Unit 28. Categorizing learners’ mistakes

Learners make mistakes related to either accuracy or communication, in oral or written forms. Knowing that it is precisely through mistakes that learners learn, we need to learn to categorize them and decide which to correct and which to ignore.

Use this link to become familiar with categorizing mistakes.

If we correct every single mistake students make, we may be demotivating them. We need then, to reflect and think which errors should be corrected and which should not.

Try using a simple correction code for correcting learners’ written work in our class. Remember you will have to demonstrate to learners what they are meant to do and show them what the different symbols mean.

Practice Exercises

Match the types of syntactic errors with the examples.


This exam is more easy than the previous one.

Wrong tense


He must to study very hard in order to pass.

Wrong verb pattern


What you do if you won a million pounds?

Wrong preposition


I have eaten a lot of fish last week.

Wrong adverb form


I run fastly so that I could get home just in time for my favourite TV programme.

Wrong comparative form


Stop looking at you in the mirror!

Wrong word order


He makes always the same mistake

Missing auxiliary verb


In the one hand, you are not as smart as you claim to be…

Missing preposition


Oh no! Professor Messner is giving a lecture today. I hate reading!!

Wrong pronoun

Negative transfer

Match the sentences with the types of mistakes they have

1 Thank you for come and visit us! Wrong word order
2 Can you put these papers in the red carpet please? Extra word
3 The crocodile broke the comunication Wrong vocabulary/collocation
4 International languages are english and chinese. Word missing
5 Why birds that can’t fly come back in winter? Wrong tense
6 If I had known you were coming, I wouldn’t show up Wrong agreement
7 It is clarified how people with time began to speak different languages Spelling
8 I am agree with you Punctuation
1 Are you doctor? Wrong word choice
2 I live in Germany since 30th August 2006 Wrong punctuation
3 I hope I can fullfil your expectations Wrong tense
4 Her aunts children’s are too many! Wrong spelling
5 When you come to Germany? Word missing
6 Do you like dogs? Yes, I like Auxiliary missing
7 Whose that man? I have no idea! Collocation problem
8 She’s married with Victor Wrong agreement


Carlos’s motorcycle is that one Wrong word choice


Finally I’m back! I’m completely recovered now! Wrong punctuation


/kæˈtɪgərɪ/ Wrong tense


Admitance to dogs is banned here Wrong spelling


People is always criticizing each other! Extra Word


The actual, 2012 Paraguayan President is Federico Franco. Wrong stress


I am agree with you Collocation problem


Cervantes has written Don Quijote Wrong agreement

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