Alone, on my own, by myself

Sometimes I am a lonely person and I struggle by my own.

This is an understandable error since there are other, similar phrases, and it’s likely that the writer has got them muddled up. The following phrases are possible:

  • I live alone in a one-room apartment.
  • I live on my own now that my cat has died.
  • I live by myself in a hut on the beach.

The good news is that all three phrases can be used more or less interchangeably, without having to worry to much about context or collocation.

Best of luck with your lonely struggling!

Some alternatives to ‘some’

Unemployment has increased in recent years for some reasons.

Indonesian flag┬áIn this post,┬áIndonesian students of English will discover more appropriate ways to say ‘beberapa’ or berbagai’ in IELTS and in general academic writing.

First of all ‘for some reasons’ appears odd because there is a very similar lexical phrasefor some reason (reason without ‘s’) – meaning that there may be a reason but it is presently unknown. Clearly this is not what the writer intended in the opening example!

Secondly, there is a slightly different lexical phrase that is often used in this situation – for several reasons – meaning ‘there are several possible reasons’. Surely this is what the writer meant to communicate? Reasons are known and the writer is going to share them with us.

What better way to illustrate the alternatives than to see them in a text?

The workforce at DJ Computers has become smaller in recent years for several reasons. First of all the company has been forced to make staff redundant following financial recession. Certain staff will not lose their jobs because their work is essential to the company. Various other staff, however, are less essential, and management will consider a number of different criteria when deciding who will stay and who will go.

So there you have it:

  • several (collocates strongly with ‘reasons’, extremely common inside the lexical phrase ‘for several reasons‘ – examples)
  • certain (for people or things that are somehow ‘unique’ – examples)
  • various (collocates strongly with ‘other’ + plural count noun – examples)
  • a number of (plus plural count noun – examples)

Use these alternatives flexibly in your IELTS writing and you will improve your score for LR (Lexical Resource) and possibly also for TA/TR (Task Achievement/Task Response). If you’re not sure what is meant by LR, TA and TR, take a look at the IELTS public band descriptors for Speaking and Writing. Links to these can be found here.

By the way you might also notice that ‘staff’ is used here as an uncountable noun, which it is, most of the time. I talk about ‘staff’ in more detail in a previous post.


A lexical phrase is a phrase in which words always appear in the same form and the same sequence. They include words that collocate strongly with each other, and are therefore good to use in IELTS speaking and writing. Lexical phrases are also often idiomatic.

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