IELTS Writing, Task 1, Task 2, Uncategorized

Substitution and Avoiding Repetition

In speaking and in writing, we try to avoid repeating words, phrases or clauses. We use substitute forms to do this. Knowledge of these forms will improve the quality of your essays as they help to avoid unnecessary repetition. This will help to make your writing style more similar to an educated native speaker’s and thus make it more likely you can achieve a level 7 or above.
 
Types of Substitution

We can use many different words and phrases in substitution, including words such as ‘both’, ‘either’, ‘some’ (indefinite quantifying pronouns), ‘do’ and ‘so’.
 
Pronouns
 
  1. Personal (I, me, you, him, it, they, etc.)
Personal pronouns are used in place of noun phrases, usually to refer back to people and things already mentioned. Possessive pronouns ( mine, yours etc) are used in a similar way
     
Examples:
I can speak Japanese quite well. I ‘ve been learning it for several years.

To ensure that our sales staff speak to customers in an appropriate way, management has made the decision to send them on a training course next week

  1. Indefinite quantifying pronouns
These include words like  little ,many, enough none
     
Examples:
There were two choices on the menu but I didn’t like either.

The company spent a lot of money for the staff trip but only a few signed up to go.
 
Substituting with do

Do, do so, do it, do the same
are used to substitute for a verb and whatever accompanies it (complement):
     
Examples:
None of the team understood the problem at first, but they did after a few days.

I always a have a  shower before breakfast and my wife does the same.
 
Substituting with so and such

So
is often used as an adjective, an object clause, and with reporting verbs

Such
is used to mean ‘this or that kind’
     
Examples:
The service has always been bad and it is so today.

Many people believe that we need to recycle more, and I think so too.

The local authority spent over $5 million on a new logo. Everyone agreed that such extravagance could not be justified.

One, some, ones

These are used  to substitute for countable nouns:

Examples: 
They looked at several houses but couldn’t find one they both liked.

The spiders you want to avoid to the small red ones.
 
 This, that, these, those as pronouns

We normally use this, that, these and those as pronouns to refer to things or ideas:

Examples:
The college decided to hire more part-timers. The full-time staff were not happy with that.

How can we save money? Where should we invest? Where can we get financial advice from? These are some of the questions we need to address.

In formal contexts, especially in academic style, we use that of/those of:
 
Example: The fossil  has a similar shape and size to that of a horse
 
Ellipsis

Ellipsis is used when we omit words or phrases which can be understood from the context.

Examples:
  She went to the office and worked all day. (she is ellipted in the second clause).

I would like to move to a larger house but I can’t afford to
  (move to a larger house is ellipted).

Verb-noun/ noun-verb transformations

We can avoid repeating a verb or noun in a following sentence by replacing the verb with its noun equivalent and vice-versa. This is a useful device when trying to paraphrase an essay title ( We will look at this more closely in a later article)

Example:
Many people today assume that famine could no longer happen in the developed world. However, I am not so sure that this is a valid assumption.
 
 We can use substitution to refer backwards or forwards. Forward substitution is far less common than backward substitution
 
If you need it, I’ll send you the list of contacts. (forward substitution).
If you need the list of contacts, I’ll send it to you. (backward substitution).
 
Synonyms

Synonyms can also be used to avoid unnecessary repetition. These can also include more general terms.

Example:
  My favourite sports are soccer and rugby. I played both these team games at school.
 
Exercises

Exercise 1

The following passage comes from a textbook for children explaining what ‘temperature’ and ‘thermometers’ are.

Decide which of the alternative sentences is most appropriate for producing a coherent text.
 
Temperature and Thermometers  

A kettle placed over a fire gets hot.

1a) Although there is no change in the appearance of the kettle, something has obviously happened to it.
 
1b) Although there is no change in the appearance of this, something has obviously happened to it.

1c) Although there is no change in the appearance of the kettle, something has obviously happened to the fire.
 
2a) Because of the heat, the atoms that make it up vibrate more energetically than when the kettle is cold.

2b) Because of the heat, the atoms that make up the kettle vibrate more energetically than when the kettle is cold

2c) Because of this, the atoms that make up a kettle vibrate more energetically than when it is cold
 
For heat is simply a form of energy.

3a) Heat energy has flowed from the fire into the kettle.

3b) The heat energy has flowed from the fire into the kettle.

3c) Heat energy has flowed from the fire into the kettle.
 
 The hotness of an object is indicated by its temperature.  
 
Exercise 2

Add suitable substitution words to the following
 
  1. Nothing is ever the way you expect ___ to be.
 
  1. Do you know who the Marketing Manager is? _____Julie Sanderson.
 
  1. I don’t know ___ she’s working for now.
 
  1. We decided to keep the left over food for __________.
 
  1. The computer will turn ­­­­­_______off if you don’t use it.
 
  1. Mr. Jarvis and his co-worker in the States write to _______ every week.
 
  1. Somebody phoned and said _____ wanted to see you
 
Exercise 3

Transform the second sentence in each of the following using the noun form of the verb in bold.
 
  1. We need to approach this problem in a completely different way. Unless we approach it in a more careful way, we will continue to fail to find a solution.
 
  1. A failure to vote might be interpreted as a lack of interest. However, we can interpret low turn-out in other ways.
 
Answers to Exercises

Exercise 1

The following passage comes from a textbook for children explaining what ‘temperature’ and ‘thermometers’ are.

Decide which of the alternative sentences is most appropriate for producing a coherent text.
 
A kettle placed over a fire gets hot.

Although there is no change in the appearance of the kettle, something has obviously happened to it.

Because of the heat, the atoms that make up the kettle vibrate more energetically than when the kettle is cold. For heat is simply a form of energy. Heat energy has flowed from the fire into the kettle. When the kettle is taken off the fire it cools because heat energy flows from the kettle to its surroundings.

Heat will naturally flow from a hot object to one that is colder. The hotness of an object is indicated by its temperature.  
 
Exercise 2

Add suitable substitution words to the following
 
  1. Nothing is ever the way you expect it to be.
  2. Do you know who the Marketing Manager is? It’s Julie Sanderson.
  3. I don’t know who she’s working for now
  4. We decided to keep the leftover food for ourselves.
  5. The computer will turn itself off if you don’t use it.
  6. Mr. Jarvis and his co-worker in the States write to each other every week.
  7. Somebody phoned and said they wanted to see you.
 
Exercise 3

Transform the second sentence in each of the following using the noun form of the verb in bold.
(Suggested answers)
  1. We need to approach this problem in a completely different way. Unless our approach is more careful, we will continue to fail to find a solution.
  2. A failure to vote might be interpreted as a lack of interest. However, this interpretation for low turn-out is not the only one
  3. Students have reacted angrily to the changes in the syllabus. Their negative reaction is because they had been given no prior warning.
  4. The employees were asked to respond to the company’s suggestions by the end of the week. However, only a few responses had been received by the deadline.
 
I hope this article has helped you to appreciate the importance of using substitution terms to avoid unnecessary repetition and thus help to make your writing more natural.

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