Some of us

For your entertainment! A song featuring the amazing Moya (L) and Dita (R). For those of us who are still not sure about some / some of, most / most of, etc!

Some of us work
Most of us play
All of us pray for success one day

None of us read
Some of us write
Some of us dance ’til the morning light

Some students like to stay out all night
Most teachers tell them that isn’t right
All study time their eyes are shut tight
How will they ever succeed?

Some of us smoke
Some of us drink
Few of us know how to write with ink

Some of us seek
Some of us find
None of us want to be left behind

Some students like to stay out all night
Most teachers tell them that isn’t right
All study time their eyes are shut tight
How will they ever succeed?

Reading’s boring; We end up snoring;
So many pages; But zero drawings
We only study; When there’s a test to take; Big mistake!

Some students like to stay out all night
Most teachers tell them that isn’t right
All study time their eyes are shut tight
So ineffectual; Unintellectual;
How will they ever succeed?

Enjoy!

@guruEAP

More than one ‘most’!

Over-grazing is one of the most significant factor in environmental land degradation.

I know what you’re thinking – one means singular. Well, true, but that’s ‘over-grazing’ – even though it’s uncountable, the subject ‘over-grazing’ is a single thing. In this structure, one of + superlative adjective is telling us about ‘factors’, not about ‘over-grazing’.

I know what else you’re thinking – surely there is only one most?! Well, not always! When it comes to land degradation there is more than one ‘most significant factor’. For example, ‘deforestation’ is another ‘most significant factor’, and so ‘factor’ needs to be plural:

Over-grazing is one of the most significant factors in environmental land degradation.

Repeat after me..

one of + superlative + plural countable noun
one of + superlative + plural countable noun
one of + superlative + plural countable noun
one of + superlative + plural countable noun
one of + superlative + plural countable noun
(repeat until you get tired..)

More examples using ‘most’ here.

Remember to be passive

As the tap handle rotated the spindle moves up inside the tap body.

flag-of-indonesia Bahasa Indonesia has a special construction for passives – ‘di‘ + verb: diputar. Maybe that’s why Indonesians writing in English find it easy to produce the passive form of the verb, adding ‘ed‘ to regular verbs as a substitute for their own ‘di‘. However they often forget to include ‘to be’ in the English passive structure:

  • As the tap handle is rotated the spindle moves up inside the tap body.

If you want a good score for GRA in IELTS writing, don’t forget ‘to be’ in passives. Here’s a little rhyme to aid memory:

  • to be + V3, the English form of ‘Di’, to be + V3, the English form of ‘Di’!

‘One of’ or ‘a’?

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

flag-of-indonesia 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.

It is called as ‘bad grammar’

People call this as the ‘big data era’.

flag-of-indonesia 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’.

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

Ask the menu!

menu couple 450
Non-native speakers having dinner!

flag-of-indonesia 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!

menu talk 300
Most menus cannot answer questions!

flag-of-indonesia 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

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!

@guruEAP

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)!

When should I use ‘have to’?

I’m sorry I’m late. My wife is sick and so this morning I should take my son to school. And I’m sorry but I should leave early today to take him home.

OK so this is an Indonesian student over-translating ‘harus’ as ‘should’. Actually there are situations when we have to use ‘have to’ instead of ‘should’. Take a look at the following examples and try the exercises that follow.

As a teacher I have to [1] get up early on work days because I have to [2] be in class at 8 o’clock. I drive to work, although I should [3] probably use a motorcycle, which is faster and more convenient in Bali.

When I was a musician I didn’t have to [4] get up early. On the other hand I had to [5] be on stage most evenings at 8 o’clock. I had to [6] drive to gigs because I had to [7] carry many drums. I know what you’re thinking – I should’ve [8] chosen a smaller instrument like the violin. Yes, but then I would have had to [9] play the violin!

Discussion

  1. In which situations do/did/would I have a choice?
  2. In which situations do/did/would I NOT have a choice?

Complete the rule:

In the present:

  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when it is a good idea to do something, but we have a choice. (We probably don’t do it!)
  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when we have NO choice. (We do it, even if we don’t want to!)

In the past:

  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when it would have been a good idea to do something, but we didn’t do it, even though we had a choice.
  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when we had NO choice. (We did it, even if we didn’t want to!)

(scroll down for answers!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

  1. In which situations do/did/would I have a choice? [Answer: 1,2,4,5,6,7,9]
  2. In which situations do/did/would I NOT have a choice? [Answer: 3,8]

Complete the rule:

In the present:

  • we use should to talk about situations when it is a good idea to do something, but we have a choice. (We probably don’t do it!)
  • we use have to to talk about situations when we have NO choice. (We do it, even if we don’t want to!)

In the past:

  • we use should have + V3 to talk about situations when it would have been a good idea to do something, but we didn’t do it, even though we had a choice.
  • we use had to to talk about situations when we had NO choice. (We did it, even though we didn’t want to!)

When corrected, the opening example reads as follows:

🙂 I’m sorry I’m late. My wife is sick and so this morning I had to take my son to school. And I’m sorry but I have to leave early today to take him home.

Hope that helps!