Training or trainings?

This problem can be overcome through government policies that improve access to education and trainings.

Indonesian flag This is one of the rare occasions when low-band Indonesian IELTS candidates add ‘s’ to a word!

Admittedly you will occasionally see training as a countable noun, but the uncountable form is far more common. Think of training (uncountable) as a synonym for education (aslo uncountable). Continue reading

The workplace

Modern technology is becoming more common both at home and in workplaces.

the workplace (uncountable!)

When you use the workplace (uncountable) you’re talking about the abstract idea of the workplace as a feature of people’s lives along with school and the home. In addition, you’re usually talking about one or more of the following: Continue reading

A critique of ‘critic’

Many teachers believe that smartphones should not be allowed in class because they distract students and do not help them to develop learning skills. However these critics are wrong, for the following reasons.

Critic is one of those words that has several forms, some of which have been borrowed by other languages and some of which have not. Consequently there is potential for word form error when critic is used by non-native speakers.
Indonesian flag Indonesians often use critic when they mean criticism! Continue reading

Describing transformational change(s)

The farmland was transformed become residential areas.

I have written elsewhere about how Indonesian IELTS candidates often use become to talk about a constant, where in English it is only ever used to describe a change. However, although become is used to describe a change, we would not use become AND transform together. Continue reading

Unreasonable use of ‘reason’

The reasons that caused land degradation are shown in the pie chart.

One problem here is that reason is closely synonymous with cause, and so it’s as though you’re saying:

  • ..the causes that caused land degradation!”

Another problem is that reason has stronger collocates:

  • The reasons for land degradation are shown in the pie chart.
  • reason(s) + for + effect(s) noun
  • The reasons why land became degraded are shown in the pie chart.
  • reason(s) + why + effect(s) clause

Notice that in these last two examples there is no cause effect signal (cause). If you use a cause effect signal then you need a more suitable substitute word for the cause or reason:

  • The factors that caused land degradation are shown in the pie chart.
  • The conditions that led to land degradation are shown in the pie chart.

In your IELTS Task 1 essay you will go on to name and describe factors and conditions, and this is easier to do elegantly if you call them ‘factors’ and ‘conditions’ than if you call them ‘reasons’.

Chicken because egg because chicken

Earth hour can have a significant impact on our planet. Because much can be achieved when people work together towards a shared goal.

I’ve posted about because before – here, here, and here. It’s such a common word and so you should make a special effort to use it correctly. Incorrect use can have a negative effect on your IELTS speaking and writing scores! Continue reading

Better off using ‘better off’

Many students spend hours reading grammar books in order to improve their English. However, they are probably better off reading novels instead.

Most people are familiar with better off as the comparative form of well off (= wealthy). However, better off has other uses in IELTS speaking and writing (Task 2). Continue reading