Common Language Mistakes in the IELTS and TOEFL

The IELTS and the TOEFL are the two most popular exam of English proficiency. Non-native speakers of the language, like Filipinos, are required to take the test should they wish to study, work, or migrate abroad.

One of the common errors of test-takers is forgetting that these examinations are of international standard, thus there are some expressions that are acceptable in their country but are not allowable in these tests. This is what we call Filipinoism. Also, test-takers must be aware of the common grammatical and lexical errors committed.

Here are some of the most common mistakes and their corrections.

  1. Subject-verb agreement

Correction: Singular subject + s-form; Plural subject + base form

                        “The man thinks he is important.”

                        “The men think they are important.”

  1. Subject-verb agreement part 2: “One of the…” statements

Example: One of the billions of people of the world are your missing wife.

Correction: How many is “One”? It is singular.

                      “One of the billions of people of the world is your missing wife.”

  1. The double negative.

Example: “I wasn’t no beggar.”

Correction: Do not put not and no together

                       “I was not a beggar.”


  1. Do/does/did + past tense

Example: “Did you thought I will forget?”

Correction: Do/does/did + present tense

                        “Did you think I will forget?”


  1. Misuse of words due to direct translation

Example:  “Buksan mo ang computer” becomes “Open the computer”

Correction: “Turn on/Turn off the computer.”


  1. Redundancy: “I personally think…” or “In my own opinion…”

Correction: If it is what you think then it is probably personal. Also, if it is your opinion it is probably your own. Why repeat these words?


  1. The difference between few and little.

Correction: Remember that few is used for countable nouns…

                        Few people                 Few books          Few clothes    

                       …whereas little is used for uncountable nouns

                     Little sand                      Little water         Little air


These are the most common mistakes that we Filipinos make when sitting English examinations. If you will examine these errors, they are actually quite simple. The problem of many test-takers is, in the heat of the moment when they are writing or speaking, they tend to be careless. Make sure that you are very careful of your Grammar and word usage. Practice, practice, practice. There is no better way to improve your English than to continuously use it and use it correctly all the time.


Good luck!


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