• Don’t Forget the Subject! Common ESL Mistakes

    Recently I’ve been noticing a lot of my ESL/EFL students that speak Spanish or Portuguese as a first language make a similar mistake, leaving out the subject of certain English sentences.

    For example, I’ve heard several students say: “Is hot.”

    Can you see the problem with that sentence? It is missing a subject. The sentence should be, “It is hot,” with “it” as the subject.

    The reason for this mistake is fairly obvious. In Latin-based languages, such as Spanish or Portuguese, the subject is often part of the verb. In Spanish, for instance, the same sentence would read: “Hace calor.” The verb “hacer” has been conjugated to indicate the subject.

    In English, the subject is separate from the verb, and only changes it in the third person singular with a few exceptions (to be is one of the exceptions). Saying “Is hot,” would be similar to saying “Hacer calor” in Spanish. People would probably understand what you mean, but the sentence sounds strange.

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