Un-English expressions


What do you call  …?  not How do you call  …?
Don’t say: How do you call this in English?
Say: What do you call this in English?
Note: If the question isn’t about a thing, but about some expression, we’d Say: How do you say this in English?

What’s the matter not What have you?
Don’t say:  What have  you  today?
Say: What’s the matter  with  you today?
Note: What’s wrong (with you)?, What’s the trouble (with you)? and What’s the problem? are also correct.

 Quietly, not slowly, slowly.
Don’t say: The boy came  in slowly, slowly.
Say: The boy came in  quietly.

This morning, etc., not today morning, etc.
Don’t say:  I haven’t seen him today morning.
Say: I  haven’t seen him this morning.
Note: Avoid today morning, today afternoon, today evening, yesterday night, this night. Say: this morning, this afternoon, this evening, last night, tonight.

Getting on with, not  going with.
Don’t say:  How is Susan  going with her work?
Say: How is Susan getting on with her work?

It works  miracles,  not it makes  miracles.
Don’t say: That medicine  makes  miracles.
Say: That medicine works miracles.

 Put on weight,  not put  weight.
Don’t say: I’ve put at least three kilos.
Say: I’ve put on at least three kilos.
Note: The opposite of to put on weight is to lose weight: She has lost five kilos.

 Learn by heart, not  learn from  out.
Don’t say: We  have a poem to learn from  out.
Say:  We have a poem to learn by heart.

Have one’s hair cut, not cut one’s hair.
Don’t say: I’m going to cut my hair.
Say: I’m going to have my hair cut.
Note: Avoid I’ll make a pair of shoes (or a suit of clothes). Say instead: I’ll have a pair of shoes (or a suit of clothes) made.

Show a film, not play  a film.
Don’t say: This  film will be  played shortly.
Say: This film will be shown shortly.

A watch is slow or fast, not goes behind or in front.
Don’t say: My watch goes two minutes behind.
Say: My watch is two minutes slow.
Note: We can also Say: My watch loses or gains.

Set a watch by, not put a watch with.
Don’t say: I put my watch with the radio news.
Say: I set my watch by the radio news.

Give a mark,  not put  a  mark.
Don’t say: The  teacher put me a good mark.
 Say: The teacher gave me a good mark.
Note. Avoid to put a lesson, to put a goal. Say instead: to give a lesson, to score a goal.

 Give an example,  not  bring an  example.
Don’t say:  Can  you  bring  a  better  example?
Say:  Can you give a better example?

Turn (switch) the light on or off, not open or shut the light.
Don’t say: Please open  (or shut)  the light.
Say: Please turn  on (or off)  the light.
Or: Please switch on (or off) the light.
Note: We light, blow out or put out a lamp, a candle, or a fire.

See or watch a game, not  to follow a game.
Don’t say:  Did  you  follow  the  game?
Say: Did you see  (or watch)  the game?
Note: Avoid saying to follow the lesson when you mean to attend the class.

Tell or speak the truth, not say  the  truth.
Don’t say:  Fiona  always  says the truth.
Say: Fiona always tells the truth.
Or: Fiona always speaks the truth.
Note: Also to tell a lie (not to say a lie): He told me a lie.

Make a mistake, not do a mistake.
Don’t say: I  did one mistake in dictation.
Say: I made one mistake in dictation.

 Smoke a cigarette, etc., not drink a cigarette, etc.
Don’t say: He drinks too many cigarettes.
Say: He smokes too many cigarettes.

Have a dream, not see a dream.
 Don’t say: I saw a strange dream last night.
Say: I had a strange dream last night.
Or: I dreamt a strange dream last night.

Pretend, not make  oneself that.
Don’t say:  She  makes herself that she knows.
Say:  She pretends to know.

Say one’s prayers, not make  or do  one’s prayer.
Don’t say: I make my prayer before I go to bed.
Say: I say my prayers before I go to  bed.
Note: To say grace is to ask God’s blessing before beginning a meat .

Give or deliver a lecture, not make a lecture.
Don’t say:  He made an interesting lecture.
Say:  He gave an interesting lecture.
Or: He delivered an interesting lecture.
Note: We say : He made an interesting speech.

Take exercise, not  make  exercise.
Don’t say: You ought to make more exercise.
Say: You ought to take more exercise.

Give a discount,  not  make  a  discount.
Don’t say: He made me a small discount.
 Say: He gave me a small  discount.

Take an hour, not need an hour, etc.
Don’t say: I’ll need an  hour to do that.
Say: It’ll take me an hour to do that.

Ask a question,  not  make  a  question.
 Don’t say:  Naomi made  me several  questions.
 Say: Naomi asked me several questions.

 Take or have a shower, not make a shower.
Don’t say: I make a  shower every morning.
Say:  I take a shower every morning.
Or: I have a shower every morning.
Note: When speaking of the sea or the river, say : to bathe, to have a bathe, to go for a bathe, to go bathing, to go for a swim or to go swimming

Go on foot, not go with  the  feet.
Don’t say: Shall we go there with the feet?
Say: Shall  we go there on foot?

Dismount or get off a horse, etc., not come down from a horse, etc.
Don’t say:  They  came  down  from  their horses.
Say: They got off their horses.
Note: We get out of a taxi or a car. We get on or off the train, the bus, etc.

Mount or get on a horse, etc. not ride a horse, etc.
Don’t say: Peter rode his horse  and went home.
 Say: Peter got on his horse and rode home.
Note: To ride denotes a continuous action  To mount or to get on denotes a simple action

Go for a ride on a bicycle, etc., not go for a walk on a bicycle, etc.
Don’t say: We went for a walk on  our bicycles.
Say: We went for a ride on our bicycles.
Note: We ride on a bicycle, on horseback, etc., but we ride in a bus, train, or other public vehicle.