‘One of’ or ‘a’?

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

Indonesian flag 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.

A refreshing refreshment

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

Indonesian flagThis 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’.

It is called as ‘bad grammar’

People call this as the ‘big data era’.

Indonesian flag 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:

  1. People call this the ‘big data era’. (active call without as)
  2. This era is called the ‘big data era’. (passive call without as)
  3. 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’.

Indonesian flag Indonesians.. Once again, be careful with sebagai! It collocates differently in English.

Ask the menu!

I’ll ask the menu!

menu couple

Non-native speakers having dinner!

Indonesian flag This is a common mistake made by Indonesians translating ‘tanya‘ instead of ‘minta‘.

The options in English are (take a deep breath!):

  1. I’ll ask the waiter. (ask someone)
  2. I’ll ask the waiter to bring us the menu. (ask someone to do something)
  3. I’ll ask the waiter about the menu. (ask someone about something/someone)
  4. I’ll ask the waiter for the menu. (ask someone for something)
  5. 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!

talking menu

Most menus cannot answer questions!

Indonesian flag 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!

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

Worthy (of) worth?

Taking a break between school and university is worthy of their time.

OK so here it would be better to write:

  • Taking a break between school and university is worth doing.

And so why, in this situation, is it better to write worth rather than worthy (of)?

Worth

Use worth when you want to evaluate a thing, person, or action:

  • Exercise is worth doing. (positive evaluation of ‘exercise’)
  • Smoking isn’t worth it! (negative evaluation of ‘smoking’)
  • That guy’s worth a million dollars. (positive financial evaluation)

This is particularly useful when you want to evaluate claims in IELTS Task 2 writing.

Worthy (of)

Use worthy (of) when you want to say that a thing, person or action deserves attention, effort, or respect. The key word here is deserve:

  • He’s not worthy. (= He doesn’t deserve our respect.)
  • Two incidents are worthy of mention here. (= Two incidents deserve our attention.)
  • The poem is worthy of deep reflection. (= The poem deserves our effort.)

Note that worthy (of) is now considered quite old fashioned. These days it is used more often to refer to people rather than things. The last two examples would now more likely be written:

  • Two incidents are worth mentioning here.
  • The poem is worth reflecting upon.

Unfortunately there are some grammar and collocation issues relating to the word worth. Lucky for you, these are described with examples in a previous post.

It’s depend

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!


Note

If you are not familiar with the conjugation of verbs (1st person, 2nd person, etc.), see here.

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)!