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The Ten Most Common Grammatical Errors in Hong Kong

26 Nov 2020

Everyone makes grammar mistakes in their speech or writing at one time or another. These mistakes are hugely varied in nature and can range from missing articles and incorrect prepositions to missing parts of speech.

However, in Hong Kong, there seem to be a number of particularly common grammar mistakes. This article will focus on ten of the most common mistakes Hong Kong speakers and writers make.

Firstly, read through the following sentences and think about what is wrong with each sentence. The explanations and corrections are on the following page.

  1. Have you had a lunch yet?
  1. I will request for three new laptops.
  1. I will meet him later to discuss about the new promotion.
  1. I am seeking for a new maid at the moment.
  1. He will come back to the office 5 minutes later.
  1. I had seen him yesterday.
  1. Thank you for your calling.
  1. He is lack of experience.
  1. I would be appreciated if you could send me the report today.
  1. He will arrive Hong Kong next Tuesday.

 

1. Have you had a lunch yet?

This sentence contains an unnecessary article. When talking about lunch in general i.e. the everyday event, we do not use an article.

However, we do use an article before ‘lunch’ if it is a special, organized event. This rule also applies to ‘dinner’. Compare the two sentences below:

Have you had lunch yet? (everyday event)

We held a department lunch to celebrate Jane’s wedding. (special event)

 

2. I will request for three new laptops.

This sentence is incorrect because it contains an unnecessary preposition. When ‘request’ is a verb, it is not followed by a preposition. However, when ‘request’ is a noun, it should be followed by the preposition ‘for’. Compare the two sentences below:

I will request three new laptops. (request as a verb)

I suggest that you make a request for three new laptops. (request as a noun)

 

3. I will meet him later to discuss about the new promotion.

Again, the error in this sentence is related to an unnecessary preposition. The verb ‘discuss’ should not be followed by a preposition. However, the noun ‘discussion’ is followed by ‘about’. Another possible reason why this mistake is made is because the verb ‘talk’ is followed by ‘about’, and many people confuse ‘discuss’ and ‘talk’ in usage. Compare the following sentences.

I will meet him later to discuss the new promotion.

We will have a discussion about the new promotion.

We will talk about the promotion later.

 

4. I am seeking for a new maid at the moment.

Similar to the above two examples, this sentence contains an unnecessary preposition. This mistake is in fact very common and most Hong Kong people do not realize that it is incorrect. The verb ‘seek’ is not followed by a preposition. This mistake is made because we also say ‘look for’ which means the same as ‘seek’.

I am seeking a new maid at the moment.

I am looking for a new maid at the moment.

 

5. He will come back to the office 5 minutes later.

When referring to a specific amount of time in the future, we use the preposition ‘in’. The adverb ‘later’ is used to talk about an unspecific amount of time in the future. Compare the following sentences:

He will come back to the office in 5 minutes.

I am sure I will see him later.

 

6. I had seen him yesterday.

In the above example, the past perfect tense is used unnecessarily instead of the past simple, perhaps because ‘had seen’ seems more ‘past’ than ‘saw’. Remember that the past perfect should only be used when you are emphasising that one past action happened before another. Compare the sentences below:

I saw him yesterday. (past simple)

I had already seen him twice that day when I met him again in Starbucks. (past perfect)

 

7. Thank you for your calling.

This mistake is made because people confuse two commonly used telephone phrases! The correct phrases are:

Thank you for calling.

Thank you for your call.

 

8. He is lack of experience.

The word ‘lack’ can be either a noun or a verb, but not an adjective. The noun form is ‘a lack of…’ and is used with the verb ‘have’. It is simpler though, to use the verb form.

He lacks experience. (verb form)

He has a lack of experience. (noun form)

 

9. I would be appreciated if you could send me the report today.

This mistake is normally made in writing. This sentence is a combination of the passive sentence ‘It would be appreciated if you could…’ and the active sentence ‘I would appreciate it if you could…’ forming a grammatically incorrect sentence.

It would be appreciated if you could send me the report today. (passive voice)

I would appreciate it if you could send me the report today. (active voice)

 

10. He will arrive Hong Kong next Tuesday.

Again, this sentence contains a preposition mistake. However, this mistake is a missing preposition. The verb ‘arrive’ should be followed by a preposition. The preposition you use would depend on the object. In this sentence ‘in’ should be used as Hong Kong is a country/region. Compare the following sentences:

He will arrive in Hong Kong next Tuesday.

I will arrive at the airport at 3 pm.

I will arrive on the first floor in two minutes.

 

Techniques for Emphasising your Message When Speaking

Paragraph Unity

Complaining Effectively to Suppliers

Being Tactful When Networking

The Top 10 Common Grammatical Errors in Hong Kong

Using the Past Perfect Tense

Contrast between The Past Simple & The Present Perfect Tenses

Readings Skills: The Pause and Think Method

How to Give a Good Speech or Presentation in English

Paragraph Unity

Tips for Editing Business Documents

Cutting Out Wordy Phrases and Redundancy

Using Modal Verbs to Express Possibility

Using Capital Letters in Your Writing

Using Precise Active Voice Verbs

Reading Advice

Using Modal Verbs to Express Possibility

Give Bad News Before Good News to Emphasise the Good News

Confusing Pairs of Words

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