Chapter 31: ELL/Dialect Index

31

English Language Learner (ELL) and Dialect Index

When learning a second language, we naturally apply rules from our first language, but sometimes the rules are different. For example, assigning gender to a window works in Spanish but not in English. At other times, a concept in a new language may not even exist in an old language. For example, English uses articles (a, an, the), but Japanese does not, making them especially tricky to learn. This chapter outlines the most common transfer errors that occur for broad groups of speakers, with links to additional information.

 

In this chapter

Tips for Speakers: European Languages

Tip

Transfer Error

Correction

Don’t use the definite article the with generalizations.

I am studying the politics.

I am studying politics.

Don’t use the definite article the with singular proper nouns.

Warm weather should arrive by the June.

Warm weather should arrive by June.

Do not omit the subject of a sentence.

Was a funny story.

Is raining outside.

That was a funny story.

It is raining outside.

Do not omit here or there in a sentence with a delayed subject.

Are three recipes.

Is a new plan.

Here are three recipes.

There is a new plan.

Study progressive tenses.

They work here for two years.

They have been working here for two years.

Study the use of infinitives and gerunds as objects.

He wants going along.

I regret to call.

He wants to go along.

I regret calling.

Follow order for subjects, verbs, and objects.

The pitcher the ball threw. (or) The ball threw the pitcher.

The pitcher threw the ball.

Do not insert an adverb between a verb and its object.

I played very rapidly the piano piece.

I played the piano piece very rapidly.

Tips for Speakers: Latin American Languages

Tip

Transfer Error

Correction

Place most subjects before the verb.

Help got I with my homework.

I got help with my homework.

Avoid double subjects.

Lupe and Juan they enjoy dancing.

Lupe and Juan enjoy dancing.

Avoid double negatives.

We don’t have no time.

We don’t have any time.

(or)

We have no time.

Use don’t or doesn’t instead of no to negate a verb.

He no like the idea.

They no want pizza.

He doesn’t like the idea.

They don’t want pizza.

Do not omit the subject of a sentence, even the pronoun it.

Was my favorite joke.

Is a beautiful morning.

That was my favorite joke.

It is a beautiful morning.

Do not omit here or there in a sentence with a delayed subject.

Are my travel receipts.

Is a problem.

Here are my travel receipts.

There is a problem.

Do not make adjectives plural.

Thanks for your wonderfuls pies.

Thanks for your wonderful pies.

Do not insert an adverb between a verb and its object.

I threw very fast the ball.

I threw the ball very fast.

Avoid using which to refer to people.

My cousin which is a mechanic can fix it.

My cousin who is a mechanic can fix it.

Tips for Speakers: East Asian Languages

Tip

Transfer Error

Correction

Practice use of count and noncount nouns.

Please give me three egg.

Please give me three eggs.

Use adjectival form of nouns.

That is a beauty lamp.

That is a beautiful lamp.

Study the use of articles (a, an, the).

My friend brought book.

My friend brought a book.

(or)

My friend brought the book.

Study the use of infinitives and gerunds as objects.

She needs taking a break.

Let's delay to run the last laps.

She needs to take a break.

Let's delay running the last laps.

Use objective case pronouns.

Cho threw she the ball.

Cho threw her the ball.

Make sure subjects and verbs agree in number.

Your idea have merit.

Your idea has merit. (or)

Your ideas have merit.

Carefully form past tenses of verbs.

Yesterday I walk to the beach.

Yesterday I walked to the beach.

Study the creation of passive voice.

My suggestion adopt by the group.

My suggestion was adopted by the group.

Learn which conjunctions come in pairs and which do not.

Although we arrived on time, but the waiter didn’t seat us.

We arrived on time, but . . .

(or)

Although we arrived on time, the waiter . . .

Avoid repeating the object in a that clause.

It’s the same radio that I sold you it.

It’s the same radio that I sold you.

Do not place too many adjectives before a noun.

I would like the baked with butter on it salmon fillet.

I would like the salmon fillet that is baked with butter.

Tips for Speakers: Middle Eastern Languages

Tip

Transfer Error

Correction

Study the use of articles (a, an, the).

I will buy car.

I will buy a car.

(or)

I will buy the car.

Don’t use the definite article the with generalizations.

My cousin has a degree in the economics.

My cousin has a degree in economics.

Don’t use the definite article the with most singular proper nouns.

We went to see the Ed Sheeran.

We went to see Ed Sheeran.

Don’t omit linking verbs such as is, are, was, and were.

This school harder than my last one.

This school is harder than my last one.

Study the creation of past-perfect tense.

We were arrived by 3:00 p.m.

We had arrived by 3:00 p.m.

Study progressive tenses.

They work here for two years.

They have been working here for two years.

Learn which verbs do not use progressive tense.

I am owning a cat.

I am needing a litter box.

I own a cat.

I need a litter box.

Use objective case pronouns.

Retu sent she the email.

Retu sent her the email.

Be careful with agreement for her and his.

My dress matched his dress.

My dress matched her dress.

Study the use of infinitives and gerunds as objects.

She volunteers helping the homeless.

I can't resist to ask.

She volunteers to help the homeless.

I can't resist asking.

Follow order for subjects, verbs, and objects.

The manager the report wrote. (or) The report wrote the manager.

The manager wrote the report.

Tips for Speakers: African and Caribbean Languages

Tip

Transfer Error

Correction

Avoid double subjects.

Sharla she loves swimming.

Sharla loves swimming.

Avoid double negatives.

They don’t have no excuse.

They don’t have any excuse.

(or)

They have no excuse.

Study the use of articles (a, an, the).

I want new phone.

I want a new phone.

(or)

I want the new phone.

Make sure subjects and verbs agree in number.

My plan have a problem.

My plan has a problem.

(or)

My plans have a problem.

Use plural nouns after plural numbers.

We have two cat.

We have two cats.

Study the use of the be verb.

The group be meeting.

The group is meeting.

Study the use of past-tense verbs.

After Levon arrived, we eat.

After Levon arrived, we ate.

Tips for Speakers: English Dialects

Tip

Transfer Error

Correction

Avoid double subjects.

Lynn she writes poetry.

Lynn writes poetry.

Use an before a vowel and a before a consonant.

Give me a apple.

I’d like an banana.

Give me an apple.

I’d like a banana.

Use ’s or to form the possessive of most nouns.

I borrowed my dad car.

I borrowed my dad’s car.

Use their instead of they as a possessive.

I went to they concert.

I went to their concert.

Use himself instead of hisself.

He got hisself a new suit.

He got himself a new suit.

Don’t invert the subject-verb order with indefinite pronouns.

Hasn’t nobody seen the movie yet.

Nobody has seen the movie yet.

Don’t use the verb be for habitual action.

He be always fishing.

He is always fishing.

(or)

He often fishes.

Avoid double negatives.

The bike don’t have no reflectors.

The bike doesn't have any reflectors.

(or)

The bike has no reflectors.

Use don’t or doesn’t instead of no to negate a verb.

He no like the idea.

They no want pizza.

He doesn’t like the idea.

They don’t want pizza.

Use isn’t or aren’t instead of ain’t.

My friends ain’t going.

My friends aren’t going.

Use plural nouns after plural numbers.

Let me buy two cake.

Let me buy two cakes.

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