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Common Mistakes that Chinese Speakers Make when Speaking English


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"Eat medicine"

"Wish you.... ('happy every day' being my favourite)"

Should, could, must, have to.

The pronunciation of "clothes" and "technology"

Mixing up "economy" and "economic"

British, Britain, America, American (etc)

The usage of 'to service', often with amusing results (he was servicing the customer)

It's been a while since I taught English, these were just a few mistakes that I can remember.

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"Happy everyday" (usually two words) is a bit like "a sunshine breakfast". I kind of understand it but at the same time it's not something I'd ever say because it sounds a bit daft.

Chinese tends to be quite unspecific about animals: mouse/rat, hornet/bumblebee, eagle/hawk, rabbit/hare etc etc

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I can't distinguish sandwiches and burgers. Well, I think I can. I just looked them up on wikipedia but pretty sure I got the right picture. But when I buy what I think is a burger from places like McDonald, they often ask "only the sandwich?" :conf

Sandwich is the category, and a burger is a specific type of sandwich.

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I explained this already. In American English, a hamburger/burger must contain a beefburger. That's where the "-burger" comes from. If there's no beef then it's not a hamburger/burger.

The rest of the world is not so strict so if it contains chicken people will call it a chickenburger.

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Look up 'veggie burger' on Wikipedia and you'll see that it was invented in America, is served in numerous chain stores in America, and around the world in that flagship of American culture, McDonalds. Maybe 'burger' comes from beef, but it has moved on.

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IMO if unspecified 'burger' = beef patty. Sure there's chicken burger and veggie burger and salmon burger, but if someone just says "I want a burger" they mean they want a round sandwich with a ground beef patty. "Hamburger" leaves no room for misinterpretation and is always beef.

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lamb vs sheep vs goat vs rams vs .... They're all 羊.

Common in most languages including some varieties of English.

But it is possible to differentiate in Chinese. Usually people don't bother, because in the context it doesn't matter.

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Thought of another:

First: I often hear people say something like "I'll go first." 先走了。 I know this is not technically wrong, but it's often used in the wrong context. If I were to say this in English, it would usually be followed by "I'll see you at home" as though we're both going to the same destination. However, I often hear this from someone to mean that they're simply leaving while others remain. I don't know, it just feels wrong (different).

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