Grammatical mistakes from an English learning center in HK

Hong Kong is a flourishing city. Thousands of trades and business deals are done inside the skyscrapers in this concrete jungle. Millions of people travelled into this small city of Hong Kong every year. To maintain our high degree of internationality, we, Hongkongers, have high English proficiency.

Or do we?

As you may already know, I am crazy about English and being a teacher (Still don’t know? see my passion statement or my Impossible List). So, today, I look for jobs about English — maybe about editorial or education — while waiting for my English education degree in Hong Kong. Then, I saw this advertisement from an English learning centre, which seems great at first.

But, it is horrible.

In this article, I will mention gerund. If you have no idea, take a look at this.

Okay, let’s start.

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Try testing your English first. What’s wrong with this advertisement?






Although I wouldn’t say my English proficiency has reached to native level, I saw some grammatical mistakes. You may say: yeah, people make mistakes.

But, you have to consider this: that’s from an educational institution! Aren’t you worried about our education?

Still don’t see what’s wrong? Scroll down now.

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Excerpt 1

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Take a look at the first word of every ‘job duty’. Verb-Gerund-Verb-Verb. The gerund is inconsistent from the rest of the job descriptions. For a case like this, it’d be best to maintain a parallel structure. e.g.

Wrong Example:

The secondary school students like reading, eating, to play sports. 😦

Correct Example:

The secondary school students like reading, eating, playing sports. 🙂

Thus, let’s change guiding (gerund) to guide (verb).

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Wait. Things still seem pretty strange. Job duties should be things to do. In other words, nouns or gerunds.

Thus, what’s better would be changing all verbs to gerunds. They should be:

Teaching, Guiding, Preparing and Communicating.

Some people may disagree with me. And, that’s okay. After all, the most important thing in using language is to let others understand.

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We can see there are two verbs (Guiding and prepare) in the second sentence (where the red arrow is pointing at). The grammar rule is we can’t put two verbs in one sentence.

A ‘to’ is needed to separate the two. The commendable sentence would be:

Guiding student to prepare for test and exams.

As I was typing the above sentence, I discovered two other grammatical mistakes.

Guiding students to prepare for tests and exams.

Because there’re several students and several kinds of tests, plural form should be used (unless there’s only one student in the learning centre and one test that the tutors will help them [or that only student]).


Grammar points to notice:

  1. Parallel Sentence
  2. One verb for a sentence
  3. Plural nouns

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Excerpt 2

At first, I don’t know why the writer repeats the phrase, ‘Fresh graduates are welcome’. Perhaps they (they? read the end of this article!) really want to emphasise it. Second, while the title is ‘requirement’, they say it’s (just) preferred. Third, the part of speech of the first words in every sentence isn’t very consistent either. But the serious grammatical problems are here:

Untitled copy

It wouldn’t be just one weekend, would it? So,

Able to work on weekends

*On weekends is commonly used in American English, while at weekends in British English.

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Adjective-adjective. Well, no. It should be something is highly preferred. We should change available to availability. Thus, we could correct it to:

Immediate availablity is highly preferred

Grammar points to notice:

  1. Plural nouns
  2. S-V-O structure (e.g. We highly prefer immediate availability.)

I can imagine the one who submits this advert is very Cantonese. When we directly translate those mistakable sentences back to Chinese, they make sense. Still, to be professional and keep our competence among other countries, Hong Kong should implement a greater, stronger change for our education.


*Bonus grammar point – One person. They?

I wrote:

‘At first, I don’t know why the writer repeats ‘Fresh guaduates are welcome’. Perhaps they really want to emphazise it.’

Oh, Tyler. You should improve your English as well. The writer is one person and you mustn’t use ‘they’. Clever boy! You can graduate from our school of The answer is: you’re partially correct. Normally, we should use he/she to indicate the unknown person. Make sense, right? One person. He or she.

The reality is you can use ‘they’ when you are not sure whether the person is a male or a female. Pretty strange? If you get the sense that person is of a specific gender, you could freely use that gender to refer him/her! A perfect example would be:

A doctor asked a nurse about the condition of a patient. She told him that they are alright.


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