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ELC Santa Barbara
ELC - English Language Center Santa Barbara
Top 10 Overheard Incorrect Phrases April 3rd, 2015

We asked our staff and teachers what phrases they commonly hear students saying that are incorrect. Let’s break our habits of using the incorrect phrases and learn the correct English instead!

  • I live in downtown.
    • -Correct phrase: I live downtown.
    • -Explanation: Certain locations use no preposition. A preposition is a word such as in, at, or on. Locations that use no preposition are downstairs, downtown, inside, outside, upstairs, and uptown. Although you would say I live in Santa Barbara, you would not say I live in downtown. You would simply say, ‘I live downtown’.
  • I’m going to make a test or I made a test.
    • -Correct phrase: I’m going to take a test. I took a test.
    • -Explanation: When you are the student, and the teacher gives you the exam, you ‘take’ the test.  Technically, the teachers is the one who writes/creates/makes your test. The student is not making anything.
  • I don’t can go.
    • -Correct phrase: I can’t go.
    • -Explanation: You can only use one modal verb with the main verb. In the original sentence, the speaker used two modal verbs: don’t and can. This is incorrect. In order to make a modal negative, you just add ‘not’ after the modal. I can (modal verb) + not (negative) + go (main verb).
  • I am going to make a party or I made a party.
  • I am boring.
    • -Correct phrase: It is boring or I am bored.
    • -Explanation:  If you say ‘I am boring’ that means you are saying that you’re not a fun or interesting person.  When you have nothing to do or you don’t like the situation you are in because it is dull, you would need to say ‘I am bored.’  Bored and boring are both adjectives.  The –ing (boring) is used to describe something or someone that causes the feeling of being bored.  The –ed (bored) is used to describe how the person feels.
    • -Examples: That class is boring. That movie is so boring. Matthew was very bored during the terrible movie. Abdul was very bored during the long lecture.
  • I will take a sandwich.
    • -Correct phrase: I had a sandwich or I ate a sandwich.
    • -Explanation: If you say that you will take a sandwich that means you will remove the sandwich from its original location. If you want to say that you ate the sandwich, you would use ‘ate’ or ‘had’.
    • -Examples: I had a sandwich for lunch. I ate a burger for dinner.
  • It was so funny.
    • -Correct phrase: It was fun.
    • -Explanation: You use the word ‘funny’ when someone or something makes you laugh.  You use the word ‘fun’ for something that you really enjoy.
    • -Example: That movie was so funny! I couldn’t stop laughing. My teacher is so funny; he makes me laugh in class.  I love going rock-climbing, it is so fun.  Surfing at the beach today was very fun.
  • It’s good for my healthy.
    • -Correct phrase: It’s good for my health.
    • -Explanation: You have to use the noun form ‘health’ after ‘my’ because ‘my’ is a possessive pronoun.  Possessive pronouns are always followed by a noun.
    • -Example: Where is my (possessive pronoun) backpack (noun)?
  • I enjoy being in the nature.
    • -Correct phrase: I enjoy being in nature.
    • -Explanation: You don’t use the definite article ‘the’ with nature because nature is a general location and environment. You can be in nature in many different places, so there is not just one specific place that is know as ‘the nature.’
  • I am confusing.
    • -Correct phrase: I am confused.
    • -Explanation: When you don’t understand something because it’s complicated or unclear, you would use the –ed form (confused) because that is how you are feeling.  The –ing form (confusing) is used to describe something that is causing the feeling of being confused.
    • -Examples: John is so confused (how John is feeling about something); I don’t understand what the teacher is saying. That movie was really confusing (describing the movie); I did not understand what was going on in the movie.

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