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Common Mistakes to be avoided in English Translation

A well written text or article possesses some basic qualities like correct grammar, proper sentence construction and no spelling mistakes. While attempting English translation the translator needs to adhere to these rules as well. Reproducing a written material in another language is almost like writing it all over again. So, a good translator needs to be a good writer first.

There are certain qualities that make a writer a good writer; one of them is avoiding the common mistakes in English writing. Writing in simple and concise manner is considered a virtue of a good writer. Adding to that, being aware of the common mistakes that many writers often commit are an advantage too.

Here we will discuss about some common mistakes that writers and translators need to keep in mind while translating into English. Let’s have a look at some of these very common English writing mistakes-

Using Passive Expressions

Too many passive expressions in the writing often rob it of its beauty. Passive constructions make a sentence sound dry. It is a better idea to use passive expressions only when the doer is unknown or you are intentionally avoiding its name. Barring these situations, it is good to avoid them. An example,

Instead of, “The broken piece of the toy is fixed by me” use “I have fixed the broken piece of the toy”.

‘Due to’ and ‘Because of’

The phrases like ‘due to’, ‘because of’ make a sentence unnecessary complicated without adding much value to the meaning. It often makes the sentences less clear. For example,

Instead of, “Due to excessive cold, he felt sick”, “Excessive cold makes him fall sick” is clearer.

Using ‘Whether’ Alone

The word ‘whether’ cannot be used alone as the complete phrase is ‘whether or not’. When it is used alone, it does not complete the sense. For instance,

“You should decide first whether you want to join the college band” is incorrect. “You should decide first whether you want to join the college band or not” is the right expression.

Inappropriate Use of ‘Different’

It is not always enough to say something is different as that can be vague. When you are saying something is different from the other it is important to say in what way. For example, ‘different cultures’ is meaningful but ‘different software’ does not convey complete sense.

Quality - Good or Bad?

Using the word ‘quality’ before a noun is incomplete as the quality of the product can be good or bad. To make complete sense one needs to mention that as well. For Example, “This one is a quality smartphone” is confusing. Rather “This one is a high-quality smartphone” is right.

Wrong Comparisons

While writing comparative sentences often writers miss a crucial word that changes the meaning of the sentence. It is important to be clear about which things are compared. For example, “Japanese cars consume less fuel than Americans” is wrong while “Japanese cars consume less fuel than American ones” is appropriate.

Being Too Complex

Using too many complex sentences can unnecessarily complicate the text and make it difficult to understand. It is certainly a better idea to use simple and straight sentences so that everybody can easily understand.

Incorrect Phrase

Writers often use some incorrect phrases despite knowing, like ‘I could care less’ instead of ‘I couldn’t care less’. Such mistakes alter the meaning of the sentence. So, it is important to be careful of such mistakes.


English translation services are a very important aspect of the global business scenario. So experienced English translators who are not only expert linguists, but also has a keen eye for the mistakes. To err is human. So, a good translator is one who learns from the mistakes and tries to avoid them in his writings. The above-mentioned mistakes are some of the very common one while there are many more. To improve constantly the translator needs to be aware of them and keep learning till the end.