These are some common mistakes made by Japanese learners of English. I hope this is helpful for you!
- Later vs. In, From now
I often hear students say something like "I'm going to Korea two months later," which isn't correct. In this case, you need to use the words from now: "I'm going to Korea two months from now," or the word in: "I'm going to Korea in two months."
Here are some example sentences using from now and later:
Talking about the future: from now, in
Ten days from now we're going to New York.
He is going to have a soccer tournament in two months.
Talking about the past: later
In 2002 I lived in Paris. Three years later, I moved to London.
I planned to take a vacation in March last year, but I couldn't take one until two months later.
*Important: Be careful with "from now" - many people use this in the wrong way. ONLY use it with a future time span, such as "three hours from now" or "five years from now." If there is no time span, we simply use "in" or another preposition. For example:
O I'm going to France in August.
X I'm going to France from August.
O This year I'm trying to read more books.
X From this year I'm trying to read more books.
- Ago vs. Before
These are very similar words! This is how we use them:
Talking NOW about the past: ago
Two weeks ago I played soccer.
We just went to Disneyland four months ago.
Talking IN THE PAST about the past: before
In December, I was very happy because just one month before I had started working on Cafetalk and it was fun!
Last year we lived in Tokyo, and the year before that we lived in Barcelona.
- Print vs. Worksheet
When you're talking about a paper with some exercises that you use for class, the correct word is worksheet. The word "print" (プリント) is not used in English to talk about worksheets.
(I actually use the word プリント sometimes after living in Japan though!) （；^ω^）
- Telling time
When telling the time between :00 and :10, many students have trouble! For these times, here is an example of how we say them:
6:01 = six-oh-one
7:02 = seven-oh-two
8:03 = eight-oh-three
9:04 = nine-oh-four
10:05 = ten-oh-five
11:06 = eleven-oh-six
12:07 = twelve-oh-seven
1:08 = one-oh-eight
2:09 = two-oh-nine
(If you want, you can listen to my voice recording here.)
☆ We don't say "six-one" or "seven-two."
I often hear students use the word "challenge" like this: "I am going to challenge the EIKEN." However, this isn't correct. If you want to say something like "英検をチャレンジするつもりだ," you can say it like this:
I want to try taking the EIKEN. OR
I'm going to challenge myself by taking the EIKEN.
Here are some more examples:
She is going to challenge herself to pass level 2 of the EIKEN.
He is going to try skydiving.
They are going to try to eat 10 bowls of ramen.
He is going to challenge himself to exercise every day this year.
- But vs. However
In formal writing, it is never OK to start a sentence with "but":
X I don't like cats. But I like dogs.
X She's good at sports. But she can't do math.
These sentences should always be combined like this:
O I don't like cats, but I like dogs.
O She's good at sports, but she can't do math.
If you want to make a new sentence, you should use the word however. (however = but)
O I don't like dogs. However, I like cats.
O She's good at sports. However, she can't do math.
☆In creative writing and informal writing however, it is OK to start a sentence with "but."