Commonly Confused Usages in English

English is a language that is constantly evolving, and hence, every individual has to continuously keep track of the changes that are being made in the language. Only this kind of updation can help the individual feel like they are a part of the current generation and the present world. Keeping in touch with the regular developments in the language need not necessarily be a difficult task. All that is needed is for the language learner to show some interest in the language, and everything else will just follow.

Now, take a look at the simplest yet confusing verbs that are used both as main verbs and helping verbs in our everyday communication.

Verbs with Similar Functions 

There are multiple sets of verbs that look alike or sound alike but have different meanings and functions. Sometimes, these verbs have the same meanings and functions, but their usage in sentences depends upon the noun or pronoun that acts as the subject in that particular sentence. Have and has, will and shall, may and might, can and could, has and had, etc., are some examples of verb combinations that look similar and have similar functions but still have different rules of usage. 

Have a look at two of these verb combinations to have a more detailed idea of how these verbs work when used with different nouns and pronouns which act as the subject in a sentence. The difference between has and have can be understood better if we analyse the various ways in which they are used in sentences. 

Example 1:

  • I have an extra pen. Do you need it?
  • She has a brother. 

In the above sentences, ‘have’ and ‘has’ are used as main verbs. In these sentences, the verbs are used to show possession of something. 

Example 2: 

    • Tina has watched this movie three times. 
  • Have you read the newly released book of Chetan Bhagat?

In the above examples, the verbs ‘has’ and ‘have’ are used as auxiliary verbs and when used along with the past participle of the main verb, form the present perfect tense. 

What you have to notice in both the examples is that the verb ‘has’ is used with third-person singular pronouns and the verb ‘have’ is used with first-person pronouns, second-person pronouns and third-person plural pronouns. 

The next verb combination that confuses most second language learners of English is the usage of the verbs ‘shall’ and ‘will’. Analysing the difference between shall and will with reference to their functions is what will help you in understanding it well. Both the verbs are used as modal verbs in order to make suggestions, references, requests and orders. 

Look at the following examples to see how they work. 

Example 1: 

  • Shall we sign up for the art workshop?
    • I shall always remember the time we spent together. 
  • Will you be able to complete the project within the given time frame?
  • Will you leave immediately?
  • We shall come and visit you at the hospital for sure. 

The only thing that you have to keep in mind when using these two verbs is that the verb ‘shall’ is mostly used with the I, you and we.