In a previous post I showed how you can avoid relative clauses when you’re post-modifying nouns. This is especially useful in IELTS Task 1 writing where you have to modify a statistics word (number, amount, etc.) to include information from the axes of a graph, or from the labels attached to a chart, or from the column and row headings of a table.
Here I want to appeal to Indonesian students to think again before translating ‘yang’ when post-modifying nouns. Let’s compare a few sentences written by Indonesian students with their likely equivalents written by native English speakers:
|Student sentence with error||The picture that on the wall is from Australia.|
|Student sentence without error||The picture that is on the wall is from Australia.|
|Native speaker||The picture on the wall is from Australia.|
|Strategy used||preposition phrase to post-modify the noun|
|Student sentence with error||The person who teach us is PG.|
|Student sentence without error||The person who is teaching us is PG.|
|Native speaker||The person teaching us is PG.|
|Strategy used||___ing to to post-modify the noun|
|Modified noun||department store|
|Student sentence with error||The department store that located in Bridge Street is SOGO.|
|Student sentence without error||The department store that is located in Bridge Street is SOGO.|
|Native speaker||The department store located in Bridge Street is SOGO.|
|Strategy used||V3 to post-modify the noun|
In these examples I used three very useful strategies to post-modify nouns:
- preposition phrases
Notice that when you avoid the relative pronoun ‘that’ ( YANG!), then you also avoid a common error made by Indonesian students – not adding the verb ‘to be’ to the relative clause.
Try using these strategies instead of relative clauses and see how it increases your score for vocabulary in IELTS writing and speaking!
😦 Consequently, people lived in remote areas sometimes have limited access to learning resources.
Here the student wants to post-modify the noun ‘people’ using a verb – ‘live’. When post-modifying nouns using verbs, one option is to use a non-finite verb. Don’t worry you don’t need to google ‘non-finite’ – that’s just a fancy name for the following little group of verb forms:
- __ing (sometimes called present participle)
- __ed (sometimes called past participle)
- to + v1
If you’re using __ed to extend or ‘post-modify’ a noun, then you’re really using a kind of shortened relative clause:
😦 “..people who are lived in remote areas..”
In this case you end up with a passive construction (to be + V3), which obviously doesn’t make sense here because a thing or a person cannot ‘be lived’.
‘Live’ is an intransitive verb – it doesn’t take an object. But no worries, we can easily re-write the noun phrase with a relative clause and a transitive verb so that it makes sense:
🙂 “..people who are situated in remote areas..”
Native speakers will nearly always shorten this relative clause to leave the non-finite verb only:
🙂 “..people situated in remote areas..”
Finally, the noun phrase can now be incorporated into the sentence like this:
🙂 Consequently, people situated in remote areas sometimes have limited access to learning resources.
Alternatively we could stick with ‘live’ but use __ing:
🙂 Consequently, people living in remote areas sometimes have limited access to learning resources.
In this case we are shortening another relative clause but we don’t have to consider whether or not the verb is transitive:
🙂 “..people who are living in remote areas..”
When post-modifying nouns, native speakers generally use the shortened version without the relative pronoun.
To end this post, it’s worth putting non-finite verbs in context with other common methods for post-modifying nouns:
|preposition phrases||relative clauses||__ing, __ed, to+V1||time expressions|
Sometimes these are interchangeable:
the number of plastic bags used by consumers in 2015 in America
the number of plastic bags used in America by consumers in 2015
And I’ll throw in a relative clause just to show off:
the number of plastic bags used by consumers in 2015 in America which are not made of biodegradable material
Notice that the __ed phrase also has a preposition phrase embedded into it:
used by consumers
used in America
And notice that time expressions are often also preposition phrases:
after I finished work
I hope all of that helps and look forward to hearing your feedback!
Happy people – ‘people’ pre-modified using ‘happy’
People everywhere – ‘people post-modified with ‘everywhere’
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