Common mistakes in English – Misplaced words

                  Miscellaneous examples

360. The subject of the sentence misplaced

Don’t say: Last week visited our school a man.

√ Say: A man visited our school last week.

In most English sentences place the subject first, the verb next, then the object with the rest following

361. The subject misplaced in questions

Don’t say: You were at the cinema yesterday?

                   They’ll come with us tomorrow?

√ Say: Were you at the cinema yesterday

            Will they come with us tomorrow?

In interrogative sentences place the subject after the verb. If the tense is compound, the subject comes after the auxiliary, and the ‘est follow.

Note: Exception to this rule is occasionally made in spoken English, but students are advised to follow the rule.

362. The subject misplaced in questions beginning with an interrogative word

Don’t say: Why you were absent last Friday?

√ Say: Why were you absent last Friday?

In questions beginning with an interrogative word like what, when, where, how place the verb before the subject as in all questions.

363. The subject misplaced after never, etc.

Don’t say: Never I have heard of such a thing.

√ Say: Never have I heard of such a thing.

When never, seldom, rarely, neither, nor, not only, no sooner, are pace at the beginning of a complete clause, the verb must come before the subject as in a question.

364. All… not used instead of Not all

Don’t say: All people are not hard-working.

√ Say: Not all people are hard-working.

The first sentence is wrong because it makes all people lazy.

Note: Similarly, everybody doesn’t like dancing should be Not everybody likes dancing.

365. The subject misplaced in indirect questions

Don’t say:The teacher asked me what games did I play?

✓ Say: The teacher asked me what games I played.

In indirect question follow the usual order of words subject first and then verb.

366. The direct object misplaced

Don’t say: He touched with his hand the ball.

√ Say: He touched the hall with his hand.

The object of a transitive verb generally comes directly after the verb

367. The indirect object misplaced

Don’t say: I showed to her some of my stamps.

√ Say: I showed some of my stamps to her.

If the indirect object is preceded by a preposition, place it after the direct object

Note: The indirect object usually comes first without a preposition –> I showed her some of my stamps.

368. The qualifying adjective misplaced

Don’t say: My uncle has a garden very large.

√ Say: My uncle has a very large garden.

Put the adjective immediately before the noun it qualifies


Questions can be formed in three ways:

1. By putting the verb before the subject. Only use this method with the following twenty-one verbs:

am, is, are, was, were; have, has, had; shall, should; will, would; can, could; may, might; must; need; dare; ought; used.

Examples: Are you ready? Can you write well?

                       Will he come tomorrow? May I go now?

2. By using do, does, did, followed by the subject and then the infinitive (without to). Use this form with all verbs except the twenty-one given above. The word order is:

Do (does, did) + subject + infinitive

Examples: Do you come here every day?

                       Does the child learn English?

                       Did they go to the theatre?

3. By using question words. The question word always begins the question, but the verb must be put before the subject as in questions of types 1 and 2.

Examples: Why are you late? When did you come? Where is it? Whom did you see? Which book do you want?

If the question word is the subject of the sentence, put the verb after the subject:

Who wrote the letter? Whose dog bit the man?

369. The past participle misplaced

Don’t say: The ordered goods haven’t arrived.

√ Say: The goods ordered haven’t arrived.

The goods ordered is a shortened form of The goods which have been ordered.

370. The relative clause misplaced

Don’t say: A girl has a pony who is in our class.

√ Say: A girl who is in our class has a pony.

Put the relative clause immedwtefy after the noun to which it refers.

Note: Enclose a relative clause that may be omitted between commas –> My brother George, who is in another class, has a new bicycle. A relative clause that can’t be omitted is not enclosed within commas “The boy who spoke to me is my brother.”

371. The conjunction misplaced in a time clause

Don’t say: Emma when she arrived the boat had already gone.

√ Say: When Emma arrived the boat had already gone.

Place the conjunction introducing an adverbial clause of time at the beginning of a clause.

372. Correlative conjunctions misplaced

Don’t say: Paul neither speaks English nor French.

√ Say: Paul speaks neither English nor French.

Place correlative conjunctions (that is conjunctions used in pairs, like neither … nor, not only … but also) before words of the same bad of speech.

373. The ordinal numeral misplaced

Don’t say: I’ve read the two first chapters.

✓ Say: I’ve read the first two chapters.

Place ordinal numerals before cardinal numerals. There can’t be two first chapters, only one. Similarly, we must say “The last two (three, etc) and not the two (three, etc) last.

374. The indefinite article misplaced with such

Don’t say: I never met a such good man before.

✓ Say: I never met such a good man before.

Place the indefinite article a or an after such such a good man.

375. The definite article misplaced with half

Don’t say: The half year is nearly finished.

✓ Say: Half the year is nearly finished.

Half the year is shortened form of half of the year

376. The most used instead of most of the

Don’t say: The most of girls are not present.

✓ Say: Most of the girls are not present.

The phrase the most of is incorrect. Say most of the.

377. The apostrophe (’) misplaced with contractions

Don’t write: Didn’t, hasn’t, isn’t, aren’t, etc.

✓ Write: Didn’t, hasn’t isn’t, aren’t, etc.

378. Mentioning oneself first

Don’t say: Only I and my mother are present.

✓ Say: Only my mother and I are present.

English idiom requires that when a person is speaking of himself/herself and others, he/she must mention the other person or persons first and leave himself/herself last

             Correct order of words

1. Subject                  2. Verb                 3. Object

1. The object is usually placed immediately after the verb.

Example: I speak English very well.

2. The indirect object usually comes before the direct object without a preposition.

Example: I gave him the money.

3. An expression of time comes after an expression of place.

Example: We stayed there all day.

4. Place adverbs of time and degree, such as always, often, never, nearly, hardly, scarcely, before the verb, or between the auxiliary and the verb.

Examples: I never see that man or I have never seen that man.

Note: With the verb to be place the adverb after the verb: He is never late.

5. In indirect questions the subject comes first and then the verb.

Example: I want to know where they went.

6. In compound verbs with two auxiliaries, place not after the first one.

Example: She could not have been there.

7. In the negative infinitive, not comes before to.

Example: I told him not to go there.

Common mistakes in English – Misplaced words
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