Tagged: writing

Youths or young people?

😦 These days youths are more challenged by the future because making decisions about the future is not easy.

This is grammatically correct but inappropriate.

The countable noun youth tends to have negative connotations, especially when it’s plural or part of the lexical phrase the youth of today:

  • Youths at football matches often cause trouble.
  • The youth of today have no respect for others.

Youths are troublemakers, at that awkward age between childhood and adulthood when they rebel against authority and indulge in sex, drugs and rock and roll, often with negative consequences. Youths hang around town in gangs and old ladies are afraid of them.

youths

‘Youths’ in a residential area.

Most of the time in IELTS Task 2 essays you want to maintain a more positive – or at least neutral – attitude to young people, and so it’s probably best to refer to them as exactly that – young people!

These days young people are more challenged by the future because making decisions about the future is not easy.

Another option for IELTS writing would be:

These days the younger generation are more challenged by the future because making decisions about the future is not easy.

youngpeople

Clean living young people facing the future as responsible members of society!

In IELTS Task 2 you also often want to make a prediction about how a situation may affect young people in the future. In this case you are talking about future generations:

  • Global warming is a problem that governments need to solve for the sake of future generations.
  • Future generations will prosper as long as they follow a healthy lifestyle.

Notice that we assume there will be more than one future generation and if we’re generalising then there is no article (the).

@eapguru

 

 

 

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Contribution, cause, effect

😦 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.

Notice!

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.

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Two chill pills for writers

😦 Students experience stress when they enter university because college life is tough and tiring.

In my opinion this writer needs to take a chill pill. The claim he or she is making about university seems highly subjective and emotional.

The first problem is that there are plenty of students – myself included – who do not experience stress when they enter university. Secondly, college life is not always tough and tiring. College life includes fun social activities with friends, holidays, and leisure activities on and off campus. Both of these ideas can be incorporated into the original statement after taking two chill pills:

Students often experience stress when they enter university because college life can be tough and tiring.

  1. (Pill 1) The adverb often tells us two things:
    • the frequency of stress (not always!)
    • the number of students who experience stress (not all!)
  2. (Pill 2) The modal can tells us about the possibility that college life is not always tough and tiring (It’s possible, but maybe not.)

Why is it a good idea to weaken claims like this?

  • it makes claims easier to defend
  • it makes your writing appear less subjective and more objective
  • it shows that you are confidently uncertain. 
  • it sends a message to your reader that you might be wrong, and you welcome feedback and corrections

When you’re reading journal articles, look for other strategies writers use to weaken (or strengthen) claims.

@eapguru

 

‘One of’ or ‘a’?

😦 Euthanasia may be one of ways to deliver health resources fairly to people who still want to live.

flag-of-indonesia This is a direct translation from Bahasa Indonesia: ‘salah satu’.

For every noun in English it is important to communicate one of three meanings:

In the opening example the writer communicated successfully. However, the sentence is gramatically incorrect. If you really must use ‘one of’ then you need more grammar:

  • Euthanasia may be one of several ways to deliver.. (‘several’ behaves like ‘many’)
  • Euthanasia may be one of the best ways to deliver.. (‘one of’ + the + superlative adjective + plural count noun)

You can see how easy it can be to introduce grammatical error, or to choose the wrong word to follow ‘one of’! A much easier and far more common way to communicate ‘one of many’ is using the indefinite article ‘a’ (or ‘an’) – NOT ‘one of’.

Want to communicate one of manyUse the indefinite article:

🙂 Euthanasia may be a way to deliver health resources fairly to people who still want to live.

For more examples of article use, click the articles tag.

@eapguru

A refreshing refreshment

😦 Students can take a break while they are studying in college for refreshing.

flag-of-indonesia 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)

Refresh

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).

Further study

Check out these other examples of ‘refreshing’.

 

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Blah changed, resulting in blah!

😦 Sales increased dramatically reached 2,000 in July.

So, this is obviously bad grammar because there are 2 verbs in the same clause: increased and reached. There are three possible corrections:

1. Separate sentences

The easiest solution would be to put verbs increased and reached into separate sentences:

🙂 Sales increased dramatically. They reached 2,000 in July.

2. Conjunction

Another approach would be to use comma + conjunction (‘and’) to join two clauses together:

🙂 Sales increased dramatically, and reached 2,000 in July.

3. Comma + __ing

A third solution is to use comma + ___ing.

🙂 Sales increased dramatically, reaching 2,000 in July.

This last example is little used by lower level IELTS candidates but very common in native speaker speaking and writing, particularly when describing statistical changes over time. It’s especially useful when you want to include the result of a series of changes:

Sales increased dramatically but then remained steady, finishing at 10,000 at the end of the period.

Ultimately you want to aim for variety in your grammar, and so aim to use a mix of all three structures in your writing.

Fancy a challenge?

Take a look at the highlighted area of the graph below. Can you describe what’s happening using the three structures that I have demonstrated? Answers in the comments box below!

comma __ing exercise

 

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Parallel structures and IELTS

😦 Modern art and music can cause conflicts in existing cultural values and can cause misinterpretation or even losing their originality in cultural identity.

If you want to pack a list of items into one sentence, then these items need to be ‘parallel’. What do I mean by items and what do I mean by parallel?

  • Items are usually noun phrases or verb phrases, although they are sometimes preposition phrases.
  • Parallel means that all of the items are the same type – all nouns, all verb phrases, etc.

Parallel nouns

Our opening example could be written using noun phrases only:

🙂 Modern art and music can cause conflicts in existing cultural values, misinterpretation, or even loss of originality in cultural identity.

..in which we have one verb – cause – and three nouns separated by commas:

  • conflicts in existing cultural values
  • misinterpretation
  • loss of originality in cultural identity

(Notice that the final noun is preceded by or even as a substitute for and.)

Parallel verbs

Alternatively the sentence could be written using verb phrases only, again separated by commas:

🙂 Modern art and music can cause conflicts in existing cultural values, lead to  misinterpretation, or even result in loss of originality in cultural identity.

Parallelism and IELTS

Accurate parallel structures can help to increase your IELTS score for GRA (they’re ‘structural’), LR (noun phrases are probably the most common item), and CC (non-parallel structures are difficult to understand).

Ha! There – I just used a parallel structure built from nouns (GRA, LR, CC)!

@eapguru