Having the right to rights

The principle of the social services is that people have rights to live happily and without discrimination.

I know, I know. You mention more than one right. Normally your teacher would be yelling at you to add an ‘s’. But this is a vocabulary/collocation issue.

  • The principle of the social services is that people have the right to live happily and without discrimination.

Indonesian flag You can think of it as a phrasal verb (Indonesians will be translating berhak untuk..). Sometimes it’s have the right to + V1. Sometimes have a right to + V1. 

Try googling “have the right to” and then “have rights to”. Which is more common? Which is the meaning that you want?

The tunnel passed by the sperm?!

The fallopian tube is a tunnel which will be passed by the sperm on its way to the egg.

This  might be possible if all the sperm does is pass by the entrance to the tunnel without actually entering it. But then it won’t be on its way to the egg, it will be on its way somewhere else!

If you want to say that the sperm enters the tunnel, travels along it and then meets the egg, you need to use a preposition that carries that meaning:

  • The fallopian tube is a tunnel which the sperm passes through on its way to the egg.

Compare these situations:

tunnel

  • A > B: The sperm passes through the tunnel.
  • C > D: The tunnel is passed by the sperm.
  • D > E: The tunnel is passed by the sperm.

Indonesian flag Indonesians take care when you’re translating melalui, melintasi, menyebrangi, and melewati.

Age in Task 1 Writing

People in the 14-17 group of age were most affected by the changes.

I know, this seems to make sense, and your meaning is clear, but if you want a high score for vocabulary you need to use better collocation inside your noun phrases:

  • People in the 14-17 age group were most affected by the changes.

The following are all possible. Unfortunately you just have to memorise them. Try to use them as soon as possible in your writing practice and soon they will become automatic.

  • a person who is 49 years of age
  • a person who is 49 years old
  • a person who is 49
  • a 49 year-old person
  • a 49 year-old

More often in IELTS, ‘person’ is plural (= ‘people’), and so these noun phrases are also possible:

  • 49 year-olds
  • 49 year-old people
  • people in the 50-60 age group
  • people aged between 50 and 60
  • people aged 50-60
  • people (who are) 50-60 years old

Of course we could be more specific about ‘person’ or ‘people’:

  • A 49 year-old English teacher
  • English teachers in the 49-59 age group

In the second process(?!)

In the second process, the sperm enters the egg, and the zygote is formed.

It’s difficult to imagine more than one process here. I think you mean:

  • In the second stage of the process, the sperm enters the egg, and the zygote is formed.

In English a process can occasionally be broken down into sub-processes, but normally we talk about these as stages. Indonesians often make the same mistake with menu and items on a menu:

  • The second menu is ayam lalapan.
  • The second item on the menu is ayam lalapan.

Such as this and that

There are many factors that can contribute to failure such as students do not manage their time well, or they are just lazy.

In this example, such as is followed by independent clauses whereas it should be followed by noun phrases:

  • There are many factors that can cause students to fail such as bad time management, or just laziness.

If you really want verb phrases, then use for example:

  • There are many factors that can contribute to failure, for example students do not manage their time well, or they are just lazy.

(Remember to put a comma before for example!)

Notice that for example is a more flexible signal as it can be used to introduce either a noun or a verb phrase. In the next example it is used to introduce nouns.

  • There are many factors that can contribute to failure, for example financial pressure and physical injury.

Not that sector, this one!

Agricultural sector is different from economic sector in the way research is conducted.

Indonesian flag First of all in English we tend not to label nouns as much as you do in Bahasa Indonesia. An easy example is colours. In English when we mention colours, it isn’t necessary to use the word ‘colour’:

  • Saya suka warna merah.
  • I like blue.

Therefore our opening example could easily be written:

  • Agriculture is different from economics in the way research is conducted.

However, if you must use the word ‘sector’, and if you are talking about specific sectors, then you need to communicate this one exactly:

  • The agricultural sector is different from the economic sector in the way research is conducted.

If you do not use ‘the’ when you mean this one exactly then you will receive a low score in IELTS for grammar and for coherence and cohesion. If you do not use ‘the’ when you mean this one exactly then your reader will stop reading and think “Does he mean this one exactly, or does he mean one of many, or does he mean all of them everywhere?” You must communicate one of these meanings if you want to be understood clearly.

If you want to communicate one of many then you need to use ‘a’:

  • Agriculture is a sector that requires different research approaches.
    (This implies that, in addition to agriculture, there are other sectors, like education, which also require different research approaches.)

If you want to communicate all of them everywhere then you need to use ‘s’:

  • Government sectors include health, education, agriculture and economics.

Having an impact on someone

Passive smoking brings negative impact for people who do not smoke.

Indonesian flag This is a collocation problem for Indonesians translating “..membawa dampak negatif untuk..”

In English the collocation is:

  • Passive smoking has a negative impact on people who do not smoke.

Note! s.th./s.o. has + an impact + on + s.th./s.o. 

Using the correct collocation will have a very positive impact on your IELTS score for vocabulary in both speaking and writing!

You can listen to a song featuring ‘impact’ here.

photo credit

Raise the issue

The growth of cashless payments has raised the debatable issue whether this payment method is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Raise the issue
One problem here is that the issue is the growth of cashless payments, while one aspect of the issue is whether or not it is useful. Another problem is that an issue is normally raised by someone

It would be better to begin with someone raising the issue, and then focus on a specific aspect of the issue:

  • In a recent meeting the prime minister raised the issue of the growth of cashless payments. We discussed whether this payment method is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Note this structure: raise the issue + of + [name of issue]

Alternatively you might avoid doing any raising of issues and stick to more standard cause / effect:

  • The growth of cashless payments has caused much debate about whether this payment method is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Whatever you decide, note that in English raise collocates strongly with issue. Otherwise it goes together with things like ‘your hand’, ‘the Titanic’ and other items that need to be lifted from a lower position to a higher position. If this is not the meaning of raise that you are trying to communicate then your IELTS score for writing and speaking may go down, rather like the Titanic!

(The) Government(s)

Government must work hard to tackle the problem of inflation.

There are more communicative uses of the word government:

  1. Government (without ‘the’, without ‘s’)
  2. Governments (with ‘s’)
  3. The government (with ‘the’, without ‘s’)

1. Government (without ‘the’, without ‘s’)

Here you are talking about the abstract concept of government, which means the phenomenon whereby an elected minority govern the majority:

  • Government is a potentially effective tool to tackle the problem of unemployment.

2. Governments (without ‘the’, with ‘s’)

Here you are talking about all governments, in all countries, everywhere:

  • Governments must work hard to tackle the problem of inflation if they want to be competitive in the global market.

3. The government (with ‘the’, without ‘s’)

Here you are usually talking about your government, although you may be talking about a different but specific government that you have already mentioned elsewhere in your text:

  • The government must work hard to tackle the problem of inflation in Indonesia.

Indonesian flag Note to Indonesians..
Next time you want to translate pemerintah, consider which of these three meanings you want to communicate. If you choose the right one, your meaning will be clear and you will receive a high score for vocabulary (Lexical resource – LR) and a high score for coherence and cohesion (CC),  because it will be easier to understand what you are saying or writing.

Browse the IELTS public band descriptors.

The key to ‘_ing'(?!)

Conserving a language is the key to fully grasp the identity of a culture.

Let’s look functionally at what we are trying to communicate in this sentence:

[…something A…] is the key to [..something B..].

OK. So something A is obviously a thing or a behaviour that will help us to achieve something B, which is a thing or a behaviour that is difficult to achieve without something A. If something B is a thing, then it is a noun and not a verb, so we need the noun form of grasp, which is grasping:

  • Conserving a language is the key to fully grasping the identity of a culture.

For some reason the expressions the key to and the answer to often lead to this error, so watch out for those! In this structure, ‘to’ is a preposition and not part of the infinitive ‘to + V1’.