Can you turn the radio off?  I’m trying to study. :)
Can you close the radio?  I’m trying to study.  :(
Mr. Hatfield usually opens the store around 6 o’clock. :)
I tried to close the door quietly so as to not wake my parents. :)
I tried to answer the phone, but the caller had hung up before I could get there.  :)
I tried to open the phone, but the caller had closed it before I could get there. :(

Unemployed vs. Unemployment

Unemployed is an ADJECTIVE.  It has an “-ed” ending.
Unemployed people don’t have jobs. :)
Unemployment is a NOUN.  It has a “-ment” ending.
Unemployment is high in Turkey. :)

Bored vs. Boring

“Bored” basically means I don’t like something anymore.  I am uninterested.
He is bored because he has nothing to do. :)
“Boring” basically means it makes you bored.
The book is boring because the story isn’t good. :)

Excited vs. Nervous

“Excited” means something is fun or enjoyable and so you feel excited.
I’m excited because I get to go to Istanbul tonight and see my best friend. :)
I’m excited because my birthday is next week. :)
“Nervous” means something is worrisome and so you feel anxious.
I’m nervous because I have a test today. :)
He’s nervous because he is going swimming for the first time and he doesn’t know how to swim. :)


These words are not used in English like they are in Turkish.  We generally use “to have a good time” or “fun” instead.
We went to Bodrum on holiday.  We had a really good time. :)
We went to Bodrum on holiday.  We really enjoyed. :(
We went to a really fun night club. :)
We went to a really enjoyable night club. :( (Note:  We do use this.  It just sounds rather formal.)


Perfect is RARELY used as an adjective in English.  It is too strong.
It was an excellent concert. :)
It was a perfect concert. :(
The play was wonderful. :)
The play was perfect. :(


In English, we do NOT use reflexive pronouns with “feel“.
I feel tired. :)
I feel myself tired. :(
He feels really sad. :)
He feels himself really sad. :(


05/02 = “The fifth of April” or “April fifth” :)
Five April. :(

Answering “How are you?”:

We do NOT say “Thank you” as an answer to this question.
Laura:  How are you?
Bruce:  I’m fine, thanks, and you? :)
Bruce:  Doin’ well. :)
Bruce:  I’m not bad, you? :)
Bruce:  Thank you. :(

How do you know?:

In English we say, “How do you know?“, not “Where do you know?
How do you know I was with my Samantha? :)
Where do you know I was with my Samantha? :(

Conjunctions and Writing:

In WRITTEN English, a sentence that starts with a conjuction (but, because, and, so, etc.) should NOT make a sentence.  A conjunction connects two clauses.
I went to the mall, but we didn’t buy anything. :)
I went to the mall.  But we didn’t buy anything.  :(
I like Istanbul because there is a lot to do there.  :)
Because there is a lot to do, I like Istanbul. :)
I like Istanbul.  Because there is a lot to do there. :(
With coordinate conjunctions (so, and, nor, but, or, for, yet) we can start a sentence occasionally, but it is not recommended for learners of English as it’s very tricky to do.


  • By Hanieh, September 22, 2011 @ 2:51 am
    Please add the pronunciation of /æ/ and /e/. They always have difficulty with these two as they don’t have /æ/ in Turkish.
  • By turklis1, October 9, 2011 @ 7:43 pm
    Hi Hanieh, thanks. While they don’t have /ae/ in Turkey, I’ve never noticed it to cause communication breakdowns. Good catch though.
  • By Mrs Roach, October 28, 2011 @ 3:18 pm
    I started working on the common mistakes myself. Having seen yours, I quit. May I borrow them? I’ll give a link.
    Thank you so much.
  • By Dr Jerry Morse, September 21, 2012 @ 6:10 am
    What a contribution! Now retired as professor of foreign language education, I’m astonished to so quickly find such information in response to a question from my wife, the supervisor for a Turkish candidate’s dissertation. I’ll synthesize the information to some principles, but I’m sure your version of the same would be a welcome addition for many readers. Well done.
  • By tuba, December 3, 2012 @ 1:42 am
    That’s a great site, and the information is great. Thank you very much for this perfect site, and your study. I will use the information for my paper. How can I give reference with your name?
  • By Ecar, March 18, 2013 @ 10:40 pm
    05/02 = “The fifth of April” or “April fifth” ”
    Is it wrong to say “April the fifth”?
  • By turklis1, April 1, 2013 @ 5:37 pm
    “April the fifth” would be very formal. It’s rare to hear or see it as such.

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