Which Grammar Problems Do Australian Students Face?

Australian English grammar has its own characteristics and differences. In this article, we look at the most common grammatical errors that Australian students face.

For many students, grammar is an annoying technicality, but we all understand the importance of good grammar. Students whose first language is not English make a lot of grammatical mistakes and Australian students are no exceptions.

Australian English has its own characteristics and differences. In this post, we will focus on the most common grammatical errors that Australian students face.

Who vs. Whom

Many students make this mistake. They cannot decide whether they should use who or whom. If you are confused, we recommend you rearrange the sentence. It is important to notice that “who” refers to the subject while “whom” refers to the object.

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You may find it a bit hard to identify a subject and an object. As a general rule, a sentence starts with a subject, not an object. “Who saw the bird?”  But “Whom did you tell the story?”

Fewer vs. Less

You have to use “fewer” when you are talking about countable nouns. For example, “he has fewer customers than his friend”. Or “I bought fewer pens than my brother.” Here is another example, “I have fewer shirts than my brother.” This is one of the most common grammar mistakes.

On the other hand, “less” is used to refer to intangible concepts or uncountable nouns. For example, “She drank less water than her sister.” Like all other things, students get better at grammar with practice. It is true that Australian grammar rules are not very different from British or American grammar rules. All you need is exposure and practice.

Me, Myself and I

International students studying in Australia often make this mistake. They cannot decide when to use me, myself or I. This problem is also related to identifying the subject/object. “Me” is always used to mean the object. For example: “He likes me”. The rule is pretty clear-cut. In fact, Australian English grammar is just like British or American grammar in most cases.

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“I” is the subject as in “I know her”. “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun and we use it when the subject and the object refer to the same person. For example, “She hurt herself”. You can use these pronouns correctly if you understand the relationships and differences between subjects and objects.

It’s vs. its

We normally use an apostrophe to indicate possession. For example, “This is John’s shirt”. However, apostrophes have another function: they replace omitted letters. That is why students often confuse these two words. Even some native English speakers make this mistake.

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To clarify this issue, it is important to remember that “its” is a possessive pronoun as in “Its color is blue”. And we use “It’s” when we mean “it is”. If we mean “it is happening”, we write “it’s happening”.

Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs confuse most students trying to learn the English language. There are many irregular verbs in English that have similar past and past participle forms. For a learner, they are really confusing. For example: Broadcast-broadcast-broadcast. There are many other words that often confuse learners of English.

Dangling modifiers

When it comes to dangling modifiers, many students fail to modify the right word. Ambiguous adjectival clauses often confuse students. If you write, “growing thick, the gardener pruned the shrubs”, it is unclear which grew thick, the gardener or the shrubs.

The modifying clause should be next to the word or clause it is modifying. You have to rephrase the above sentence in this way: “the gardener pruned the shrubs which grew thick.

If you want to learn good English, learning dangling modifiers is a very important thing.

Nor vs. or

We use “nor” in a sentence that contains “neither”. To make it clear, when there are two or more alternatives, we use “nor” before the second alternative. For example, “Neither John nor Nicky understands it.”

On the other hand, “or” is used in a positive statement. For example, “Either you or your friend did it”. The rules are almost intuitive, and they are not hard to master.

Subject-verb agreement

The main rule of subject-verb agreement is simple: a singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. But there are many intricacies and students tend to make a lot of mistakes. However, if you are a bit conscious, you can avoid common grammar mistakes.

When a student understands the agreement between a noun and a verb, he or she is supposed to understand the agreement between a pronoun and a verb. When using a possessive element, many students tend to confuse the agreement.

Ending sentences with prepositions

In most cases, students are recommended not to end a sentence with a preposition. Ending a sentence with a preposition sometimes seems awful. For example, “the teacher laid out some rules which the students had to abide by” is not a very good sentence. Grammar errors can be overcome only with a lot of practice.

But that does not mean that you are strictly forbidden to end sentences with prepositions. For example, “he is a good person to work with” is a pretty good sentence.

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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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