Fluctuative?!

Since the abolition of fuel subsidies, prices have been fluctuative.

Nice try! The IELTS examiner will understand that you are trying to make an adjective from the verb ‘fluctuate’ using ‘ive’. Normally this would be a good strategy, but there is no such word as ‘fluctuative’ and so this time you will receive a low score for vocabulary.

The safest approach is to use the verb form:

  • Since the abolition of fuel subsidies, prices have fluctuated.

Alternatively, you can make an adjective phrase using the noun form and featuring some collocation:

  • Since the abolition of fuel subsidies, prices have been subject to fluctuation.

Finally you might try some more fancy academic collocation:

  • Since the abolition of fuel subsidies, prices have tended to fluctuate.

Now go ahead and remove fluctuative from your list of ‘ive’ adjectives!

For the sake of future generations

It is important to consider the negative effects for the sake of our young generation.

We like ‘for the sake of’, but not ‘our young generation’. It’s grammatically correct but doesn’t feel right. Therefore we probably have a collocation problem.

How about this:

  • It is important to consider the negative effects for the sake of future generations.

When you think about it, future generations all start out young, and we would hope that there will be more than one future generation. In academic writing it is also better to avoid personal pronouns, even possessives (‘our’). We therefore recommend the phrase for the sake of future generations.

@guruEAP

 

Consider ‘consider’

First of all it is necessary to consider about unemployment. Unemployment is considered as a serious problem.

flag-of-indonesia This one is a quickie for Indonesians who feel a strong urge to insert ‘tentang’ after consider and ‘sebagai’ after the passive considered.

  • First of all it is necessary to consider unemployment.
  • Unemployment is considered (to be) a serious problem.

Next time you use consider/considered, consider not using ‘tentang’/’sebagai’!

@guruEAP

DishwasherS, vacuum cleanerS, etc.

Domestic work is made easier with the use of dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, and washing machine.

It doesn’t matter which dishwasher, which vacuum cleaner, or which washing machine, they all make domestic work easier, or at least so this claim seems to suggest.

  • Domestic work is made easier with the use of dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines.

If your claim applies to all of them everywhere, add an ‘s’ to your noun!

@guruEAP

Wrong because of ‘because of’

These problems have become more serious because of the government have failed to end corruption.

Ok, so there’s a problem here because of ‘because of’!

It should read:

🙂 These problems have become more serious because the government have failed to end corruption.

Just follow this rule:

  • because + cause sentence
  • because of + cause noun

If you really want to use because of then you might write:

  • These problems have become more serious because of the government’s failure to end corruption.

@guruEAP

Million or millions?

According to a recent census, there are 265 millions people living in Indonesia.

Yes, I know it seems right. But it isn’t. Only put an ‘s’ on million when million is the main noun in a noun phrase. Very often million is the main noun in a noun phrase when it is at the beginning of a sentence..

  • Millions of people live in Indonesia, a huge archipelago in south-east Asia.

..but not always. It might appear somewhere inside a sentence:

  • Indonesia spends millions of dollars every year subsidising fuel.

In the noun phrase millions of peoplemillions is the main noun, modified by of people. We know exactly which millions you’re talking about – not millions of bananas, for example! The same goes for millions of dollars (not millions of rupiah!).

When million is not the main noun, for example when it is modifying another noun, don’t add an ‘s’:

According to a recent census, there are 265 million people living in Indonesia.

In the noun phrase 265 million people living in Indonesia, the main noun is ‘people’. All of the other words in the phrase give us information about ‘people’ – how many, and where they live.

The same rule applies to hundred(s)thousand(s), etc.

Practice

Instructions

Select words from the drop-down menus to complete the text. When you have finished, click 'Check your answers!' for feedback.

('Z' = 'zero article')

Last year of people around the world spent 2 dollars or more buying consumer goods. Of these goods, smartphones have become a dollar industry with of manufacturers in more than 3 countries. In the future this is likely to grow to many .

A lack of ‘lack’

Indonesian students sometimes struggle because they lack of critical thinking skills.

It’s true that ‘lack’ collocates strongly with ‘of’, but only when ‘lack’ is a noun. When ‘lack’ is a verb, there is no ‘of’!

  • Indonesian students sometimes struggle because they lack critical thinking skills.

If you really want to use lack of then treat ‘lack’ as a noun:

  • A lack of critical thinking skills sometimes causes Indonesian students to struggle.

Once again, in lack of, ‘lack’ is a noun, not a verb!

@guruEAP

Task 1 Past Perfect

Past perfect tense needs to be handled with care. It is most useful in the narrative genre and is seldom needed in Task 2 writing. However, Task 1 essays occasionally present an opportunity to use past perfect.

Let’s try an exercise! Follow my instructions carefully and attempt the tasks before reading my sample texts.

  1. Look at the following graph and attempt to describe it in two short paragraphs. The first paragraph will focus on general trends and will begin:

In general..

The second paragraph will describe details and will begin:

In detail..

When you’re happy with your writing, you can read my sample text.

  1. Finished writing? OK now take a look at my sample text and analysis.

 

 

 

 

 

Sample text

In general, Facebook had by far the highest number of active users per month, and this number increased by more than 50% during the period. Despite having far fewer users per month, Twitter experienced a similar increase in numbers, but was overtaken half way through the period by Instagram.

In detail, Facebook already had a billion active users in 2012, but by 2015 this figure had increased to more than 1.5 billion. Twitter was in second place until 2014 when the monthly number of active Instagram users began to exceed that of Twitter users, and by 2015 Instagram had taken a 0.1 billion user lead over Twitter, forcing Twitter into third position. Similarly, by 2015 Snapchat had attracted only half as many active users per month as Instagram.

Analysis

Notice the structural use of past perfect in the detail section. I admit that I went a bit mad with it, but I strongly recommend this structure:

By + past time expression + subject + V3

Final task

  1. Take another look at your own text. Did you use my past perfect structure? If not, can you edit your text so as to include it in at least one sentence? Please share your writing in the comments section!

Even though.. (but..)

Even the government has tried hard to control corruption, but bribery is still commonplace.

There are two problems here. First of all ‘even’ at the beginning of a sentence is normally joined by ‘though’: even though (2 words!). The second problem is often experienced by Indonesians trying to translate meskipun..akan tetapi. In English there is no akan tetapi, so no but:

  • Even though the government has tried hard to control corruption, bribery is still commonplace.

Notice the position of the comma in this sentence and don’t forget to include it!

Have fun using even though. 🙂

@guruEAP

The price is expensive

Because of the recent increase in fuel prices, the price of food is more expensive than before.

 This is obviously a direct translation of harganya lebih mahal!

This is really a collocation problem. The IELTS examiner will understand what you mean, but you will not receive a good score for vocabulary. A product or service can be expensive, but the price of the product or service is either high or low.

More correct collocation is as follows:

  • Because of the recent increase in fuel prices, the price of food is higher than before.
  • Because of the recent increase in fuel prices, food is more expensive than before.

Hope that helps!

@guruEAP