Fall down over

When demand is low, prices usually fall down.

This is a common error when describing trends in graphs in IELTS task 1 writing. It makes sense, intuitively – if something ‘falls’ then it falls down and not up! However, ‘fall’ and ‘fall down’ can have quite different meanings depending on the context.

Take a look at these examples.

Fall

  • Real incomes actually fell in many places.
  • The deer fell immediately and never moved again.
  • The squad fired and both men fell.
  • Just about anything or anyone can fall, either accidentally or predictably. This is a good word to use when describing trends in IELTS Task 1 Writing! In fact, this is what we need with our opening example:
  • When demand is low, prices usually fall.

Fall down

  • He fell down from his horse and died immediately.
  • It’s better to wear a belt so that your trousers don’t fall down.
  • Both of these examples highlight ‘accidents’ in which someone or something falls down from a higher position to a lower position.

fall down

fall down

Fall over

  • Houses rocked and cracked; furniture fell over.
  • I actually fell over the bed when entering the room.
  • These are also ‘accidents’, but this time a person or thing falls over from its normal standing position into an abnormal position on the floor or on the ground.

fall over

fall over

Throw food (away)

Since there are many starving people in the world, it is better not to throw food.

The featured image for this post shows a man retrieving a pizza from a roof. This is how it got there:

Throwing pizza

Obviously the man doesn’t want to eat the pizza. However, most people in that situation would either give it someone else or throw it away:

Pizza in bin

So that’s two different ways to get rid of a pizza in English, each using a slightly different verb:

  1. If I throw food I send it flying through the air, often without too much thought for where it’s going to land.
  2. A straightforward verb – throw (Indonesian flag lempar).
  1. If I throw food away, I dispose of it in a place designed for waste collection – a dustbin, for example.
  2. A phrasal verb that includes a preposition – throw away (Indonesian flag buang). As with many phrasal verbs, the preposition can move, and so I can throw away food, or I can throw food away

If you’re talking about people starving in the world, it’s more normal to use the second of these meanings!

  • Since there are many starving people in the world, it is better not to throw away food.

The art of which?

The arts perhaps bring balance and harmony which the arts are not just what you see but what you make others see.

This is potentially sophisticated. You need:

  • The arts perhaps bring balance and harmony in which the arts are not just what you see but what you make others see.

OK, so what’s happening here? Well we have..

independent clause in which independent clause
The arts perhaps bring balance and harmony in which the arts are not just what you see but what you make others see.

But notice that the second independent clause describes the thing mentioned in the rheme of the first independent clause (balance and harmony).

Actually you can also use according to which:

  • The arts perhaps bring balance and harmony according to which the arts are not just what you see but what you make others see.

Hmm OK so let me see if I can create my own example following the same 3 elements. (Just let me roll up my sleeves. Ahem.) OK here goes..

  • Language acquisition is a gradual process in which students struggle to master the grammatical and phonological rules of a new language.
  • Language acquisition is a gradual process according to which students struggle to master the grammatical and phonological rules of a new language.

OK. Now your turn! Comments below this post, please!

Abstract and concrete spending

Helping developing nations can spend much money.

If I want to spend money, I basically have two options:

  1. Give someone some cash in return for goods or services.
  2. Transfer some money electronically in return for goods and services.

I can do either of these things because I can use my hands to handle cash or to operate electronic gadgets.

The problem with our opening example is that the thing doing the spending – helping developed nations – does not have hands, and therefore cannot ‘spend’ anything.

What our writer means is:

  • Helping developing nations can be expensive.
  • Helping developing nations can cost a lot of money.
  • = Someone has to spend a lot of money.

Indonesian flag In Bahasa Indonesia, the same verb is used for people getting rid of many and for things getting rid of money – menghabiskan uang. Sorry guys, in English only people can spend money!

Giving to people for a purpose

In recent times, the obligation of developed nations to give aid for developing nations has been widely discussed.

This grammar item is handled differently by different languages. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Several highly independent intelligence operations were given to him.
  • Eventually they gave the house to their eldest son.
  • Don’t give it to them! They’ll waste it.
  • In these examples, give..to is followed by a person or group. (Indonesian flag kepada)

So, ‘to’ + person or people. What about ‘for’?

  • Cool, huh?! My parents gave it to me for my birthday.
  • I normally give a tip for good service, but this time I was disappointed.
  • Here give..for is followed by a purpose. (Indonesian flag untuk)

Now try this practice activity. Continue reading

Insisting on skirts!

Forward-thinking schools don’t insist their students to wear uniforms.

Ok I admit that there are some similar words that behave like this:

  • Forward-thinking schools don’t force their students to wear uniforms.
  • Forward-thinking schools don’t oblige their students to wear uniforms.
  • Forward-thinking schools don’t require their students to wear uniforms.
  • Meaning: schools want uniforms, students don’t.
    Structure: verb + someone + to + V1

Insist is unusual:

  • Forward-thinking schools don’t insist on uniforms for their students.
  • Meaning: schools want uniforms, students don’t.
    Structure: verb + on + something
  • Forward-thinking schools don’t insist that their students wear uniforms.
  • Meaning: schools want uniforms, students don’t.
    Structure: verb + that + independent clause

In the featured image for this post, boys who are not allowed to wear shorts at school are insisting that they should be allowed to wear skirts instead!

Take a look at these examples.

Interested in ‘interest’

Admittedly some people may not interests in the arts.

OK so ‘interest’ is potentially a problematic word.

Let’s say I’m one of those people who like the arts, I like attending arts events, and I like going to galleries, etc. In this case I can say any of the following:

  • I’m interested in the arts.
  • S.o. + (not) to be + interested in + s.th./s.o.
  • The arts interest me.
  • S.th./S.o. + (doesn’t) interest(s) + s.o.
  • I find the arts interesting.
  • S.o. + (doesn’t) find(s) + s.th./s.o. + interesting
  • The arts are interesting to me.
  • S.th./S.o. + (not) to be + interesting + to + s.o.

Returning to our original example, we need:

  • Admittedly some people may not be interested in the arts.
  • Admittedly some people may not find the arts interesting.
  • Admittedly the arts may not interest some people.
  • Admittedly the arts may not be interesting to some people.

Try this practice activity: Continue reading

Art and ‘the arts’

Investing in arts may help governments to overcome social problems.

There are generally only two options: art and the arts.

the arts
Art is usually painting and sculpture, but can include other things that you’re likely to see in an art gallery, such as photography, installations and happenings. (Indonesian flag ‘seni rupa’)

  • However art depicting supernatural subjects was very popular.
  • Iranian art has gone through numerous phases.
  • Very often art galleries are themselves works of art.

The arts are a wide variety of creative work that includes painting and sculpture, as well as music, dance, opera, theatre, ballet, and even literature. (Indonesian flag ‘kesenian’)

  • The arts is a broad subdivision of culture, composed of many expressive disciplines.
  • Appreciation of the arts is part of any education curriculum.

Governments usually support a wide range of creative activities – known as the arts – and there may even be a government department that is responsible for this. For example Arts Council England (formerly part of The Arts Council of Great Britain) funds an extremely wide range of arts activity that is certainly not limited to painting and sculpture.

Returning to our opening example, our writer surely means investment in all of the arts, not just the art that is displayed in an art gallery:

  • Investing in the arts may help governments to overcome social problems.

Notice that ‘arts’ (plural) always has ‘the’ as long as it is the main noun in a phrase. On the other hand if ‘arts’ is modifying another noun, you may or may not need ‘the’:

  • I’m a huge fan of the arts. (main noun: the arts)
  • I’m a serious arts fan. (main noun: fan)

Try this practice activity: Continue reading

Now listen to me!

Listening modern music, such as Jazz, for instance, might be useful to warm up the emotion part of the brain which can induce relaxation and reduce anxiety.

There is some sophisticated language here – except for the first word! Unfortunately there’s a difference in meaning between listen (without to) and listen to. Take a look at this short dialogue:

Mother (angry..) Johnny, are you listening?
Johnny What?
Mother Now listen to me. That’s very naughty. Don’t do it again!

Quite simply, if there’s an object – listen to me (‘me’, object) – then you need ‘to’:

  • Listening to modern music, such as Jazz, for instance, might be useful to warm up the emotion part of the brain which can induce relaxation and reduce anxiety.