I’m preparing for dinner.
(You’re washing your hands. You’re going to eat very soon.)
A baby prepares for dinner while his mother prepares dinner!
I’m preparing an exam.
(You’re writing the questions that someone will answer when they sit the exam.)
I’m preparing for an exam.
(You’re reading and thinking about questions that might be included in an exam that you are about to take.)
These men prepared a disaster. They made the first atom bomb!
Some people prepare for disaster.
Returning to our opening example, you probably need:
Is this a good way for students to prepare for their new academic environments?
If students are preparing their academic environments, they’re already there – possibly they’re busy arranging furniture in their accommodation, putting books on shelves, etc. If they’re preparing for their new environments, they’re not there yet because they’re not yet ready – possibly they need to study more first, pass exams, save money, etc.
Since young people want to be considered independent humans. They try to prove their ability for themselves and other people as well.
This student is experimenting with alternatives for because but has found herself in hot water. There are two possible improvements:
Since young people want to be considered independent humans, they try to prove their ability for themselves and other people as well. [since + cause sentence + comma + effect sentence]
Young people try to prove their ability for themselves and other people as well, since they want to be considered independent humans. [effect sentence + comma + since + cause sentence]
In both of these examples, since is indeed an exact synonym for because, and so is as. However, as and since are more likely to appear at the beginning of a sentence, whereas because is more common after a comma:
beginning of sentence
beginning of sentence
Returning to our opening example, we could also get rid of the word humans since it is clear we’re not talking about aliens or rocks:
Since young people want to be considered independent, they try to prove their ability for themselves and other people as well.
The over-use of the word human may be cultural. See here, here and here.
Some world leaders continue to deny that human activity is to blame for global warming, but the following text argues that humans are in fact largely responsible.
The text features some quite sophisticated cause effect signals. Try the gapfill and be sure to review alternative answers mentioned in the answer key (available after submitting answers). Continue reading →
Here an Indonesian IELTS candidate has made a positive claim about a place he or she likes, and is supporting that claim with another positive comment about the food there. This candidate perhaps feels that food is not a particularly ‘high-band’ word, and is experimenting with a more sophisticated synonym.
The word culinary has been imported from English into Indonesian, but it has changed slightly in the process. Whereas in Indonesian kuliner can be used either as an adjective or a noun, the English culinary can only be used as an adjective. And so straight away the candidate has produced a word form error.
If you want a high-band synonym for ‘food’, you might try:
First of all I love the cuisine.
But be careful! Cuisine (a word borrowed from French!) is used in English to refer to the kind of food preparation you might expect in an expensive restaurant, or the kind of cooking that wins prizes in competitions. On the other hand if you’re talking about the kind of food that ordinary people eat in a particular country, day-to-day, then you’re talking about their food:
First of all I love the food.
So what have we learned?
Words borrowed from other languages can change in several ways:
Using synonyms in an attempt to appear more sophisticated can get you into trouble. Only do it if you’re confident that you have chosen a synonym that carries the right meaning and fits grammatically into a phrase or sentence.
This has two literal meanings, both of which seem odd:
You only need small equipment to play badminton.
You need not enough equipment to play badminton.
Clearly the writer did not intend either of these meanings. First of all there is obviously a standard size for badminton equipment, which is neither small nor large. Secondly, it would be impossible to play badminton without ‘enough’ equipment!
Little and a little have quite different meanings. Compare:
Gosh I’m thirsty after that game! Do you have any water left?
Yes, I still have a little. Here you are.
[a little = not much, but enough]
I wish we could play badminton more often!
Yes, but because of my job I have little time.
[little = not enough]
In the opening example, the writer is – I think – trying to say that playing badminton does not involve a lot of equipment:
You don’t need much equipment to play badminton.
In this case, not much means enough, and that’s good because it means that badminton is inexpensive compared to, say, photography, which generally involves a lot of expensive equipment and therefore a lot of spending!
There is an increasing competition which results in several negative effects.
Compare the following meanings.
He won first prize in the competition.
(competition, countable = an organised event in which people compete with each other – in front of an audience – to win a prize or a medal) [kompetisi / lomba / pertandingan]
There is fierce competition among rival tech companies.
(competition, uncountable = a situation in which a person or an organisation is trying to be more successful – often financially – than another person or organisation) [saingan]
Apple – Samsung
In the opening example our writer is using meaning (1), but I think he should be using meaning (2). First of all it’s difficult to imagine a competition, like the Olympic Games, ‘increasing’. What does that mean? Does it mean more countries are taking part? Or more people are taking part? Or more events are included now? And anyway, who would consider any of these increases to be ‘negative’?
I think the writer means this:
There is increasing competition which results in several negative effects.
..blah blah blah. In addition, cities provide and manage recycling of garbage, and provide waste disposal services. Eventually, most cities provide good drainage to prevent flooding.
I’m not sure this is what the writer meant. According to the dictionary, eventually means ‘in the end, especially after a long delay, dispute, or series of problems.‘ Our writer, however, is simply adding a final support to a debatable claim about cities:
In addition, cities provide and manage recycling of garbage, and provide waste disposal services. Finally, most cities provide good drainage to prevent flooding.
With eventually, we might have some thing like:
The people lobbied the government for years to improve drainage. They sent letters, held meetings, and marched regularly in front of the government offices. For years people’s houses were destroyed by floods until the situation become unbearable. Eventually the governmentagreed to fund a new drainage system.
If you know of a problem that took a long time and a lot of effort to resolve, tell us about it in the comments below. And don’t forget to use eventually!