When you first start speaking English, your main goal should be communicating – understanding others and making sure they understand you. BUT as you get better at English, it is important to learn to speak naturally. Here are some common ‘unnatural’ direct translations from Chinese that you should try to avoid.


Mistake: Wait me a second. (等我一下!)

Correction: Give me a second. or Please wait a second/ minute/ moment. or Can you wait for me?

Explanation:  If you use an object with the verb wait, then you need to use the preposition for. ‘Wait for him/ her/ me’. 


Mistake: Could you kindly reply by Tuesday? (可以請你周二前回信給我嗎?)

Correction: Could you reply by Tuesday? Or, if you want to be very polite: Would you be able to reply by Tuesday?

Explanation: In Taiwan, it’s quite common to see ‘kindly + verb’ I emails. In English, we often use kindly + verb’ in emails or notices if we are giving a warning. E.g. “Please kindly refrain from smoking on the premises” If you want to be polite, use ‘please’ or an indirect question e.g. ‘could you….’ Or ‘would you be able to…’. 


Mistake: Could you please feedback me by next week? (可以請你下周前回覆嗎?)

Correction: Could you please get back to me by next week? Or Could you please give me some feedback by next week?


Feedback is a noun, but in the example sentence, it is being used (incorrectly) as a verb.


Mistake: I have to write my homework. (我要寫功課)

Correction: I have to do my homework.

Explanation: Vocabulary = In English, we don’t write homework, but we do homework.