Don’t fall into these traps

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ADVICE IS UNCOUNTABLE

Her mentor offered some sound advice that took her far in life.

Notes:

Advice is uncountable and as such, it cannot be preceded by an 

indeterminate article: A/an. Instead we should use words like some, a word/piece/bit of or the.
  • The valuable advice her mentor provided, took her far in life.

 PEOPLE AND POLICE ARE PLURAL

(Remember the mnemonic PPP)

People tend to associate studying to hard work. tends

Armed police have taken the streets and turned the 

city into a battlefield. Has
 
 
Both are followed by a verb in the plural form in English. This tends to
create slips not because students are not aware of this fact but rather, down
to mother tongue interference (these words are singular in Spanish). 
 

Therefore, it needs to be addressed some attention. I recommend for instance, to write 

examples until this is engrained in someone’s mind. Boring as it may sound, it is effective.

You could start by completing these sentences either orally or writing:

People are …

Police are …

People have ….

Police have …

People were …

Police were ….

 

LIKE/SUCH AS = FOR EXAMPLE

Britain has given the world inventions such as the telephone, the light bulb and the toothbrush.

Also: for example, like, e.g. but not AS by itself

Notes:

like is a bit more informal 

than such as
 

Advanced use:

At the end: and the like and such

Britain has given the world inventions like the telephone, the light bulb
and such.
Britain has given the world inventions such as the telephone, the light
bulb and the like.

 

HAVE A COFFEE (RATHER THAN TAKE)

The employees take a mid-morning break to have a coffee and a snack.

Not take a coffee This is also a direct 

translation from languages like Spanish or French that does not sound natural 
in modern everyday English.

Note however that you can use these words together in examples such as:

  • Do you take sugar in your coffee?
  • My boss never takes a coffee-break unless he has achieved his morning goals.

 

 

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