A good way to avoid repetition in writing, and at the same time to cement (= stick) sentences together so that ideas flow smoothly, is to use what’s called referencing and substitution (many examples of referencing and substitution in previous posts).
In this post we focus again on using it and this as substitutes for themes and rhemes. If you’re not sure what is meant by theme and rheme, please read this before trying the activity below. 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!
There was confusion in class recently about the meaning of ‘sustainability’, so let’s take a few minutes out to get our heads around this extremely important social issue. Below is the opening of the Wikipedia entry on sustainability. Find out what sustainablity actually is and at the same time practice using articles!
A related practice activity focusing on the effects of plastic on the environment can be found here. And if you need ideas about how to choose articles to go with nouns, read this.
As usual, if you think an article isn’t needed, just leave the drop-down menu blank! Continue reading →
In a more recent practice activity the focus is on sustainable development and how that relates to the envirnoment. Meanwhile if you’re not sure about how to use articles in English (a, an, the), read this first, and then try the activity below!
In addition to the instruction given, if no article is suitable then don’t make a selection. Good luck! Continue reading →