😦 The experience I got from this job has strong contributions in changing my character from employee to leader.
This is a word that has been borrowed from English and is now used in Indonesian as the noun kontribusi. However, it’s difficult to find a verb that collocates with the noun contribution in English. Certainly you would not use ‘have’ + ‘contributions’. In English, contribution usually appears before the verb, as the subject of a sentence. In addition, contribution (subject) often refers either to money or to the efforts of a person or people. In the example above, however, experience and changing are both abstract nouns where one is the cause and the other is the effect.
If you want to communicate cause effect then you need the verb form contribute. There are still collocation issues, but heck – that gives you something to show off in your IELTS writing, right?
The experience I got from this job has contributed greatly to changing my character from employee to leader.
- cause (n) + contributes + (adv) + to + effect (n)
- greatly (adv) collocates strongly with contribute (v)
Remember that when both nouns are abstract, contribute to behaves as a cause effect signal. This is a relatively low-frequency signal and is therefore a good signal to use in IELTS writing as an alternative to the more common verb cause.
Contribute to is also weaker than cause and is therefore useful when you want to express less than 100% certainty:
- Greenhouse gases cause global warming. (Strong – implies no other causes)
- Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. (Weaker – implies there may be other causes)
Using weak verbs is one of several strategies for weakening debatable claims. I deal with other strategies in other posts. You can find two more strategies here.
😦 Students can take a break while they are studying in college for refreshing.
This word has been borrowed from English and used in Indonesian as a noun. However, in English ‘refreshing’ is not a noun, and the closest noun available is ‘refreshment’, but this is used almost exclusively for food and drink.
‘Refreshing’ is an adjective:
- Students can take a refreshing break while they are studying at college.
- Taking a break while studying at college can be refreshing.
Refreshed and refreshing
IELTS candidates are often asked to explain why they enjoy certain activities, for example going to the beach at the weekend. In this case both the adjectives ‘refreshing’ and ‘refreshed’ might be used:
- Going to the beach at the weekend is refreshing.
- When I go to the beach at the weekend I feel refreshed.
Refreshing and refreshed follow the same rule as bored and boring, where the __ing form is for the source, and the __ed form is used for the receiver:
- I feel refreshed. (receiver: I)
- Going to the beach is refreshing. (source: Going to the beach)
Finally, you might use the verb ‘refresh’:
- I go to the beach at the weekend to refresh myself.
Notice that in this case you must include an object: refresh myself. Also notice that when you’re explaining why you do something, you use to + V1 (not for).
Check out these other examples of ‘refreshing’.
😦 People call this as the ‘big data era’.
In Bahasa Indonesia disebut (called) collocates strongly with sebagai (as). Not so in English. Indeed, sebagai is often redundant in English, except when it collocates with certain verbs.
The correct options here are:
- People call this the ‘big data era’. (active call without as)
- This era is called the ‘big data era’. (passive call without as)
- This era is known as the ‘big data era’. (passive know with as)
Most native speakers would probably use number 1, except when the term being introduced is somehow scientific:
Liquids tend to travel quickly along very narrow spaces. This phenomenon is known as capillary attraction.
Be careful. If you want to use known as then you need to begin with some of the defining characteristics of the ‘known’ phenomenon:
Recently data has become so complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with it. This data is now known as ‘big data’.
Indonesians.. Once again, be careful with sebagai! It collocates differently in English.
This is a common mistake made by Indonesians translating ‘tanya’ instead of ‘minta’.
The options in English are (take a deep breath!):
- I’ll ask the waiter. (ask someone)
- I’ll ask the waiter to bring us the menu. (ask someone to do something)
- I’ll ask the waiter about the menu. (ask someone about something/someone)
- I’ll ask the waiter for the menu. (ask someone for something)
- I’ll ask for the menu. (ask for something/someone)
Most native speakers would probably use Number 5.
Notice that ask something is not in this list. The picture below shows what might happen if you ask the menu!
Possibly there are different ways to translate the correct forms into Indonesian. I know that I’m never confident when using tanya and minta in Indonesian. If you have any suggestions, please share in the comments box below!
😦 Happiness is depend on a person’s view of their life.
Students often mistakenly add to be to V1 to make present simple tense. It could be that they have seen other structures using to be and apply the same ‘rules’ to present simple verb forms.
Let’s take a look at some structures that use to be and think about those that do not.
‘to be’ + adjective
- Roses are red.
- I’m tired.
- Isn’t it hot today? (Positive: It is hot today.)
In these examples, adjectives give information about nouns: ‘red’ tells us about ‘Roses’, ‘tired’ tells us about ‘I’, etc. Notice that the verb to be needs to ‘agree’ with the subject. ‘Are’ agrees with ‘Roses’ (3rd person plural 1), ‘Am’ agrees with ‘I’ (1st person singular 1), etc.
‘to be’ + noun
- I’m a doctor.
- These chairs are office chairs.
- Indonesia is an Asian country.
In these examples, nouns give information about other nouns. ‘Doctor’ gives information about ‘I’, ‘office chairs’ gives information about ‘these chairs’, etc. Notice again that in each example the verb to be agrees with the subject. ‘Am’ agrees with ‘I’ (1st person singular 1), etc.
‘to be’ + preposition phrase
- He’s in his office.
- The chairs are on the back of the truck.
- Indonesia is in south-east Asia.
In these examples preposition phrases give information about nouns: ‘in his office’ tells us about ‘He’, ‘on the back of the truck’ tells us about ‘The chairs’, etc.
‘to be’ + verb
In our opening example, to be is put before the verb depend (V1).
This is incorrect! The only time to be appears before a verb is when the form of the verb is continuous:
- My brother is preparing to sit the IELTS test.
- This time next week I will be sitting on a beach sipping martinis.
- In 2005 they were living in Australia.
Notice the tense may be past, present or future! Again, make sure that subjects ‘agree’ with verbs!
If you are not familiar with the conjugation of verbs (1st person, 2nd person, etc.), see here.
😦 I experience the same problems with you.
This is direct translation from Bahasa Indonesia (sama dengan). It’s not incorrect but I’m fairly certain it’s not what you mean!
In English when you want to say that things are the same, the collocation is usually same as:
I experience the same problems as you.
In this case you experience problem X, problem Y and problem Z, and I also experience problems X, Y and Z. We both experience the same problems, and we are sharing our problems with each other, as friends.
Same with communicates quite a different meaning:
I experience the same problems with you.
In this case I experience problems with somebody else – for example someone lies to me and never helps me – and I experience the same problems with you – you also lie to me and never help me!
Very often this is expressed using ‘it’:
That person always lies to me and never helps me, and it’s the same with you.
Most of the time you mean same as, so think carefully next time you write same with!