Academic writers make frequent use of ‘hedges’ – phrases that change the strength of their claims so as to make them more acceptable to other academics. A claim can be made stronger or weaker by adding adjectives and adverbs, by changing verbs, or by adding lengthy ‘hedging’ phrases.
The activity below includes 10 sentences that feature hedging. Try to reconstruct them and see if you can identify which words and phrases constitute ‘hedging’!
(Answer key below!) Continue reading
Examiner: How often do you go to the cinema?
Candidate: Er.. Sometimes.
Examiner: Yes, but how often?
Although it is grammatically correct to respond to the question ‘How often?’ with ‘sometimes’, you still haven’t answered the question. Always try to give more information no matter how infrequently you do something. Continue reading
I have one wife, one child, one cat and one dog.
In the IELTS speaking test candidates often mention their families when talking about their homes. Sometimes they do this to justify only having a small home, or maybe they want to explain why they chose live in a particular area.
But in any situation when you offer information about your family, your listener will make certain assumptions, in particular about numbers, and if the number is one then this is often best communicated without using the word ‘one’. Continue reading
The involvement of government in indigenous governance has arisen a variety of arguments.
Here there is a vocabulary problem AND a grammar problem!
First the grammar problem..
In other languages ( ‘memunculkan’) the verb ‘arise’ can be transitive (can take an object), but in English it cannot. However, there do exist alternatives that allow you to keep the object (obj – ‘a variety of arguments’): Continue reading
People use papers for a variety of purposes.
OK folks, this is another countable / uncountable problem.
Paper – countable
Every time I use the countable form of ‘paper’, I’m talking about paper material that has already been modified in some way and applied for a primary function. Continue reading
Tissue demands for housing and offices are increasing.
OK so there are two kinds of demand – specific and general. Continue reading
40% of people living with HIV have risk to develop tuberculosis.
Yes. ‘Risk’ can be a ‘risky’ word in English!
We can assume that if there’s a risk, then there is some kind of ‘bad thing’ causing the risk, for example ‘developing tuberculosis’. Continue reading
Recently in class Chomsky’s name came up in discussion as the most widely cited author, but not many students knew his name or why he is so well-known.
The following video outlines Chomsky’s ground-breaking theory of language.
Before you watch the video, discuss with a friend the following questions.
- What makes human language different from animal language?
- Is language learned, or are we born with it?
- How is it possible that small children learn languages so quickly?
Watch the video and then attempt the text reconstruction activity at the bottom of the page.
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.
- 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:
If it’s an indoor market then it’s usually inside a large hall:
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).
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!
Every people can access their own social media account with the touch of a finger.
This is partly forgivable. We know that millions of people (= millions of fingers) use social media, and this writer is making a statement that applies to all of these people. However, there is some faulty grammar: Continue reading