Common errors with adjectives and adverbs in English

 

This is a free sample from the new 200 Common Errors in English Course!

Download: Text & Quiz / Audio
(Right-click each link and select “Save as…”)

Today we’ll focus on mistakes with adjectives and adverbs. The first one involves the word “enough”:

Error #72

Don’t say:

  • This box isn’t enough big for all the books.

Say:

  • This box isn’t big enough for all the books.

Enough goes after adjectives, adverbs, and verbs:

  • Are you old enough to see this movie?
  • She’s smart enough to take the advanced class.
  • You sing well enough to be a professional!
  • The teacher speaks slowly enough for me to understand.
  • I play the piano, but I don’t practice enough.
  • Make sure you eat enough now so that you’re not hungry later.

Enough goes before nouns:

  • There are enough chairs for everybody to sit down.
  • There isn’t enough information in this report; I need more details.
  • We don’t have enough people to form a soccer team.
  • Do you have enough money to buy that motorcycle?

Error #73

Don’t say:

  • I can’t believe how much stubborn he is.

Say:

  • I can’t believe how stubborn he is.

We only use how much and how many before nouns.

With adjectives and adverbs, we use only how:

  • How tall are you?
  • I want to see how comfortable the couch is before buying it.
  • How quickly can they finish the project?
  • This software measures how efficiently the employees are working.

Error #74

Don’t say:

  • These are my favorites shoes.

Say:

  • These are my favorite shoes.
  • These shoes are my favorites.

Adjectives before nouns are always singular in English, even if the noun is plural!

  • Our house has three small rooms.
  • The forest is filled with giant trees.
  • I have a couple of friendly dogs.
  • I’ve finished this book, now I’ll read the other ones I borrowed from the library.

Some adjectives – especially “others” – can be used in plural form, if the noun was mentioned earlier (and is not directly after the adjective). Here are two examples:

  • I have many pairs of shoes, but these red shoes are my favorites.
    (= favorite shoes)
  • The boss gave raises to some employees but not others.
    (= other employees)
  • Some of the shows on this channel are great, and others are terrible.
    (= other shows on this channel)

Error #75

Don’t say:

  • Last night I was a lot tired.

Say:

  • Last night I was so/very/really tired.

The words so, very, really, are all used before adjectives and adverbs to add emphasis or describe something that is intense:

  • This book is so/very/really interesting.
  • She plays the piano so/very/really well!
  • They moved here so/very/really recently.

A lot of / lots of are used before nouns to describe a large quantity:

  • I ate a lot of / lots of pizza last night.
  • There were a lot of / lots of kids at the playground.

Note that it’s always a lot and never alot.

We can also use a lot after verbs to describe something we do frequently/often:

  • I read a lot.
  • Do you exercise a lot?

Error #76

Don’t say:

  • My new computer is more better than my old one.

Say:

  • My computer is better than my old one.
  • My computer is much better than my old one.

Let’s review how we form comparative adjectives:

  • 1 syllable: fast → faster
  • Words ending in Y: easy → easier
  • 2+ syllables: popular → more popular
  • Irregular: good/bad → better/worse

We only use “more” to make comparisons using adjectives of 2+ syllables: more popular, more interesting, more efficient, more comfortable, etc. The word “better” is already a comparative, so we shouldn’t add “more.”

If you want to add extra emphasis to a comparative, you can add “much”:

  • My new computer is much better than my old one.
    (not just a little bit better… MUCH better)
  • This lesson is much easier than yesterday’s.
  • My sister is much more popular than me.
  • The problem is much worse than we imagined.

Error #77

Don’t say:

  • My apartment is ten miles far from here.

Say:

  • My apartment is ten miles away from here.

When talking about general long distances, we can say far from or far away from:

  • My apartment is far (away) from here.

However, when talking about a specific distance, we say away from or simply from:

  • My apartment is ten miles away from here.
  • My apartment is ten miles from here.

This is confusing because the question might ask “How far…?” but we don’t use the word “far” when giving an answer with a specific distance:

  • How far is the nearest gas station? / Where is the nearest gas station?
    It’s about two blocks away.
  • How far is the museum from here?
    At least five miles – you should probably take the bus.

You can only use “far” in the answer when speaking in general terms:

  • It’s not far. (it’s a short distance away)
  • It’s pretty/quite/very far. (it’s a long distance away)

That’s all for now. The next lesson is our last one in the grammar section, and I’ll teach you about a number of mistakes that I’ve found in my students’ written English, which they’ve sent in for correction in other courses. See you next time!

You can get more lessons like this one when you join the course!
Learn more & join the course