More papers and paper

For all you ‘visual learners’ out there, here’s a video version of a previous post in which we looked at the difference between the countable and uncountable forms of the word ‘paper’.

After watching the video you might want to have a go at the gapfill activity accompanying the last post dealing with ‘paper’!

Crime or crimes?

Several posts on GuruEAP deal with nouns that can be either countable or uncountable but with slightly different meanings. Here’s a text packed with examples of one such word – Crime. Select either ‘crime’ or ‘crimes’ from the dropdown menus and then check the answer key for analysis and explanations!

Continue reading

(A) few, (a) little

Only some students hand in their homework on time.

Indonesian flag Elsewhere on GuruEAP we’ve looked at alternatives to ‘some’, which tends to be overused by Indonesians translating from ‘beberapa’, or, in the example above – ‘hanya beberapa’.

In this post we look at other alternatives to ‘some’ that are especially problematic for Indonesians because they are awkward to translate: few, a few, little, and a little.

As with all quantifiers, we need to begin by deciding whether the noun we’re quantifying is countable or uncountable. Continue reading

Idiomatic language in IELTS

I recently started walking to work occasionally, but it’s still only once in a blue moon.

Students read in the IELTS public band descriptors that band 7 candidates can use ‘idiomatic language’, and so they head for the nearest idioms dictionary and start writing things like ‘once in a blue moon‘, or ‘a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush‘, but in the wrong contexts!

In this post we take a look at what the IELTS test means by ‘idiomatic language’. Continue reading

No need for ‘necessity’

It is a necessity of Christian churches to address post-colonial issues in their ministerial aspects.

This was a special request from subscriber and special friend Elia who is unsure about his use of the word ‘necessity’. Like many Indonesians he is not confident when it comes to expressing subtle degrees of obligation, the Indonesian equivalents for which are often less subtle than their English counterparts. Continue reading

Both or both of?

Euthanasia may be a good solution for both of patients and their families.

Both/both of follows the same rule as some/some of, all/all of, most/most of, etc. Elsewhere on GuruEAP you can listen to a song that includes examples of most of these (but not, I now realise, both/both of!), plus you can find another post showing how this kind of grammar can be useful in IELTS task 1 writing when describing statistical data.

As usual I suggest you approach this problem lexically – in other words pay close attention to the words (lexis) immediately following these signals. Here are some examples. Continue reading

Jumbled hedges

Academic writers make frequent use of ‘hedges’ – phrases that change the strength of their claims so as to make them more acceptable to other academics. A claim can be made stronger or weaker by adding adjectives and adverbs, by changing verbs, or by adding lengthy ‘hedging’ phrases.

The activity below includes 10 sentences that feature hedging. Try to reconstruct them and see if you can identify which words and phrases constitute ‘hedging’!

(Answer key below!) Continue reading