Six common mistakes in ESL writing

The six top common writing mistakes in English for learners of English as a second language, including examples and corrections.

Although "ESL" (English as a Second Language) is commonly used to refer to students whose first language is not English, professionals in the field now prefer "non-native [English] speakers" (NNS) or "multilingual students." The term "multilingual" acknowledges both students' ability to function in multiple languages and the difficulty they face when writing in English.

Mentioned below are the 6 common mistakes in ESL writing:-

1- Switching tenses unnecessarily-

Keep the following points in mind to avoid this issue: 

  • In general, choose a primary tense and stick to it at the sentence, paragraph, and overall work level. 
  • Only change tenses when necessary, such as when there is a time shift that must be shown.
  • Reread your writing and consider whether it is in the past, present, or future. 
  • Pay attention to your verbs and the tense they are in.

2- Excessive long paragraphs-

To avoid such mistakes, two to five paragraphs per A4 page is a good rule of thumb (assuming single line spacing). Additionally, try to limit each paragraph to a single main idea or topic.

3- Inconsistency in spelling style( UK ENGLISH/ US ENGLISH)-

The most common examples are: 

as in "colour" and "color" -our (BrE) and -or (AmE) 

  1. as in "organise" and "organize" -ise (BrE) and -ize (AmE) 
  1. Practical tip: This problem is easily solved by ensuring that MS Word's spell check is set to the appropriate spelling setting.

4- Writing in first person in an academic context-

Prevent putting together personal statements and using personal pronouns such as "I/me/my" to assure that you are writing in the third person.

5- Incorrect capitalisation-

Be aware of the distinctions between proper and common nouns, as these are the most common capitalization issues among ESL writers. "Car/truck/lorry/van," for example, are common nouns, whereas "Honda/suzuki/Ford/Toyota" are proper nouns.

6- Incorrect use of articles-

There are no shortcuts to using articles correctly. Continue to practise using articles in your writing and seek feedback from friends, teachers, or the EnglishClub forums.


In order to be presentable and attractive we should avoid these mistakes in ESL writing. It might look very normal but it's really unprofessional. We hope you learned something from this article and for more information and to correct these mistakes you can download the SpeakoClub application and do a lot better in the field of English.