Common English Mistakes Made by German Speakers When Speaking English

As you dive into the depths of English, those pesky pitfalls are just waiting to trip you up. But fear not—we’re here to navigate this language labyrinth together.

Verb Tenses: Das ewige Problem

Let’s talk about verb tenses—das ewige Problem, right? 😅 In German, you might be used to saying “Ich habe es gestern gesehen” for past actions, but in English, the simple past reigns: “I saw it yesterday.” 

Another common mistake is using the present continuous tense when the simple present tense is more appropriate. For example, saying I’m doing it every day instead of “I do it every day.” 

Each tense tells its own story, so let’s get them straight. Practise forming sentences in different tenses to get a feel for their distinct uses.

False Friends: The Betrayers

And then there are those treacherous false friends—words that look familiar but betray you with a different meaning. 

Watch out for “become” (which means “werden,” not “bekommen”) and “sympathetic” (which means “mitfühlend,” not “sympathisch”). Oh, and “aktuell” meaning “currently” and not “actually.” 

Keep a list of these deceptive words handy to review regularly. You’ll find a comprehensive list of false friends here.

Prepositions: The Devil in the Details

Ach, prepositions! Direct translations can be a pitfall.

So, pay attention to common phrases and their prepositions; practice will make these details second nature. Consider phrases like “interested in,” not “interested on,” and “depend on,” not “depend from.”

Pronunciation: Taming Tricky Sounds

Now let’s address pronunciation—English sounds can trip up even the most seasoned “Sprachkünstler*innen”. 

The sound ‘w’ is often pronounced as ‘v’ by German speakers of English. Practise with this  resource here.

Don’t let those tricky sounds dampen your spirit. Use online resources or language apps to practise pronunciation regularly.

Idiomatic Expressions

Directly translating idioms from German to English can lead to confusion or incorrect usage. Familiarise yourself with common English idioms to use them correctly and understand their meanings or avoid them completely!

Join the Conversation

Du bist nicht allein auf dieser Reise! Share your own experiences or tips with me. Let’s create a space where we can chuckle over our mistakes and celebrate our progress together. Who knows—you might just help someone dodge an English faux-pas today. 😊

Remember, learning a new language is a journey full of small victories and occasional slip-ups. Keep practising, stay curious, and don’t hesitate to seek feedback.

Together, we can navigate these challenges and celebrate every milestone. Happy learning! 🌟

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