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Five common English mistakes you never need to make again

By Moya Irvine

The English speakers in the Sprachzeitung team are always very impressed with the language skills of people in Germany, especially readers of World and Press, Business World and Press and Read On! But there are a number of mistakes that even fairly fluent speakers of English make. Some of them are really easy to correct – you just have to be aware that you’re making them. Here’s a list of five common mistakes you never need to make again – or perhaps almost never. J

 

1. “For more informations, please visit our website.”

 In German if you have more than one piece of information you have “Informationen”, but in English, you still only have “information”. “Information” is an uncountable noun in English. If you want to translate “eine Information”  you have to say “a piece of information” or “an item of information”. Lots of separate “Informationen” are “pieces of information” or “items of information”. Whatever you do, don’t say or write “informations”!

Here’s the correct sentence:

“For more information, please visit our website.”

 

2. “This cake is delicious! Is it self-made?”

 “Selbstgemacht” – the obvious translation is “self-made”. Except that if you’re talking about anything made at home rather than in a factory, the correct term is “home-made”.

So next time you want to compliment someone on their baking say:

“This cake is delicious! Is it home-made?”

 

3. “I think that’s a really interesting question. We can discuss about it in our next lesson.”

 Perhaps not. In English you just discuss a subject – there is no need for the “about”.

You should say:

“I think that’s a really interesting question. We can discuss it in our next lesson.”

 

4. “When shall we meet us again?” “We’ll see us tomorrow.”

 These mistakes are also caused by translating directly from German. “Sich treffen” is reflexive, but “to meet” isn’t.  Neither is “to see”.

So say:

“When shall we meet again?”

and

“I’ll see you tomorrow” or just “See you tomorrow”.

 

5. “How old are you?” “I am 25 years.”

 People make life too difficult for themselves here. All you need to say is: “I’m 25.”

“I am 25 years old” and “I am 25 years of age” are also correct,  but no native speaker would say that – much too long and complicated!  “I’m 25” is the best answer. “I am 25 years” is incorrect.