Market(s) and ‘the market’

It is important to test products on animals before releasing them commercially to markets.

The problem here is that there are two kinds of market – physical and virtual – and in this example, markets (plural) suggests more than one physical market, while releasing them commercially suggests more than one virtual market. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Physical market(s)

  • The crowd around the market were given free water.
  • The town centre markets were also discussed briefly.
  • A big favourite at local farmers’ markets.

These are the places you go early in the morning to buy cheap vegetables. Often this kind of market is outdoor:

Outdoor market
If it’s an indoor market then it’s usually inside a large hall:

Indoor market

Virtual market(s)

The featured image for this post shows people buying and selling things on the virtual market. They’re not buying anything inside that building, rather they are investing in things that are located elsewhere so that they can hopefully receive some of the profits from the sale of those things.

A particular virtual market or set of virtual markets may be mentioned explicitly:

  • Funding costs rose amid renewed volatility in financial markets.

Sometimes more than one virtual market is implied:

  • New products are constantly appearing on the market. (different products sold in different locations)

And sometimes a specific virtual market is implied but not mentioned explicitly:

  • The property hit the market last week. (= the housing market)

Market(s) and collocation

If the name of a virtual market is not given, certain phrases can suggest that you’re talking about a virtual rather than a physical market.

  • We put our house on the market last week.
  • Anybody from anywhere can buy our house!
  • The 1990 model is no longer on the market.
  • It’s no longer available anywhere.
  • The property hit the market last week.
  • The property did not physically ‘hit’ a physical market building, rather it became available for purchase.

If it’s on the market (one or more virtual markets), it’s not at the market (a single physical market).

Conclusion

Our opening example implies a set of virtual markets that are not explicitly mentioned, and so we need:

  • It is important to test products on animals before releasing them commercially to the market.
  • More than one virtual market is implied (e.g. cosmetics, medicines, food products) but not mentioned explicitly!

Not ‘easy to be found’!

News from online media is easy to be found.

With easy and difficult you need active verbs:

  • News from online media is easy to find.
  • It is more difficult to find news from traditional sources.

..and with a different verb:

  • News online still has a negative side because it is not always easy to be verified.
  • News online still has a negative side because it is not always easy to verify.

So, that was easy to fix! (NOT ‘to be fixed’!)

Complete with ‘with’

Mobile phones are completed by advanced features.

Completed by

OK let’s look at some examples of ‘completed by’:

  • The questionnaires are completed by women aged 15–49.
  • A complete site overhaul was completed by our editorial staff.
  • The detailed project report has been completed by the consultants.

In all three examples we have to be + completed by + agent (the person doing the completing). In our opening example that would make ‘advanced features’ the agent, which is of course impossible. Continue reading

Have you tried present perfect recently?

Social media are the most common media to be used to share information recently.

This looks like as though it might function as the opening sentence of an IELTS Task 2 essay. Let’s first of all remind ourselves about some ideal features for the IELTS Task 2 opening sentence:

  1. We’re introducing the topic as stated on the IELTS question paper.
  2. We’re thinking about our reader and what might be interesting to him / her. (Our reader is an educated non-specialist, someone quite educated who reads a lot and knows what’s happening in the world.)
  3. We’re relating the topic to a current situation or event, because current situations or events are automatically interesting.
  4. We’re relating the topic to a local context, because that’s also interesting to our reader, and because we know more about local than about distant contexts.

Hmm, even without seeing the question paper we can see that our writer has generally ticked these boxes. Now let’s focus on the word recently. That’s a good word to use as it helps to tick box number 3 – it helps us to focus on a current feature of the topic. It’s important to understand, however, that current is communicated in various ways and we have to choose time expressions and matching tenses carefully.

Current = now

  • Social media are the most common media to be used to share information.
  • Social media are today the most common media to be used to share information.
  • These days social media are the most common media to be used to share information.

All present simple tense.
Notice that present simple tense can mean ‘now’, and so you don’t have to use a time expression.

Current = around now

  • Social media are becoming the most common media to be used to share information.
  • Social media are today becoming the most common media to be used to share information.
  • These days social media are becoming the most common media to be used to share information.

All present continuous tense.
Notice that present continuous tense can mean ‘around now’, and so you don’t have to use a time expression.
Notice also that ‘to be ‘ cannot be continuous. In this case it is easy to use ‘become’ in the continuous, but only if you feel the situation is changing over time.

Current = up to and including now

  • Social media have become the most common media to be used to share information.
  • Social media have become the most common media to be used to share information recently.
  • Social media have recently become the most common media to be used to share information.

All present perfect tense.
Notice that present perfect tense means ‘up to and including now’, and so you don’t have to use a time expression.
‘Recently’ is a strong ‘present perfect’ time expression and if you don’t believe me, browse over and check out countless other examples at forbetterenglish.com.

Conclusion

Returning to our opening example, clearly our writer wants to communicate either ‘now’ or ‘around now’, and so ‘recently’ is not the best time expression! My advice would be to use present simple + ‘today’:

  • Social media are today the most common media to be used to share information.