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  1. #1
    sultanee is offline Newbie
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    Default error vs. mistake

    hi everyone
    hope you are well
    can anyone answer this question please?
    what is the difference between errors and mistakes?
    our linguistics teacher said: native speakers make mistakes sometimes
    but they never commit errors when they speak.However, foreign learners commit both errors and mistakes while speaking.
    so, what is the difference?
    and can anyone give me some examples?

  2. #2
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    They are the same, but since "error" is French, and "mistake' is Anglo-Saxon, the former is used in academic contexts, the latter generally in daily speech.

    E.g. "Error Analysis in Native Speakers of Farsi."
    E.g. "Sorry, I made a mistake."

  3. #3
    Soup's Avatar
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by sultanee View Post
    hi everyone
    hope you are well
    can anyone answer this question please?
    what is the difference between errors and mistakes?
    our linguistics teacher said: native speakers make mistakes sometimes
    but they never commit errors when they speak.However, foreign learners commit both errors and mistakes while speaking.
    so, what is the difference?
    and can anyone give me some examples?
    Mistake (you know it's wrong)
    For example, you know how to spell the words they're and their, but in writing an email one day you type "Their nice people." It's grammatically wrong, of course, and you know that, but you don't realize it's wrong at the time because you are busy typing and thinking, and not focused on spelling.

    Error (you don't know it's wrong)

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by sultanee View Post
    hi everyone
    hope you are well
    can anyone answer this question please?
    what is the difference between errors and mistakes?
    our linguistics teacher said: native speakers make mistakes sometimes
    but they never commit errors when they speak.However, foreign learners commit both errors and mistakes while speaking.
    so, what is the difference?
    and can anyone give me some examples?
    Soup is right. As specialist linguistics terms (Corder, 1967), errors result from lack of knowledge, while mistakes are performance phenomena, such as writing it's for its.
    The terms are used to differentiate these concepts.
    1. He go to school. (Error. The student has not learnt the 3rd person form)
    2. He goes to scool. (Mistake. The student knows the correct spelling, but wrote it wrongly)

    kon: it's a mistake if, once it's pointed out to you, you immediately realise you've made a mistake.

    However, in colloquial English, a mistake is an error.
    Last edited by Raymott; 16-Nov-2009 at 14:14.

  5. #5
    sultanee is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Mistake (you know it's wrong)
    For example, you know how to spell the words they're and their, but in writing an email one day you type "Their nice people." It's grammatically wrong, of course, and you know that, but you don't realize it's wrong at the time because you are busy typing and thinking, and not focused on spelling.

    Error (you don't know it's wrong)
    Thank you a lot for your clarification
    I got it now

  6. #6
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    Thanks, I was unaware of that. My formal education was in French, where that English-language usage is not present.

  7. #7
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    Do you agree that native speakers never make errors?

    Surely not everyone has mastery of nuances of his/her native tongue? Or would that then simply be considered a dialect/colloquial?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    I have only ever thought of them as we were taught, in terms of performance vs competence (the Port-Royal terminology adopted by Chomsky).

    I agree with Barb that native speakers make errors fairly often. (If I follow her correctly.)

  9. #9
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    I'm thinking, for example, of "lie/lay."

    Many native English speakers say "I laid there" for "I lay there" -- and they don't know it's wrong. Or "Him being there was a comfort" instead of "His being there..." Or they use a plural verb for an X of the Ys subject... or... well, there are tons of mistakes people make that if you told them what the problem was, they wouldn't say "Oh yes! how silly of me!" They would say "Huh??"
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  10. #10
    konungursvia's Avatar
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    Default Re: error vs. mistake

    Yep. And it's a competence issue.

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