HOW TO TALK ABOUT PROBLEMS AND DIFFICULTIES
Life is not a bed of roses, there are times when we need to face some difficulties. Some of them are small, some are much more important. How to talk about problems?
SNAG – a problem, especially a small one, hidden or unexpected
We hit a snag – we couldn’t pay for the shopping because there was not enough funds on the bank account.
SETBACK – a problem that delays or prevents something, makes the situation worse
The company suffered a major setback when it hadn’t been granted credit.
GLITCH – a problem that stops something working successfully
A few technical glitches made us put off the launch of our new product.
MORE IMPORTANT DIFFICULTIES:
STUMBLING BLOCK – a problem that prevents action or agreement.
Conflict within a team is often a stumbling block to positive cooperation.
PITFALL – an unexpected difficulty (often in plural – pitfalls)
There are many pitfalls while buying a house.
OBSTACLE – stops progress
A lack of qualifications can be a major obstacle to finding a job.
IMPEDIMENT – prevents free action, progress or movement
The level of red tape is a serious impediment to set up a new company in Russia.
DILEMMA – a situation which makes problems and you have to make a choice between things of equal importance
Job seekers face the dilemma of unsatisfying job against the risk of long-term unemployment.
ORDEAL – a severe experience, which is very difficult, painful or tiring
The refugees talked about the terrible ordeal they had been through due to the war.
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Prefixes and suffixes give a new meaning to already existing words. Below, there are three prefixes which are commonly used:
MONO- meaning one
monochrome - a painting, drawing, photograph in a single color (monochromatic)
monologue - a long speech delivered by one person
monopoly - complete ontrol over the goods or services of an entire market
monoxide - an oxide containing only one oxygen atom in the molecule
SEMI- meaning half
semi-annually - occuring twice a year
semi-detached - about a house joined to another one on one side, having one shared wall
semicircle - half a circle
BI- meaing two/twice
bicycle - a vehicle with two wheels
biennial - happening every two years
bilingual - able to speak two different language
biped - a two-footed creature (e.g. humans)
Test yourself, choose the correct prefix mono/semi/bi:
1. Canada and the USA signed ......lateral agreement.
2. She gave a ......logue, nobody wanted to talk to her.
3. This industry suffers from a shortage of ....-skilled workers.
4. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are the main ......theistic religions.
5. Having a Greek father and Italian mother, he grew up ......lingual.
The answers are below.
1. bilateral 2. monologue 3. semi-skilled 4. monotheistic 5. bilingual
In IELTS Writing Task 1, you have to summarise information which is presented in a visual form. There are a few forms you can come across - a line graph is one of them. This type of figure can be used to show trends. The horizontal axis often indicates time, and the vertical axis often shows changes over time.
Look at the example of a line graph presenting CPI (consumer price index) Inflation in Polad in 2018.
Remember you should spend about 20 minutes on this task and write at least 150 words.
In 2018 inflation in Poland fluctuated between 2.1% in January and reaching around 1.9% in December.
The first two months of the year marked a significant drop in CPI, reaching its lowest point of 1.5%. The situation remained stable until March and then the inflation started to increase steadily until June, when it stood at nearly 2.2%. Thereafter, the percentage fluctuated for two months. After reaching a high point in August, it began to decrease gradually, finally reaching almost 1.9%.
Overall, the graph shows the change in inflation in Poland during the period of 12 months, where the average inflation amounted to 1.81%.
How to write the task
Paraphrase the instructions, try to use varied language - use synonyms.
Focus on the main features. Don't describe all the points, describe the trend.
Use different forms. Don't use only numbers, give aproximates (e.g - nearly, almost).
Use verbs of change: rise, increase, drop, fluctuate, remain stable
Use adverbs after verbs: increase steadily, decrease gradually
Use noun phrases: a significant drop, a high point
Once again provide a short overview of the graph, use different forms than in the introduction
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Phrases used in news often contain metaphors
for example if two people are involved in struggle in courts of law they are involved in a legal battle, but they are not literally fighting. There are plenty of different metaphors connected with sport, fire, water or war which are commonly used in news reports to make articles more attractive.
a tight corner - a difficult situation
The CEO has got himself into a tight corner when he admitted to spending company's funds on private trips.
moving the goalposts - unfairly changing the rules during a course of action
The government is accused of moving the goal posts in terms of fiscal policy.
foul play - behaviour that is unfair
The competition was accused of foul play.
a level playing field - a situation in which everyone has the same opportunities.
The Ministry of Employment want a level playing field for all employed.
the ball's in someone's court - people wait for the action of the others because they have done what they could
I help her in any possible way, now the ball's in her court.
spark - cause something to start or develop
The company is trying to solve the problem of work overload as it can spark further workers' burnout.
a blazing row - a very nasty argument
My parents had a blazing row last night.
burning - very strong
He had a burning desire to succeed in his new role.
blaze a trail - do something no one else has done before
Our scientist made a breakthrough and blazed a trail for others in the field.
a storm of protest - a lot of people express strong feelings against something
There has been a storm of protest over the new legislation.
flood - appear in large numbers at the same time
Before Christmas we are usually flooded with orders .
a drop in the ocean - a very small amount compared with what is needed
The money the hospital gets from the government is a drop in the ocean.
a sea of something - a large amount of something
She looked out over a sea of smiling faces.
How to write an introduction to academic essays
Do you struggle with writing a decent introduction to your academic essay? Struggle no more. Below you'll find a perfectly clear design of an introduction, which can serve not only for IELTS, you can successfully apply it to any essays which require formal register.
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Academic Writing - How to present an argument
Do you write a lot of essays, articles, assignments? Are you preparing for an exam like IELTS? Then you are required to present your arguments and to do so you have to use more formal style than when you speak. Learn how to do it right.
Developing an argument
These phrases are often used to open paragraphs. Pay attention to the prepostions.
be based on
This essay is based on the findings from recent research into insomnia.
for the purposes of
For the purposes of this article, the author will present two opposing thories.
I shall refer to Kawasaki's and Kotler's work, respectively.
The arguments I shall put forward are relevant to our understanding of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
on the subject of
There are many articles published on the subject of productivity at work.
with reference to
The first section reviews recent literature, with reference to the arguments concerning motivating factors.
Adding point to an argument
on top of
Bad diet, lack of exercise and stress are key factors in causing heart diseases; on top of that there is smoking, which additionally contributes to lung cancer.
in addition to
In addition to the survey, we carried out a number of interviews with some of the patients.
Drinking alcohol can lead to problems with liver. Moreover, drinking alcohol may impede cognitive abilities.
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“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”
How to talk about secrets and news.
People love gossiping. Either you are a gossip or they gossip about you. Learn a handful of phrases to describe the very act of gossiping.
to confide - zwierzyć się
- to tell something secret or personal to someone who you trust not to tell anyone else
My friend confided to me that she was pregnant.
to drop a bombshell - oznajmić złą wiadomość
- to announce a sudden and often unpleasant piece of news
My son dropped a bombshell by informing us that he was going abroad.
eavesdrop (on a conversation) - podsłuchać
- to listen to someone's private conversation without them knowing:
He was eavesdropping on our conversation.
to overhear - przypadkowo podsłyszeć
- to hear what other people are saying without intending to and without their knowledge
I accidentally overheard them say they were going to fire you.
to gossip - plotkować
- to talk about other people's private lives
The employees started to gossip about their affair.
a gossip (gossipmonger) - plotkarz
- someone who enjoys talking about other people and their private lives
My mum is a terrible gossip.
indiscreet - niedyskretny
- saying things that should be secret
The actor was rather indiscreet about his relationship.
a rumour - pogłoska
- an unofficial interesting story or piece of news that might be true, and quickly spreads from person to person
Rumours are going round about CEO and his assistant.
to tell in the strictest confidence - w największej tajemnicy
- expecting not to tell it anyone else
I'm telling you this in the strictest confidence.
be the soul of discretion - uosobienie dyskrecji
- a person who keeps a secret
Don't worry, I'm the soul of discretion when it comes to delicate matters.
to breathe a word to somebody - pisnąć słowko
- to reveal the secret
You cannot breathe a word of this to anybody.
don't quote me on this - nie powołuj się na mnie
- do not tell other people I said this
Don't quote me on this, but I saw our neighbour cheat on his wife.
it's very hush-hush - to ściścle tajne
- highly confidential
It's very hush-hush, don't tell anyone!
be under wraps - trzymać w tajemnicy, zamieść pod dywan
- keep as a secret
These incidents have to be kept under wraps, or we will lose our jobs.
hear on the grapevine - uslyszeć pocztą pantoflową
- find out about something unofficially
I heard on the grapevine he is being promoted.
Imagine being asked to discuss the advangages and disadvantages of a certain development during your IELTS exam writing task 2, how will you word your ideas? These ready made phrases below will make your life way easier and help you score much higher.
One benefit of (doing something) is ...
A further argument in favour of (doing something) is ...
(Doing something) may also be beneficial because ...
(Something) may also be advantageous because ...
(Soing something) may be invaluable later on because ...
This kind of (something) may be of considerable benefit in the way that ...
In the long run, there may be certain negative outcomes, for example ...
A major downside to this form of (something) might be that ...
A secondary drawback is that ...
One other unfortunate aspects of this (something) is that ...
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