Due to bad grammar!

This problem occurs due to people throw waste into the irrigation system.

Ok well it’s nice to use an alternative to because, but a change of cause effect signal can often mean a change of grammar.

Because

The grammar for because is familiar to most people:

Prices increased because demand increased.

In this structure, Prices increased is an independent clause (= it can stand alone as a sentence), and demand increased is also an independent clause.

We could also think of this structure as:

because + cause sentence

Due to

The grammar for due to is slightly different:

Prices increased due to an increase in demand.

In this case Prices increased is an independent clause, while an increase in demand is a noun (or noun phrase).

Again, this structure could also be thought of as:

due to + cause noun

Because of

Indonesian flag A common error is to treat because of in the same way as because. For example it is incorrect to say:

Prices increased because of demand increased.

Because of follows the same structure as due to:

Prices increased because of an increase in demand.

Review

So, let’s review these three cause effect signals:

  • Prices increased because demand increased. (because + cause sentence)
  • Prices increased because of an increase in demand. (because of + cause noun)
  • Prices increased due to an increase in demand. (due to + cause noun)

And if we apply these to our opening example then we get:

  • This problem occurs because people throw waste into the irrigation system.
  • This problem occurs because of the irresponsible behaviour of people who throw waste into the irrigation system.
  • This problem occurs due to the irresponsible behaviour of people who throw waste into the irrigation system.

Using a combination of these in your IELTS speaking and writing will help to increase your scores in all criteria.

To be or to do? Gapfill!

The behaviours of ‘western’ and Indonesian businessmen eloquently discussed by George B. Whitfield, III.

  • What advice would you give to foreign businessmen in Indonesia?!
  • Is there a right and a wrong way for them to behave?
  • Have you ever witnessed any ‘wrong’ behaviour? Comments below!

Fill in the gaps with words and phrases from the box. Then click ‘Check your answers!’ for feedback. (There are more words and phrases in the list than there are gaps!)

If you agree or disagree with any of the claims made by the writer, add a comment and let’s discuss! Continue reading

Why do we hate grammar? Heading matching!

There has been much debate about how grammar should be taught and what age is the best age to study it. Before reading the text, consider these questions:

  • Did you study grammar in school, and if so, did you enjoy it?
  • How old were you when you first studied grammar?
  • Do you think that was a good age to start?
  • Is it better to study grammar separately from reading or just acquire it through listening and reading?

Now read the text and select suitable headings for each paragraph. Click ‘check your headings’ for feedback! If there are any ideas in the text that you agree or disagree with, add a comment and let’s discuss! Continue reading

IELTS Listening – credit card numbers

(For more IELTS Listening Section 1 spelling practice, try these names and postcodes!)

Credit card numbers come in a predictable format – four groups of four digits, for example:

4567 5678 6789 7890

Zero‘ can also be read ‘oh‘, and sequences of the same digit can be read as ‘double‘, ‘triple‘, etc.

See if you can ‘spell’ these credit card numbers: Continue reading

IELTS Listening – spelling postcodes

(For more IELTS Listening Section 1 spelling practice, try these names and credit cards!)

Postcodes can be problematic in IELTS Listening Section 1. However, if you are aware of the predictable formats of postcodes then recognising them becomes easier. UK postcodes all fit the following pattern:

UK poatcodes

So that’s: one or two letters + a number + another number + one or two letters

And remember that the number ‘zero’ can also be read ‘oh’!

See if you can ‘spell’ these postcodes: Continue reading

Reconstructing consumerism with Skidelsky

  1. Think about – or better still, chat to a friend – about consumerism. Why do we love shopping so much? (Indonesian flag Indonesians check out the difference between consumeristic and consumptive!)
  2. Watch the video and listen to what Robert Skidelsky has to say about consumerism.
  3. Then attempt to reconstruct what Skidelsky says using the app below. Watch the video again if necessary!

Continue reading

Men and women and work

This article from the Economist includes some nice vocabulary and structures for IELTS Task 1 writing. Click linked words and phrases for more information or head directly to the analysis below.

Women in England and Wales are having 1.9 children on average, fewer than their mothers who had 2.2 offspring, according to the Office for National Statistics. That’s a small decrease but the lowest level on record and continues the downward trend of the past few years. The decline is in part due to a growing number of women not having children, with one-fifth now childless. There has also been a fall in the number of teenage pregnancies. About 6% of women have a baby before their 20th birthday, again continuing a long-term downward trend. But “it’s not just childlessness,” said Emily Knipe of the Office for National Statistics. More and more women are having fewer babies. The data showed about one in 10 mothers today having four or more children, compared with one in eight of their mothers’ generation.
role reversal
Women are also having babies later. By their 30th birthdays, women today are likely to have had one child. Their mothers were likely to have had 1.8. The ONS suggested this is because more women are going into higher education and are also delaying finding a partner. Ms Knipe said: “It’s not just a biological factor of people leaving it too late. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests people are choosing not to have children.”

Analysis

Trends

Indonesian flag The word ‘trend‘ is only used once, and even then it is used together with ‘downward‘! See this post for further discussion of ‘trend‘.

Although is used to contrast two trends at the same time. This is a good thing to do, if you can, in your IELTS Task 1 overview.

Indonesian flag Indonesians notice the contrasted items are separated with a comma without ‘but’ (akan tetapi).

  • Although female-dominated industries have suffered fewer job losses from globalisation and technological change, they also pay less.

Referencing and substitution

One way to avoid repetition in your writing is to refer to nouns using referencing words as substitutes (it, they, this, those, etc). using these will improve your score for coherence and cohesion (CC). Examples here include:
  • This form of segregation.. (= men and women pursue different lines of work)
  • ..those that have long employed women.. (those = ‘the fastest growing industries in America)
  • This does not mean.. (This = slow growth of sectors dominated by men)
  • ..they also pay less. (they = slow growth of sectors dominated by men)
  • ..the figure (= % of American doctors and lawyers who are women)
  • ..this process takes time (= changing male and female roles in the workplace)
  • At this rate.. (= the rate at which full gender equality is to be achieved)
Indonesian flag Notice that the pronoun ‘it’ is not used at all as a substitute! Read this post to find out why.

Vocabulary (Lexical Resource)

In IELTS terms there is some high-band vocabulary and interesting collocation:
  • pursue (v) + lines of work (n)
  • segregation (n) – in this case male / female
  • better off (adj) – comparative form of well-off (wealthy)
  • capture (v) + jobs (n)
  • mere (adj) – to emphasise a low figure
  • gender (adj) + parity (n) – sophisticated synonym for gender equality
  • the field – the work field (Make sure you establish a context before reducing a phrase like this!)

Tenses

Present simple is used for situations that are true all the time:
  • Men and women often pursue different lines of work.
  • etc.
Present perfect is used to talk about trends that began in the past and are still happening now:
  • ..many sectors…have grown much more slowly..
  • etc.
Will is used for prediction:
  • ..the field will not achieve gender parity for another 200 years.

Percentages

When a percentage is mentioned for the first time it is always followed by of + the whole. If you’re not sure what is meant by the whole, I suggest you read this.
  • In the 1960s, less than 10% of American doctors and lawyers were women.
  • Today over 60% of chefs and cooks are men.
  • ..a mere 10% of all nursing jobs.
If you’re preparing for IELTS Task 1, I strongly recommend that you read my other posts that deal with percentages.

Structures

The writer uses a participle clause to add information about a trend. In IELTS Task 1 this structure – comma + __ing – is often used to present the result(s) of a trend. For more information, see this post.
  • Today, women graduate from university at higher rates than men, putting them in a stronger position for many well-paid professional jobs that were once male-dominated.