Tagged: substitution

Use ‘it’ with care

ūüė¶ People who live in remote areas sometimes have limited access to the things they want to buy.¬†Since it cannot be provided by retail shops, online shopping may be the solution.

To make your writing¬†‘flow’ so that pieces of information connect together well, use ‘it’ only when ‘it’ refers back to the subject of the previous sentence.

When you use ‘it’ then the¬†subject will be either singular countable or uncountable:

  • My¬†watch was expensive. It is a gold watch. I love it.
  • Beer is delicious. It is also expensive. I love it.

In the opening example the reader searches¬†for but cannot find a subject to match ‘it’. For a start, all of the nouns are plural!

After re-reading the text two or three times we see¬†you are using¬†‘it’ to refer to¬†‘the things people want to buy’, which is rather confusing since ‘the things people want to buy’ is not the subject of the previous sentence and it is neither singular countable nor uncountable.

This kind of mismatch interrupts the flow of information in the text and brings down your score for coherence and cohesion in IELTS writing, as well as your score for fluency in IELTS speaking.

In order to maintain ‘flow’ in the¬†online shopping example, you need to do this:

ūüôā People who live in remote areas sometimes have limited access to the things they want to buy.¬†Since the things that people who live in remote areas want to buy¬†cannot be provided by retail shops, online shopping may be the solution.

And for even better flow you can¬†remind your reader about the context of those retail shops. After all, you’re not talking about retail shops in the middle of a large city, are you?

ūüôā People who live in remote areas sometimes have limited access to the things they want to buy.¬†Since¬†the things that people who live in remote areas want to buy¬†cannot be provided by retail shops in those areas, online shopping may be the solution.

Students often complain, “..but now¬†there’s a lot of repetition!”

Perhaps, but your first priority is to communicate effectively. If the only way to achieve this is by repeating a few words, then you MUST repeat them.

And remember –¬†‘it’ refers¬†back to the subject of the previous sentence. Do not make this kind of mistake:

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@eapguru

 

Pronoun substitution and an alternative

ūüė¶ When people go to real shops, the goods are visible. They can try clothes¬†on and know what materials were used.

Almost! But..

A personal pronoun at the beginning of a sentence refers back to the subject of the previous sentence, and in this case the subject of the previous sentence is ‘the goods’. ‘When people go to real shops’ is an adverb phrase. So obviously that doesn’t make sense: “The goods can try clothes¬†on!?”

If you want to use ‘They’ as a substitute for ‘the goods’,¬†that’s tricky but not impossible:

ūüôā When people go to real shops, the goods are visible.¬†They¬†can be touched, and¬†the¬†material from which they were made can be seen and felt.

But that’s probably not what you wanted. You wanted ‘People’ as the subject of the second sentence, right? In that case you simply need to state the subject in the second sentence:

ūüôā When people go to real shops, the goods are visible.¬†People¬†can try clothes¬†on and know what materials were used.

Now you have nice cohesion between the two sentences, with ‘people’ in both sentences. However, to make your writing more coherent you could be more specific about ‘people’:

ūüôā When people go to real shops, the goods are visible.¬†People¬†in real shops can try¬†clothes¬†on and know what materials were used.

And finally to avoid repetition you can do this:

ūüôā When people go to real shops, the goods are visible.¬†Customers¬†in real shops¬†can try¬†clothes¬†on and know what materials were used.

So in fact you didn’t need¬†to use pronoun substitution.¬†Instead the two sentences are glued together (cohesive) thanks to the use of ‘people (who) go to real shops’ in sentence 1 and ‘customers in real shops’ in sentence 2.

You could probably also use a synonym for ‘real’ in sentence 2, but I can’t think of one. Can you? Comments below! ūüôā

@eapguru