One of the mistakes that I’ve noticed most while teaching English in Brazil is that students do not use the object when they speak. This immediately gives away that they are not fluent and can lead to some confusing situations.
The number one mistake Brazilians make is saying “I like” without saying what they like. Look at how this could be interpreted wrong:
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Jennifer is what we call a valley girl (originally an accent associated with the San Fernando Valley near Hollywood, California). Many Americans now have a similar accent, in which like is randomly used to pause in the same way um is. This is called a discourse marker. It doesn’t add anything to the sentence, but we use discourse markers ALL THE TIME.
Jennifer: “Like I know Vinny likes me. I’ve been looking over the senior boys and you know who I like really like, you know? …Larry Simpson is like mature you know. Like he’s got depth.”
Because Brazilians often think it is correct to say simply “I like” they might really be confused when they here Americans use like in other ways. “Larry Simpson likes mature, what does that mean?”
More examples of this:
Question: “Is it going to rain today?”
Incorrect: “Yes, I think.”
Correct: “Yes I think it will rain.” or “Yes, I think so.”
Question: “Do you like mushrooms on your pizza?”
Incorrect: “Yes, I love!”
Correct: “Yes, I love mushrooms on my pizza!” or “Yes, I love them!”
Question: “Have you been to Japan?”
Incorrect: “Yes, I’ve been.”
Correct: “Yes, I’ve been to Japan.” or “Yes, I’ve been
A sentence almost always needs to have this basic structure:
THE SUBJECT of the sentence is the one who performs the action. This can be I, you, he, she, it, we or they.
THE ACTION is a conjugated verb, for example eat, sleep, drink, go, or get.
THE OBJECT gives further information. It either describes something about the subject or it receives the action. The object can be:
- A noun receiving the action
- A pronoun
- An adverb
- A gerund
- Here or there
- Verb + to
Here are some basic rules of when and how you should use the object. You can usually identify the object by asking what or how:
When you’re speaking you obviously don’t want to ask yourself, “In the sentence I’m about to say, what is the object?” But when you read or write you should keep it in mind so that you become aware of how to use the object. There are only very rare cases where you don’t use the object, so never again should you say, “I like,” “I love,” “I want,” or “I go” without saying “it,” “these,” or “there” at the end of the sentence.
Grammar has its place when learning a language. Be knowledgeable about it and you’ll sound much more natural speaking. Stop making this basic mistake and start convincing native speakers that you are fluent!
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