That of

The next topic is that of ‘that of’

Posted by on February 27th, 2020 | 0 comments | comparatives, comparing, IELTS, speaking, statistics, Task 1, vocabulary, writing

Thanks to GuruEAP follower Devina who has requested an explanation of the use of that of.

This is a low-frequency vocabulary item and is likely to get you a high score for Lexical Resource (vocabulary) in IELTS. However, you need to be sure to use it appropriately.

than that of (comparing possessives)

  • Their position was only slightly better than that of slaves.
  • (= Their position was only slightly better than the position of slaves.)
  • Their hearing is no better than that of humans.
  • (= Their hearing is no better than the hearing of humans.)
  • The literacy rate of males is considerably higher than that of women.
  • (= The literacy rate of males is considerably higher than the literacy rate of women.)

Notice that..

  • (as shown) each of these sentences could just as easily be written without using that of, but that of makes the sentences appear more sophisticated.
  • the nouns being compared – position, hearing, literacy rate – are all abstract.
  • that of helps to avoid repetition, which might be useful when the nouns being compared are part of a longer noun phrase:
    • The average increase in global surface temperature this year has been slightly higher than that of last year.
    • (= The average increase in global surface temperature this year has been slightly higher than the average increase in global surface temperature last year.)

is/was that of (introducing important topics)

  • Another interesting point is that of education.
  • (= Another interesting point is education.)
  • Another key concern was that of accountability.
  • (= Another key concern was accountability.)
  • The primary problem here is that of copyright.
  • (= The primary problem here is copyright.)

Notice that…

  • (as shown) each of these examples could easily be written without that of, but that of looks more sophisticated.
  • that of introduces a distinct topic requiring analysis and discussion.
  • the nouns being introduced – education, accountability, copyright – are all abstract.

is/was that of (highlighting essential features)

  • The principal role was that of the dying person.
  • (= The most essential feature of the role was – dying person).
  • His voice was that of a breaking man.
  • (= His voice most closely resembled – the voice of a breaking man.)
  • The body was that of a female.
  • (= Despite some ambiguities or non-standard representation, the body most closely resembled – a female.)

Summary

Again, that of is a low frequency item. I am a native English speaker and I only use that of to avoid repetition in comparatives. I suggest you think about this use next time you are comparing statistics in IELTS Task 1 writing, where there are likely to be long noun phrases that you want to avoid repeating. Good luck!

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