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20 English Mistakes Commonly Made by Japanese People and How to Avoid Them

Learning a new language is always a challenge, and English is no exception. For Japanese learners, the journey to English fluency is often fraught with unique hurdles due to significant differences in grammar, pronunciation, and cultural expressions between the two languages.

This article will explore more than 20 common English mistakes made by Japanese speakers and provide practical tips on how to avoid them.

1. Confusing “L” and “R” Sounds

One of the most well-known pronunciation challenges for Japanese speakers is the differentiation between the English “L” and “R” sounds. In Japanese, there is no equivalent to these sounds, leading to common errors like “rice” being pronounced as “lice” or “light” as “right.”

Practice is key. Engage in focused pronunciation exercises that isolate these sounds. Listening to native speakers and repeating after them can be incredibly beneficial. Using language learning platforms like AmazingTalker which is a オンライン 英会話 platform, can provide personalized guidance to improve these specific pronunciation challenges.

2. Dropping Articles

Japanese does not have articles like “a,” “an,” or “the,” leading learners to often omit them in English. This can result in sentences like, “I saw movie” instead of “I saw a movie.”

To get accustomed to using articles, read English texts aloud, paying special attention to articles. Practice constructing sentences with articles and seek feedback from native speakers or language teachers.

3. Misusing Plurals

In Japanese, nouns do not change form to indicate pluralization. Consequently, Japanese learners might say “three cat” instead of “three cats.”

Understand the rule that adding an “s” or “es” to a noun typically makes it plural in English. Engage in exercises that focus on plural forms and use flashcards to reinforce learning. Regularly writing and speaking about various quantities can help solidify this rule.

4. Incorrect Word Order

Japanese sentence structure often places the verb at the end of the sentence, unlike English. For example, a Japanese learner might say, “I to the store go” instead of “I go to the store.”

Practice constructing sentences in the subject-verb-object order used in English. Reading English books and watching English-language media can help internalize this structure. Rewriting sentences from Japanese to English and vice versa can also aid in understanding the correct order.

5. Overusing “and”

Japanese learners may overuse “and” to connect clauses or ideas, resulting in sentences like, “I went to the store and I bought apples and I came home.”

Learn to use conjunctions like “but,” “because,” “so,” and “then” to create more complex and varied sentences. Practice writing and speaking with different conjunctions and seek feedback to ensure clarity and variety.

6. Mispronouncing Vowels

Japanese has fewer vowel sounds than English, leading to mispronunciations. For instance, “ship” might be pronounced as “sheep.”

Work on distinguishing between similar vowel sounds through listening and repetition exercises. Tools like online pronunciation guides and language learning apps can provide auditory examples for practice.

7. Using Literal Translations

Direct translations from Japanese to English can result in awkward or incorrect phrases. For example, “I’m sorry to trouble you” might be directly translated inappropriately.

Learn common English expressions and idioms. Practice thinking in English rather than translating from Japanese.

8. Omitting the Subject

Japanese often omits the subject of a sentence when it is understood from context, a practice that can lead to confusion in English. For example, “Is raining” instead of “It is raining.”

Always include the subject in English sentences. Practice rewriting Japanese sentences with explicit subjects in English. Reading English materials where subjects are consistently used can reinforce this habit.

9. Confusing Prepositions

Prepositions in English are notoriously tricky and often misused by Japanese learners. Common mistakes include using “in” instead of “at” (e.g., “I am in the station” instead of “I am at the station”).

Study the specific uses of prepositions and practice through exercises and real-life application. Visual aids and mnemonic devices can also help remember correct prepositions.

10. Misusing Verb Tenses

Japanese learners often struggle with English verb tenses, resulting in sentences like, “I eat lunch yesterday” instead of “I ate lunch yesterday.”

Regular practice with verb conjugation tables and exercises focusing on different tenses can help. Speaking and writing regularly while paying attention to time markers (yesterday, today, tomorrow) can also reinforce correct tense usage.

11. Overusing Politeness

The Japanese language places a high value on politeness, often leading to overly formal expressions in English. For example, “I humbly request your assistance” may sound too formal in casual English conversation.

Understand the appropriate level of formality for different contexts in English. Practice with native speakers to get a feel for natural expressions of politeness that fit various situations.

12. Confusing Singular and Plural Pronouns

Japanese does not distinguish between singular and plural pronouns as clearly as English, leading to mistakes like, “He are coming” instead of “He is coming.”

Practice using pronouns in various contexts and pay attention to subject-verb agreement. Exercises that focus on matching pronouns with the correct verbs can be particularly helpful.

13. Misunderstanding Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Japanese learners may use incorrect quantifiers with uncountable nouns, resulting in phrases like “a few information” instead of “some information.”

Learn the difference between countable and uncountable nouns and the appropriate quantifiers for each. Practice through reading and writing exercises that emphasize these distinctions.

14. Incorrect Intonation and Stress

Japanese is a pitch-accent language, whereas English relies more on intonation and stress patterns to convey meaning. Incorrect stress can lead to misunderstandings.

Listen to and mimic native speakers, paying close attention to stress and intonation. Recording your speech and comparing it to native examples can also help identify areas for improvement.

15. Using “is” with Adjectives

Japanese learners often add “is” unnecessarily before adjectives, creating sentences like, “She is very beautiful” instead of “She is very beautiful.”

Remember that in English, adjectives do not require “is” unless they are part of a subject-predicate structure. Practice constructing sentences with adjectives correctly through speaking and writing exercises.

16. Literal Use of “Please”

Japanese uses “please” more frequently and differently than English, sometimes leading to phrases like “Please take care of me” instead of “Thank you” or “Nice to meet you.”

Learn the appropriate contexts for using “please” in English. Engage in conversations with native speakers to understand common polite expressions and their proper usage.

17. Struggling with Contractions

Japanese learners may avoid using contractions, resulting in overly formal speech like “I am going to the store” instead of “I’m going to the store.”

Practice using contractions in both writing and speaking. Reading aloud from materials that include contractions can help make them more familiar and natural to use.

18. Confusing “Too” and “Very”

Using “too” when “very” is intended, such as “It is too hot” when meaning “It is very hot.”

Understand that “too” implies excessiveness and often a negative connotation, while “very” simply intensifies an adjective. Practice by creating sentences with both words to see the difference in meaning.

19. Inconsistent Use of Capitalization

Japanese does not have capitalization, which can lead to inconsistent use in English, such as “i went to tokyo.”

Learn and consistently apply the rules of capitalization in English. Practice by editing written texts to correct capitalization errors.

20. Difficulty with Homophones

Confusing homophones like “their,” “there,” and “they’re,” which do not exist in Japanese.

Practice distinguishing homophones through writing exercises and context-based learning. Flashcards and online quizzes can also be useful tools.


Overcoming these common English mistakes requires consistent practice, exposure to the language, and constructive feedback. Utilizing resources such as AmazingTalker, Duolingo can provide オンライン 英語 (online English) support in mastering these challenges. With dedication and the right strategies, Japanese learners can achieve fluency and confidence in English.

By understanding and addressing these specific areas of difficulty, Japanese speakers can make significant strides in their English language journey, enhancing their ability to communicate effectively and naturally in a global context.

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