The mistakes/ language traps are divided into the common areas you find in your English examinations such as grammar, word order, wrong word or expression, preposition, spelling, tense including choice of words.

grammar mistakes

Before you go, please help me to                                               bevor (+ Satz)

Two years ago, he died.                                                             vor  (ab heute)

He is still here.                                                                            noch (+ bejahter Satz)

He hasn’t seen him yet.                                                              noch nicht (verneinter Satz)

He lost his life./They lost their lives.                                           Sie verloren ihr Leben.

to wash                                                                                       sich waschen

to meet                                                                                       sich treffen

to feel                                                                                          sich fühlen

to hide (hid,hidden)                                                                     sich verstecken

to change                                                                                    sich ändern

They saw themselves in the mirror                                             sich selbst sehen (Spiegel

They saw each other in London                                                 Sie sahen sich in London. (gegenseitig)

He immigrated (einwandern) into the USA …

like his brother.                                                                        wie (+ expression)

as his brother had done 2 years before him.                         wie (+ sentence)

He is not as rich as you.                                                             so … wie

Leaving him is the same as if you killed him.                                           dasselbe … wie

When I saw you, I began to like you, because                           Als …, weil …

As there is no train, we must take a plane.                                Weil/ Da (am Anfang d. Satzes)

If he came, we would kiss each other.                                       Wenn er kommen würde, würden wir uns küssen.

In Germany, we find (there are) the                                           In Deutschland gibt es die gleichen wirtschaftl. Probleme

same economic problems.

Many books offer much fun.                                                       Viele Bücher  ‑viel Spaß

( zählbar )            ( nicht zählbar )

This is a report. Its main ideas …                                                 (nicht: it’s it is) ‑ Dies ist ein Bericht. Seine Hauptgedanken

The house, whose roof has broken down.                                 das Haus, dessen Dach

It is obvious.                                                                               ( to be has no adverb!!!) Es ist offensichtlich.

She sings / is singing happily.                                                    Sie singt fröhlich

She is obviously happy.                                                              Sie ist offensichtlich fröhlich.

It tastes/ sounds/ smells/ feels good                                          schmeckt, kingt, riecht gut,  fühlt sich gut an

he is/ he seems/ appears rich                                                    er ist/ erscheint reich

he becomes rich                                                                         er wird reich

I want you to help me. (nie: that !)                                              Ich möchte/ will, dass du mir hilfst

Henry’s thoughts (nicht: …of Henry)                                          die Gedanken von Henry

a fourteen ‑year‑ old girl                                                             14 jährig

a girl, who was fourteen years old                                              14 jährig

a girl at the age of fourteen / aged fourteen                               im Alter von 14

While you were away, (while + Satz                                           Während Du weg warst,

During the war … (during + Ausdruck)                                       Während des Krieges …

I don’t like people who                                                                Ich mag die, Leute nicht, die

Most of the crowd                                                                       Die meisten der Menge

Half the crowd                                                                            Die Hälfte der Menge

He succeeds in  ‑ing.                                                                  Es gelingt ihm, zu …

Then he became richer than his brother                                    Dann wurde er reicher als sein Bruder.

I have been waiting here  ..                                                        Ich warte hier schon

for 2 hours already.                                                                … seit 2 Stunden (Zeitraum)

.. since 5 o’clock.                                                                        ..seit 5 Uhr. (Zeitpunkt)

That’s all I can do.                                                                      Das ist alles was ich tun kann.

She’s terrible, rich and ugly!!                                                      Sie ist schrecklich, reich und  hässlich.

She’s terribly rich.                                                                       Sie ist schrecklich reich

he thinks about what he should do                                             er überlegt, was er tun soll

most of his ideas                                                                        die meisten seiner Gedanken

I’m really looking forward to seeing you again.                          Ich freu mich darauf dich wiederzusehen.

We are getting older and older                                                   wir werden immer älter

My elder brother is …                                                                 Mein älterer Bruder ist …

… five years older than I am                                                      … 5 Jahre alter als ich.

He likes to drink.                                                                         Er trinkt gerne.

He smokes regularly                                                                   er raucht regelmäßig

He never helps other people (nicht: is … ing)                                          Er hilft andern nie.

He is sleeping (at the moment )                                                 Er schläft gerade.

We are having a party, next Saturday!                                       Wir geben am Samstag eine Party.

Are you coming?                                                                        Kannst du ? Kommst du ? (nahe Zukunft)

He told his girl that he didn’t love her                                         Er sagte ihr, dass er sie nicht liebe,

…that he had never loved her …                                               …dass er sie nie geliebt habe…

…and that he would never love her in his life.                            …und dass er sie nie lieben werde!

He looked angry but                                                                   Er sah wütend aus, aber

he didn’t look angrily at me!                                                        sah mich nicht wütend an!

She looked beautiful (it smells good , it tastes good)                 Sie sieht gut aus.

but she can’t sing well, drive carefully                                        aber sie kann nicht gut singen/ vorsichtig fahren

be peaceful (to be niemals + ly)                                                 Sei friedlich!

She talks to me in an amiable/ friendly way.                              Sie redet freundlich mit mir.

His wife works hard, but he hardly works.                                  Seine Frau arbeitet hart, er aber arbeitet kaum.

The book was nowhere to be found/ seen                                 das Buch war nirgends zu finden/ sehen

Life is short, love is wonderful (abstractl)                                   das Leben ist kurz, die Liebe ist wunderbar

I would like/ want you to help him.                                              ich möchte, dass du ihm hilfst.

the dead/ the poor/ the rich                                                        die Toten/ die Armen/ die Reichen

she is still at school/at university                                                sie geht noch zur Schule/ auf die Uni

she goes to school/ to the school                                               sie geht zur Schule/ zum Schulgebäude

let’s meet in the school                                                               im Schulgebäude

don’t criticize what you don’t understand                                    kritisiere nicht das, was du nicht verstehst

all the cars, which                                                                       alle Autos, die

I warned you not to ask him.(not ist unumgänglich)                   lch warnte dich, ihn zu fragen.

the consequences of unemployment (abstract)                         die Folgen der Arbeitslosig­keit

the unemployment of the young people in Germany                  die Arbeitslosigkeit der jungen Leute in Deutschland (speziell)

 

wrong word or expression, preposition and spelling mistakes

 

to travel (by train) from to                                                           reisen,fahren

to go (by …)                                                                                fahren

to drive a car                                                                               nur:selbst steuern,fahren

the journey (voyage)                                                                   Reise,(See‑)

to go on a trip                                                                             Ausflug machen

When he did his homework, he made a mistake.                       Hausaufgaben/Fehler machen

It is made of wood.                                                                     aus Holz gemacht

You can’t live of love alone.                                                        leben von

Don’t lose it. (lost, lost)                                                               Verliere es nicht.

A loose end of the rope.                                                             Ein loses Seilende.

You can choose. (chose, chosen)                                              (aus) wählen

He was elected president.                                                                        zum Präsidenten gewählt

He didn’t vote for / aqainst me.                                                   Er wählte mich (nicht)

an event / future events                                                              (zukünftige ) Ereignisse

either … or                                                                                  entweder … oder

neither … nor                                                                              weder … noch

Our economic situation                                                               wirtschaftliche Situation

economical housewife                                                                sparsame Hausfrau

Try not to persuade him, but to convince him.                           Überreden – Überzeugen

He developed his abilities.                                                         Er entwickelte seine Fähigkeiten.

What is the meaning of this word?                                             Bedeutung

I’ve changed my mind / my opinion ‑                                          Meinung (nicht: meaning!)

one person/ two people                                                              eine Person/ zwei Personen

We have got families of our own.                                               Wir haben eigene Familien.

They wrote their own letters.(!!!)                                                 Sie schrieben ihre Briefe selbst.

You must prove it ! (proved,‑)/ the proof                                     beweisen/ der Beweis

I want another boyfriend.                                                            noch einen Freund

I want a different boyfriend.                                                        einen anderen Freund

The next day                                                                               Am nächsten Tag

At that moment                                                                           In diesem Augenblick, Im Moment

There are symbols of death.                                                       Symbole für den Tod.

proof of/ example of/ sign of                                                       Beweis für/ Beispiel für/ Zeichen für

it’s a symbol of / it’s typical of                                                     symbolisch/ typisch für

Watching the children I saw that                                                Als ich den Kindern zusah, sah ich … (zusehen – sehen)

Listening to the music I heard a sound.                                     Als ich der Musik zuhörte, hörte ich … (zuhören – hören)

suddenly he realizes / notices                                                    plötzlich stellt er fest

I got to know him in 1970                                                           kennenlernen

he used to smoke                                                                       er pflegte zu rauchen / Früher rauchte er

he is used to smoking                                                                 er ist gewöhnt daran zu rauchen

I must look after the baby (care for)                                                         sorgen für, kümmern um

We must look for the book we’ve lost.                                        suchen nach

I look upon you as my friend.                                                     betrachten als

The man was searched by the police                                         Der Mann wurde von der Polizei durchsucht

to be at home                                                                             zu Hause sein

to return home                                                                            nach Hause kommen

He became very narrow‑minded, in the end.                                           schließlich wurde er  sehr engstirnig

At last he had to go.                                                                   Schließlich (endlich) mußte er gehen.

He is at least 35 years old.                                                         mindestens

He does it again and again.                                                        immer wieder

This essay consists of superficial cliches                                   besteht aus oberflächlichen  Klischees

The next street to the right is                                                      die nächste Straße rechts

the next way to the station                                                                        der nächste Weg zum Bahnhof

„May I drive the car, father?“                                                      Darf ich  ?

„No, you may not!“                                                                      “ Nein. “

„Must I   do that, at once?“                                                         „Muss ich das sofort machen?“

„No you need not!“                                                                      „Du musst nicht.“

This is too small a car.                                                                ein zu kleines Auto

I’ve heard all you said.                                                                Ich hörte alles, was du sagtest.

It’s you who is wrong!                                                                 Du, hast Unrecht! (nicht ich!)

Every human being must die.                                                     Alle müssen sterben.

We are 9 pupils here. Each of us has a book.                            Alle haben/jeder hat ein Buch

we have one book each

You can come any time you like.                                                jederzeit

I want to borrow a book. Can you lend me one?                        Ich möchte mir ein Buch leihen. Kannst Du mir eins borgen?

Take this letter to the post‑office                                                Bring den Brief weg. (weg bringen, hinbringen)

And bring some stamps along, please.                                      Bring Briefmarken mit (her bringen zum Sprecher)

Why do you carry your pullover over your arm ?                        über den Arm tragen

Why don’t you wear it?                                                               Warum trägst du ihn nicht (am Körper) ?

He is only small, but he is a great man.                                     Er ist klein, aber bedeutend.

You can keep what you hold in your hand.                                behalten / halten

Keep it in mind                                                                            Behalte es (im Kopf)

We looked but we didn’t see anything. sehen                            sehen

We listened carefully, but we didn’t hear anything.                    hören

The meaning of „opinion“ is “Meinung”                                       Bedeutung / Meinung

I can’t remember having seen this film before.                           Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, diesen Film gesehen zu haben.

Remind me to give it back.                                                         Erinnere mich, ihn zurückzugeben.

He said, he would not tell him anything.                                     Er sagte, er werde nichts sagen.

Please tell me: what did you say?                                              Sag mal, was hast Du gesagt ?

It is his way of doing it                                                                seine Art

It’s a kind of hat.                                                                         eine Art Hut

The apple dropped to the ground/ he sat on the floor                              Boden

I need a knife. Can I use yours ?                                                brauchen

It takes time! It took him 10 minutes                                           es braucht Zeit./ er brauchte 10 Minuten

He is my boss                                                                             Chef ( chef =.Chefkoch )

He might help you                                                                      Er könnte Dir eventuell helfen

It is his fault don’t make a mistake!                                             seine Schuld / Fehler

I’ve finished my work, I’m ready to go                                         Die Arbeit ist fertig. Ich bin fertig zum gehen.

It’s just around the corner. Let’s walk!                                        Lass uns zu Fuß gehen.

You are lucky He is happy                                                          Du hast Glück / Dusel. Er ist glücklich,

Whenever he comes, her heart begins to beat faster.               Immer wenn …

He lives in the country / a foreign country                                  Er lebt auf dem Land/ im Aus­land

What a beautiful country.                                                            Welch schönes Land.

What a beautiful countryside.                                                     Welch schone Landschaft.

I let you go.                                                                                 (zu)lassen

I make you work.                                                                                      (veran)lassen

He had his hair cut. ( not: had cut his hair! )                               Er ließ sich die Haare schneiden.

I think, you should                                                                      ich glaube du solltest

Use your imagination.                                                                 Benutze deine Phantasie.

I can’t imagine a war without shooting.                                       lch kann mir nicht vorstellen

to study politics                                                                           Politikwissenschaften, Politik

Mr. Adenauer’s (foreign) policy.                                                  Adenauers (Außen‑) Politik (spezielle)

price ($) ‑‑ prize (Pokal)                                                              Preis zu zahlen / Preis zu gewinnen

We searched the house, because                                              (durchsuchen/ suchen)

we were looking for money.

self‑confident/ self‑conscious                                                     selbstbewußt / schüchtern

sensitive/ sensible                                                                      sensibel/ vernünftig

pleasant, amiable/ sympathetic                                                  sympathisch/ mitfühlend

modern technology                                                                     die moderne Technik

He has his own technique.                                                         Er hat seine eigene Technik (Kniff)

I wonder why he did that.                                                           lch frage mich, warum er das gemacht hat.

I wonder if he did that.                                                                lch frage mich, ob er das gemacht hat.

to make up one s mind (to decide)                                             sich entschließen

to change one’s mind                                                                 es sich anders überlegen

Their relationship turned into an affair.                                       Ihr Verhältnis wurde zur Liebschaft.

He went on laughing.                                                                 Er lachte weiter.

He’s growing older and older.                                                     Er wird immer älter.

Don’t get angry/ afraid.                                                               Werde nicht böse/ ärgerlich.

She’s quite/ rather quiet.                                                             Sie ist ziemlich ruhig.

to agree to a plan/ with a person                                                einem Plan/ einer Person zustimmen

to describe/ the discription ‑                                                       beschreiben/Beschreibung

the critic / criticism                                                                      der Kritiker / die Kritik (allgem.)

reviews                                                                                       Zeitungskritiken

(emotional) overtones are to be noticed                                     (emotionaIe) Untertöne (Beigeschmack)

at this stage/at his age                                                               in diesem Stadium/ in seinem Alter

to divide, to decide                                                                     teilen / s. entscheiden

you must face the truth                                                               d. Wahrheit ins Auge sehen

 

word order

 

In 1970 I often visited him at home.                                           Ich besuchte ihn oft. (vor dem Vollverb)

l have never seen him before.                                                   Ich habe ihn nie ge­sehen.

My son has never been beaten.                                                Mein Sohn wurde nie geschlagen.

I met him in London last summer                                               (place before time!!) Ich traf ihn letzten Sommer in London

 

tense

 

Gegenwartsebene

I have loved you for two years.                                                   lch liebe dich seit …

I love you now,                                                                           lch liebe dich jetzt

and I m sure I will love you for the rest of my life         .             lch werde dich … lieben.

 

Vergangenheitsebene

When he turned round, he realized/ saw/ .                                 AIs er sich herumdrehte,

found out that his girl‑friend had gone                                        sah er, dass sie weggegangen war.

away with another man.

(Past Perfect nur, wenn vor die Vergangenheit zurückgeblickt wird!)

 

He knew that he would never see her again.                             Er wusste, dass er sie nie wiedersehen werde.

 

choice of words, expressions for English examinations

 

… is described                                                                            wird beschrieben

… is shown                                                                                 wird gezeigt

… is pointed out                                                                          wird dargelegt

 

(sth. that was hidden)        …is revealed                                    wird offengelegt,gezeigt

…is unmasked

…is disclosed

Don’t do that again!                                                                    Mache das nie wieder!

You are late, as usual.                                                                wie üblich/ gewöhnlich

I consider him a fool.                                                                  betrachten als

I regard him as my friend/ look upon him as                              betrachten als

Don’t treat him as a friend.                                                         behandeln als

Countries such as Germany, France, Italy                                 Länder wie

He can’t help you, either.                                                            auch nicht

This is a significant aspect of the problem.                                ein bedeutsamer Teil d. Problems.

I don’t like that at all.                                                                   Ich mag das überhaupt nicht.

a convincing point for this idea can be found                                           ein überzeugendes Argument

this and nothing else.                                                                 sonst nichts

He has quite a few problems                                                      Er hat eine ganze Menge Probleme.

I have a question concerning our holiday.                                  Frage, die betrifft

He is not concerned.                                                                  nicht betroffen

As far as school is concerned.                                                   Die Schule betreffend.

We did everything according to your advice.                                            wir machten alles gemäß deinem Rat

Now, we can draw the conclusion.                                             Schlussfolgerung ziehen

I can’t cope with that problem.                                                    fertigwerden mit einem Problem

At last he managed to overcome that difficulty.                          Schwierigkeiten überwinden

Therefore / that’s why / that’s the reason why                            Deshalb

Thus / So                                                                                    Auf diese Weise

She is beautiful. On top of that she is rich!                                 Darüberhinaus

The story doesn’t say anything about                                         Die Geschichte sagt nichts aus über

The story doesn’t tell us anything about                                     Die Geschichte sagt nichts aus über

I don’t know anything.                                                                 Ich weiß nichts.

in the long run                                                                             auf die Dauer

on the whole                                                                               im Ganzen

In my opinion / To my mind                                                        Meiner Meinung nach

exaggerated                                                                               übertrieben

overestimated                                                                             überschätzt

Don’t gloss over these difficulties.                                              Beschönige nicht diese  Schwierigkeiten.

We had hardly any problems.                                                     kaum/ fast keine Probleme

black and white form a contrast …                                              bilden einen Gegensatz

Contrary to what he said, he didn’t help me.                              Im Gegensatz zu dem, was

His ideas and his actions are contrasted.                                   … werden als Gegensatz dargestellt/ gegenübergestellt.

The quarrel was caused by a lack of understanding.                 Der Streit wurde verursacht durch

The quarrel resulted from a lack of understanding.                    Der Streit wurde verursacht durch

The quarrel had its origin in a lack of understanding.                 Der Streit wurde verursacht durch

The cause of the quarrel was …                                                Die Ursache/der Grund des Streits war

The source of the quarrel was …                                               Die Quelle des Streits war

You must take a decision.                                                          Du mußt dich entscheiden.

He decided to go.                                                                       Er entschloß sich zu gehen.

I can’t make up my mind.                                                           Ich kann mich nicht entscheiden.

Although you have no friend except me/ apart from me             Obwohl Du außer mir keinen Freund hast

He helped me in spite of the fact that he was ill.                        Trotz der Tatsache, dass er krank war, half er mir.

It is said in the text (on page 7) that                                           Im Text (auf Seite 7) steht, dass

He can’t do anything anymore.                                                   Er kann nichts mehr tun.

The danger decreases/ increases                                              (Gefahr) abnehmen/zunehmen

on the one hand/ on the other hand                                           einerseits/ andererseits

He may help you.                                                                       Er hilft Dir vielleicht.

The action takes place       …                                                      Die Handlung spielt …

He takes part in  …                                                                     Er nimmt teil an …

He knows absolutely everything.                                                Er weiß einfach alles.

Now a description follows showing…                                          Nun folgt eine Beschreibung …

This underlines/ emphasizes his feelings.                                  Das betont seine Gefühle.

This is an attempt to escape from the everyday routine.            Das ist ein Versuch, aus dem Alltag auszubrechen.

it’s one of his habits                                                                    eine seiner Gewohnheiten …

he wonders what to do                                                               er überlegt, was er tun soll

he can’t realize that plan (to put into practice)                            einen Plan verwirklichen

Look at me!!                                                                                Schau mich an!!

At the end of the story, we see                                                   Am Ende der Geschichte

The first paragraph forms a sort of introduction.                        Der erste Abschnitt bildet eine Art Einleitung.

The play deals with                                                                     Das Stück handelt von

Peter’s feelings and thoughts                                                     sein Denken und Fühlen

We get to know more details about                                            Wir erfahren mehr über

In this text the situation inside our university                              In diesem Text wird die Situation inner­halb unserer Universität

is described/ pointed out/ revealed                                             beschrieben.

his state of mind/frame of mind                                                  Gemütssverfassung

he is in a bad state (Alternative)                                                 (armselig) poor, unsatisfactory,(erbärmlich) deplorable,

(mitleiderregend) pitiful, sad

a horrible experience                                                                  ghastly, appalling, ftightening, terrifying, (widerlich)disgusting

a bad man/behaviour                                                                  unfriendly, unkind, unscrupulous, ruthless, cruel, hostile, vicious

it is surprising                                                                             puzzling, bewildering, amazing, astonishing, irritating

it is stranqe                                                                                 odd, mysterious, weird

it is good                                                                                     fine, excellent, satisfactory, marvellous

wonderful                                                                                    splendid, magnificent, marvellous, superb, terrific

a good man                                                                                friendly, kind, amiable(=symphatisch), perfect gentleman

to go slowly and carefully                                                           to tiptoe/ criminal: creep, Iurk, to wander, to walk

to go normally                                                                             to walk, to move down/along (:cars)

to go quickly                                                                               to run, hurry, to race along, to sprint, to pace up and down

(with difficulty)                                                                             to toddle (child),to stagger(drunk), to limp (humpeln)