Articles and/or ‘s’

WARNING to lazy students! This post includes tricky grammar rules and there’s a challenging practice activity for you to try at the end!

Articles and nouns

For every noun you speak or write, you need to use grammar to communicate one of the meanings in the ‘meaning’ column in the table below. Continue reading

Making people able with ‘enable’

Easy access to shops online makes buyers can visit many stores without leaving their homes.

This collocation – make (v) / can (modal) – is possible in Bahasa Indonesia, but not in English. These are your options in English:

  1. Easy access to shops online enables buyers to visit many stores without leaving their homes.
    [enable + s.o./s.th. + to + V1]
  2. Easy access to shops online makes it possible for buyers to visit many stores without leaving their homes.
    [make it possible for + s.o./s.th. + to + V1]
  3. Online shops are easy to access, and so buyers are able to visit many stores without leaving their homes.
    [to be + able + to + V1]

Practice!

We could use the same language to talk about the benefits – or the enabling effects – of a wide range of technologies. Comments below!

‘Compared to’ instead of ‘rather than’

Cities offer larger salaries to people rather than small towns.

Here the comparison is between ‘salaries’ and ‘small towns’. The writer is saying that cities offer people large salaries and do not offer them small towns. Hmm. I would be quite happy if someone gave me a small town!

If we want to compare the salaries offered by cities with the salaries offered by small towns, then we need:

  • Cities offer larger salaries compared to small towns.
    (= salaries in cities vs. salaries in small towns)

And if you really must use rather than, then you could also write:

  • Cities offer larger salaries rather than smaller salaries.
    (= larger salaries vs. smaller salaries)

Most of the time instead of is synonymous with rather than:

  • Cities offer larger salaries instead of smaller salaries.

However, instead of is quite often a replacement for something that came before:

  • City companies now use electronic transfer instead of cash payment for salaries.

Next time make sure you’re comparing what you mean to compare!

Commoners turn from opera to Oprah!

Common people watch television every night for six hours.

I don’t think the writer intended to be so negative, or worse – insulting! Let’s explore the meaning of common, first of all by looking inside an opera house.

Opera house
Seating inside a typical opera house

Some seats in opera houses have always been more expensive than others. The cheapest seats are in ‘The Stalls’ or in ‘The Gods’, because in these areas the view of the stage is limited. Wealthier people can afford to pay for a private ‘box’, and they get a better view. The best view, meanwhile, is from the ‘Royal Box’. Continue reading

Recounting Rainy Rugby

In this post we practice the recount genre. This is a very common generic text form in IELTS Speaking Part 2, when you are asked to recount some kind of experience.

In this example the candidate might have been asked to describe a time when they experienced very bad weather. If you’ve experienced bad weather, why not tell us about it in the comments below?

Fill in the gaps with the correct forms of the verbs in brackets. then click ‘Check your answers!’. Continue reading