How to avoid these mistakes in English


By Prof. Kev Nair

When you speak or write English, do you make many mistakes? Do you often fail to use words and word-groups in the way in which they’re currently used in English?

In fact, almost everyone makes some mistake or other -- at some time or other. This is a fact. Most advanced learners do. Even expert-level users of English sometimes do. Yes, almost everyone tends to make mistakes. This happens especially when they use words and word groups in particular contexts. Only, some people make fewer mistakes, and others, more.

These mistakes take several forms: Many people tend to use words and phrases in ways that modern English usage does not accept as correct or proper. Many give words and phrases meanings that are different from their meanings in current usage. Many go against the currently accepted grammar of those words and phrases. Many use two or more words together in ways that are considered unacceptable in current usage. Many use word combinations that the current usage considers unacceptable. Many confuse one word with another.

Why you should avoid these mistakes

1). These mistakes prevent the English you speak or write from being accepted as good English.

2). And worse, these mistakes prevent you from being clear to your listeners or readers -- because the listeners and readers expect words and phrases to carry only those meanings that the current usage has assigned to them. And they expect only those words to be used together that sound right (according to the current usage) when used together.

3). And there’s yet another problem. If you’re not sure of the principles of current usage, you’ll run into a serious difficulty: Suppose you’re in the middle of saying something or writing something. And suppose a doubt comes up in your mind whether it’s acceptable to put words together in a particular way. Then this is what happens: Your attention gets diverted from what you’re saying or writing -- to the language you’re using to compose it. That is, you’re now concerned not about the content, but about the form. And you lose the thread of what you’re saying or writing. And the result? The flow of your speech or writing gets cut off -- slowed down. And you falter. And all this makes it difficult for you to remain fluent.

How correct usage helps you communicate effectively

The tips on usage I’ll be posting here have two related aims:

(i) To make you become aware of the common usage-related mistakes -- mistakes that even highly educated people tend to make in English; and

(ii) To tell you how to avoid those mistakes.

Study these notes carefully. And don’t let the lack of awareness of current English usage prevent you from speaking and writing English fluently. And accurately, clearly and effectively. That is, as accurately, as clearly and as effectively as the situation needs -- and permits.

English Usage Tip for the week

Posted on January 22, 2020

Copyright © Kev Nair 2020. All rights reserved.

“historic” OR “historical”?: What’s the difference in usage?

Don’t confuse the word “historic” with the word “historical”.

If something is old and considered important in history, you can use the word “historic” to describe it.

There are several historic places in our town.

That castle is an ancient historic building.

There must be an all-out effort to protect these historic monuments/ landmarks/ temples/ churches/ mosques.

Those are historic sites. Many ancient battles have taken place there.

North Paravur in Kerala is a historic city/ town.

These customs and values are part of our historic heritage.

That’s a new book on our historic freedom struggle.

That was a historic uprising/ battle against the British rule.

Some of those buildings are of great historic interest.

You can also use this word (“historic”) to describe something that’s not old, but which, you think, might be considered important at some time in the future – or is likely to be remembered because of its importance.

What happened at the UN General Assembly last week is a truly historic event.

This year’s summit of the two Government heads will be remembered as a historic occasion/ meeting;

Many consider the Senate resolution as a historic decision/ move.

Here are some more word-combinations containing the word “historic":

historic changes; a historic day; a historic moment; a historic visit; a historic election victory.

Let’s now take up the other word “historical”. What does the word “historical” mean? Of course, “historic” and “historical” are somewhat related. But they don’t mean the same thing.

As we’ve now seen, “historic” usually means something old that is considered important in history – or even something new or not very old that is likely to be considered important at some time in the future. But you see, the other word “historical” usually refers only to something that existed or happened in the past or is connected with the past (and not to something new or not very old that is likely to be considered important at some time in the future).

You can also use this word (“historical”) to describe something that has to do with the study of history.

Keep this in mind: Unlike something “historic”, what is “historical” doesn’t have to be something that is considered important, though often it is.

Here are some examples showing the use of “historical”:

He described the event in its historical context.

Some of those events are of historical importance.

They gave a historical account of how the First World War began.

a historical book/ film/ movie/ novel/ play; historical documents/ records; historical awareness; historical facts; historical factor; historical research; historical evidence; historical impact; historical perspective; historical tradition; historical mistake.

Copyright © Kev Nair 2020. All rights reserved.

Archives: Prof. Kev Nair's
Tips on English Usage

To read the previously posted Tips on English Usage, please provide your full name and your email address.

Access to the archives is completely FREE. There are no charges at all.




Access Archives


Download a free Handbook NOW!

How to pick up Fluency in English

"How to pick up fluency in English...
thro' self-study"

Dy: 1/8, Pages 40, PDF Format.

Download this ebook now, absolutely free of cost! Find out how you can teach yourself how to speak English fluently. (Click on the e-book to download it)

Join Our Mailing List

Join our mailing list to receive news about special offers and more. All mailing list members will be eligible for special discounts from time to time.
(Before you click "Send message", please tick the box next to the "I'm not a Robot" reCAPTCHA authentication below.)


World's First!

Fluentzy English Fluency Development Course Books

Fluentzy®: The English Fluency Encyclopedia

by Prof. Kev Nair

Buy Paperback Version

Buy Ebook Version

Buy Books Offline

• "World's first dedicated course in English fluency building" - THE TIMES OF INDIA.

• "Globally sought after" - The New Indian Express.

• "Internationally popular" - THE TIMES OF INDIA.

• "No, this is not just another crash course in spoken English..." - THE HINDU.

• “If you tend to use English in your day-to-day life, and if you are looking for achieving excellence in it, here’s the final word on the line of authorities you need to follow: Quirk for grammar, Fowler for usage, and KevNair for fluency.” - The New Indian Express.

• "‘Fluentzy’... one of its kind in the world." - THE TIMES OF INDIA.

• "Classic" - THE HINDU.

• "Definitive" - The New Indian Express.

• "Definitive" - The New Sunday Express.

• "Definitive" - THE HINDU Business Line.

• "Legendary" - Competition Success Review.

• "Authoritative" - THE HINDU Business Line.

Read more

Read Sample Pages

• B1: Idea units & Fluency.

• B2: Speech Generation & Flow Production.

• B3: Teaching your Tongue & Speech Rhythm.

• B4: Key Speech-initiators & Speech-unit Patterns.

• S1: Fluency in Functional English (Part 1).

• S2: Fluency in Functional English (Part 2).

• S3: Fluency in Telephone English & Sectoral English.

• B5: How to Deal with Hesitation.

• B6: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Part 1).

• B7: Packing of Information in Speech.

• B8: Impromptu Speech-flow Techniques.

• S4: Fluency Building and Mouth Gymnastics.

• S5: Fluency in speaking about people.

• B9: Fluency in Asking Questions.

• B10: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Part 2).

• B11: Fluency & Moment-to-Moment Speech-production.

• B12: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Part 3).

• S6: Fluency in Topicwise English (Part 1).

• S7: Fluency & Pronunciation.

• S8: Fluency in Topicwise English (Part 2).

Free Features

• "How to Master Advanced English Vocabulary" by Prof. Kev Nair.

Tips on English Usage from Prof. Kev Nair.

Wordpedia™ by Prof. Kev Nair

Great Books on Fluent-English
Vocabulary Power

The Complete Fluency Words  Dictionary of Fluency Word Clusters Dictionary of Essential Fluency Phrases  Dictionary of Active Fluency Combinations Core Fluency Thesaurus  Comprehensive Adjectival Fluency Dictionary  Narrative Fluency Dictionary  Thesaurus of Phrasal Verbs Thesaurus of Descriptive English  Thesaurus of Fluent English Adjectives

"For free flow of English... These books are for people who want to join in a conversation in English but are inhibited for lack of the right words, for those who have the essential education to converse in English, but just cannot decide on the words or rather word combos." - THE HINDU.

Read more | Free Catalogue

Other books by Prof. Kev Nair

Bhagavad Gita of Inner Courage

The Bhagavad Gita
of Inner Courage

"This is one of the rare publications on the Bhagavad Gita, wherein the stamp of assiduous research is evident." - THE HINDU.

Read more