Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range in Writing Task 2

Your Task 2 essay will be assessed on the range of grammar and vocabulary in your essay.

Range of grammar refers mainly to the variety of sentence structures you use – simple, compound and complex. It also refers to other aspects of grammar, such as, the use of nominalization and modals.

Range of vocabulary refers to the variety of words you use in your essay. In order to improve your vocabulary you need to focus on using modifiers and synonyms too.

Let us look at how to improve the range of grammar and vocabulary in your writing by focusing on using:-

  • a variety of sentence structures
  • a wide range of vocabulary.

Sentence structure

In writing a Task 2 essay, you will need to use a variety of sentence structures.

There are three main types of sentence structures:

  • simple sentences
  • compound sentences
  • complex sentences.

Simple sentences

simple sentence has one independent clause that stands on its own.

Example

Computers are useful tools.

Compound sentences

compound sentence is a sentence that has more than one independent clause. In this type of sentence structure, independent clauses are linked together usually by a conjunction.

The following chart shows different conjunctions and adverbs that are usually used to link two independent clauses:

conjunctions: and, or, nor, but, yet, so, for
adverbs: however, nevertheless, otherwise, instead, also, moreover, furthermore, besides, consequently, therefore, thus, likewise.

Note that these adverbs usually link sentences together. However, when these adverbs link two independent clauses, a semicolon is generally used before the adverb. As well, a comma usually follows the adverb.

Let’s look at some examples of how two simple sentences can be made into a compound sentence using conjunctions and adverbs.

Example 1

Sentence 1 Computers have improved the way people communicate at the workplace.

Sentence 2 An increasing number of companies are now using the email as a form of communication.

Compound sentence Computers have improved the way people communicate at the workplace, so an increasing number of companies are now using the email as a form of communication.

Example 2

Sentence 1 The Internet is being used worldwide.

Sentence 2 Many people do not have access to the Internet.

 

Compound sentence The Internet is being used worldwide; however, many people do not have access to it.

Complex sentences

complex sentence is a sentence that has more than one clause. Unlike compound sentences, a complex sentence links an independent clause with a dependent clause. Dependent clauses are clauses that need to be next to an independent clause because they cannot stand on their own. Consider the following example:

Computers are useful tools that offer several benefits to people.

The independent clause (Computers are useful tools) can stand alone. However, the dependent clause (that offer several benefits to people) does not mean anything on its own.

Complex sentences also use words to join the clauses together, such as:

Conjunctions of contrast: although, though, even though, while, whereas
Conjunctions of cause and effect: as, since, because, in order that
Conjunctions of condition: if, unless, only if, even if, in case (that), whether or not
Conjunctions of time: until, after, before, while, since, when
Relative pronouns: which, that, who, whose, whom.

Let’s look at some examples of how simple sentences can be made into a complex sentence using conjunctions and relative pronouns.

Example 1

Sentence 1 Computers can be used in harmful ways.

Sentence 2 Computers offer several benefits to people.

Complex sentence Although computers can be used in harmful ways, they also offer several benefits to people.

Example 2

Sentence 1 Computers are useful tools.

Sentence 2 Computers offer several benefits to people.

Complex sentences
Computers are useful tools that offer several benefits to people.
Because computers are useful tools, they offer several benefits to people.

In the next activities, you will focus on using a variety of conjunctions to write compound and complex sentences.

Varying your sentence structure

Look at the following sample paragraph.

Alcohol and tobacco are a greater threat to more people than hard drugs. When discussing drug problems, many people may not even consider alcohol or tobacco as drugs because they are so widely used and accepted. People are more likely to use them regularly because these drugs are legal and cheaply obtainable. They are less likely to become addicted to hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine because they are illegal and expensive.

In this paragraph, the writer has used accurate complex sentences. However, he has overused the conjunction ‘because’; as a result, the structure of the sentences is the same. Your writing should demonstrate a variety of sentence structures. Compare the following paragraph to the previous one.

Alcohol and tobacco are a greater threat to more people than hard drugs. When discussing drug problems, many people may not even consider alcohol or tobacco as drugs because they are so widely used and accepted. However, as these drugs are legal and cheaply obtainable, people are more likely to become addicted to them than to hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

The first two sentences have not been changed. The last two sentences have been joined together using different conjunctions and sentence structures to add more variety to the writing. This demonstrates your ability with language.

Vocabulary

Apart from the need to use a variety of sentence structures in your Task 2 essay, it is important you use a wide range of vocabulary in your writing. To improve your vocabulary range, you need to use modifiers and synonyms.

Using modifiers

Compare the two paragraphs below and decide which paragraph uses a better range of vocabulary.

Paragraph 1

 

Teenagers are vulnerable to feelings of isolation, as they have not developed peer groups and lack strength. Use of the Internet could lead to the inability to communicate with other people and comes at the expense of activities such as meeting with friends.
 
Paragraph 2

 

Teenagers are especially vulnerable to feelings of isolation as they have not developed strong peer groups and often lack emotional strength. Excessive use of the Internet could lead to the inability to communicate effectively with other people in face-to-face situations and often comes at the expense of more social activities such as meeting with friends.

 

Paragraph 2

Teenagers are especially vulnerable to feelings of isolation as they have not developed strong peer groups and often lack emotional strength. Excessive use of the Internet could lead to the inability to communicate effectively with other people in face-to-face situations and often comes at the expense of more social activities such as meeting with friends.

Using synonyms

Synonyms are words that have the same meaning.

To provide a good range of vocabulary in your writing, you need to use synonyms as they will help you to have a variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Look at the paragraph below.

Athletes’ careers are often short and the majority retire when they are quite young. Therefore, a high salary and medical care should be given to professional athletes for their future lives. Athletes have worked hard and deserve these rewards.

The word ‘athlete’ has been used repeatedly in the previous paragraph.

There are many other words that have the same meaning as athlete:

  • contestant
  • sportsperson
  • participant
  • competitor

We can now use these words to improve the range of vocabulary of the paragraph.

Athletes’ careers are often short and the majority retire when they are quite young. Therefore, a high salary and medical care should be given to professional sportspeople for their future lives. These competitors have worked hard and deserve such rewards.

In the second and third sentences, the synonyms for athlete, ‘sportspeople’ and ‘competitors’, have been used.

Be careful using synonyms

Firstly, some words may look the same, however, they may not be synonyms. Look at the sample sentences below:

Parents are responsible for their childhood. Without guidance from their father and mother, children may experience a variety of problems.

Can you find any problems with these sentences? In this example the writer has tried to use the word childhood as a synonym for the word children. Both of these words are nouns, however they are not synonyms. The word children refers to young people, usually under the age of twelve. The word childhood refers to the period of time when someone is a child. These sentences could be better expressed as:

Parents are responsible for their offspring. Without guidance from their father and mother, children may experience a variety of problems.

Secondly, not all synonyms for a word will be appropriate in your essay as they may be too informal.

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