What do you call …? not How do you call …?
Don’t say: How do you call this in English?
Say: What do you call this in English?
Note: If the question isn’t about a thing, but about some expression, we’d Say: How do you say this in English?
What’s the matter not What have you?
Don’t say: What have you today?
Say: What’s the matter with you today?
Note: What’s wrong (with you)?, What’s the trouble (with you)? and What’s the problem? are also correct.
Quietly, not slowly, slowly.
Don’t say: The boy came in slowly, slowly.
Say: The boy came in quietly.
This morning, etc., not today morning, etc.
Don’t say: I haven’t seen him today morning.
Say: I haven’t seen him this morning.
Note: Avoid today morning, today afternoon, today evening, yesterday night, this night. Say: this morning, this afternoon, this evening, last night, tonight.
Getting on with, not going with.
Don’t say: How is Susan going with her work?
Say: How is Susan getting on with her work?
It works miracles, not it makes miracles.
Don’t say: That medicine makes miracles.
Say: That medicine works miracles.
Put on weight, not put weight.
Don’t say: I’ve put at least three kilos.
Say: I’ve put on at least three kilos.
Note: The opposite of to put on weight is to lose weight: She has lost five kilos.
Learn by heart, not learn from out.
Don’t say: We have a poem to learn from out.
Say: We have a poem to learn by heart.
Have one’s hair cut, not cut one’s hair.
Don’t say: I’m going to cut my hair.
Say: I’m going to have my hair cut.
Note: Avoid I’ll make a pair of shoes (or a suit of clothes). Say instead: I’ll have a pair of shoes (or a suit of clothes) made.
Show a film, not play a film.
Don’t say: This film will be played shortly.
Say: This film will be shown shortly.
A watch is slow or fast, not goes behind or in front.
Don’t say: My watch goes two minutes behind.
Say: My watch is two minutes slow.
Note: We can also Say: My watch loses or gains.
Set a watch by, not put a watch with.
Don’t say: I put my watch with the radio news.
Say: I set my watch by the radio news.
Give a mark, not put a mark.
Don’t say: The teacher put me a good mark.
Say: The teacher gave me a good mark.
Note. Avoid to put a lesson, to put a goal. Say instead: to give a lesson, to score a goal.
Give an example, not bring an example.
Don’t say: Can you bring a better example?
Say: Can you give a better example?
Turn (switch) the light on or off, not open or shut the light.
Don’t say: Please open (or shut) the light.
Say: Please turn on (or off) the light.
Or: Please switch on (or off) the light.
Note: We light, blow out or put out a lamp, a candle, or a fire.
See or watch a game, not to follow a game.
Don’t say: Did you follow the game?
Say: Did you see (or watch) the game?
Note: Avoid saying to follow the lesson when you mean to attend the class.
Tell or speak the truth, not say the truth.
Don’t say: Fiona always says the truth.
Say: Fiona always tells the truth.
Or: Fiona always speaks the truth.
Note: Also to tell a lie (not to say a lie): He told me a lie.
Make a mistake, not do a mistake.
Don’t say: I did one mistake in dictation.
Say: I made one mistake in dictation.
Smoke a cigarette, etc., not drink a cigarette, etc.
Don’t say: He drinks too many cigarettes.
Say: He smokes too many cigarettes.
Have a dream, not see a dream.
Don’t say: I saw a strange dream last night.
Say: I had a strange dream last night.
Or: I dreamt a strange dream last night.
Pretend, not make oneself that.
Don’t say: She makes herself that she knows.
Say: She pretends to know.
Say one’s prayers, not make or do one’s prayer.
Don’t say: I make my prayer before I go to bed.
Say: I say my prayers before I go to bed.
Note: To say grace is to ask God’s blessing before beginning a meat .
Give or deliver a lecture, not make a lecture.
Don’t say: He made an interesting lecture.
Say: He gave an interesting lecture.
Or: He delivered an interesting lecture.
Note: We say : He made an interesting speech.
Take exercise, not make exercise.
Don’t say: You ought to make more exercise.
Say: You ought to take more exercise.
Give a discount, not make a discount.
Don’t say: He made me a small discount.
Say: He gave me a small discount.
Take an hour, not need an hour, etc.
Don’t say: I’ll need an hour to do that.
Say: It’ll take me an hour to do that.
Ask a question, not make a question.
Don’t say: Naomi made me several questions.
Say: Naomi asked me several questions.
Take or have a shower, not make a shower.
Don’t say: I make a shower every morning.
Say: I take a shower every morning.
Or: I have a shower every morning.
Note: When speaking of the sea or the river, say : to bathe, to have a bathe, to go for a bathe, to go bathing, to go for a swim or to go swimming
Go on foot, not go with the feet.
Don’t say: Shall we go there with the feet?
Say: Shall we go there on foot?
Dismount or get off a horse, etc., not come down from a horse, etc.
Don’t say: They came down from their horses.
Say: They got off their horses.
Note: We get out of a taxi or a car. We get on or off the train, the bus, etc.
Mount or get on a horse, etc. not ride a horse, etc.
Don’t say: Peter rode his horse and went home.
Say: Peter got on his horse and rode home.
Note: To ride denotes a continuous action To mount or to get on denotes a simple action
Go for a ride on a bicycle, etc., not go for a walk on a bicycle, etc.
Don’t say: We went for a walk on our bicycles.
Say: We went for a ride on our bicycles.
Note: We ride on a bicycle, on horseback, etc., but we ride in a bus, train, or other public vehicle.