Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Collocations: mistake

Type: Article

We all make the occasional mistake, says Tim Bowen. You just have to admit it.

Everyone makes the occasional or odd mistake in the sense of saying, writing, thinking or doing something that is not correct.

Sometimes mistakes are just careless or sloppy but they can also be silly, stupid or foolish, and, on occasion, embarrassing. They can be minor or slight or they can be bad or serious.

Deliberate mistakes are rare, except perhaps in adverts for proofreaders, but those which are not deliberate can be described as genuine, honest or innocent, as in ‘Many discounts are issued incorrectly because of genuine mistakes made by claimants’.

If a mistake is very obvious, it can be described as glaring, as in ‘His application is very strong but it contains one glaring mistake’. People notice, find or spot mistakes, as in ‘If you spot a mistake, please send us the details and we will notify the people responsible for maintaining the database’.

You can rectify or correct a mistake that has already been made but it might be better to eliminate mistakes by being more careful in the first place, as in ‘Before submitting your work, use the spellchecker to eliminate any spelling mistakes’.

If you have made a mistake, it is often a good idea to admit or acknowledge it, as in ‘As regular readers will know, I do like to acknowledge my mistakes and rectify them before they do too much damage’.

If mistakes appear gradually and begin to affect things in a negative way, they can be said to creep in, as in ‘A number of mistakes had crept into the text so the results of the test were unreliable’.

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