mistake: ✓ to make a mistake, to do something wrong, to get something wrong ✗ to *do* a mistake, to mistake, *to wrong* something

By | October 3, 2016
mistake: to make a mistake, to do something wrong, to get something wrong …
to *do* a mistake, to mistake, *to wrong* something
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Una persona che non ha mai sbagliato non ha mai provato niente di nuovo.
- Albert Einstein
✓ Sorry, I made a mistake and arranged two meetings at the same time.
✗ Sorry, I *mistook* and arranged two meetings at the same time.
Scusami, ho sbagliato e ho fissato due riunioni per la stessa ora.
✓ I got number five wrong.
✗ I *wronged* number five.
Ho sbagliato il numero cinque.
The correct verb to use with mistake is make, not *do*.
✓ I’ve made a few mistakes in my life.
✗ I’ve *done* a few mistakes in my life.
Ho fatto qualche errore nella mia vita.
Unfortunately (!), in English the verb to mistake doesn’t mean “do something wrong” or “commit an error”. (A couple of specific “exceptions” are explained below.)
Some more examples:
✓ Don’t worry – it’s an easy mistake to make.
✗ Don’t worry – it’s an easy mistake to *do*.
✗ Don’t worry – it’s easy to *mistake* it.
Non preoccuparti – è un errore facile da commettere.
The verb to mistake exists in English, but with a very specific meaning. If someone mistakes someone/something for someone/something else, they think they are that person or thing when they are not. For example:
✓ Sorry, I mistook you for someone else.
Scusami, ti ho scambiato per qualcun altro.
✓ My dog mistook the postman’s leg for breakfast.
Il mio cane ha scambiato la gamba del postino per colazione.
✓ The doctor mistook my allergy for a common cold.
Il medico ha confuso la mia allergia con un raffreddore normale.
Finally, if someone mistakes something, they don’t recognise or understand it. For example:
✓ The government continues to mistake the will of the people.
Il governo continua a non capire la volontà del popolo.

huge_mistake
Now try the quiz below! There are FIVE answers. The pass mark is 80% (4 out of 5). Click on the blue arrows to go to the next or previous question. You can check your answers immediately or when you've finished the quiz.

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