Michael Business Law
Professional Teacher
Describing figures in charts and graphs: a quiz

Many students and professionals have to describe figures in charts and graphs at work and in exams such as  IELTS academic writing and C1 Business Higher.  This is a challenging task.  Even if someone understands a chart perfectly, they can still write a sentence that, literally, makes no sense.

Consider the sentences below. Your task (non-native speakers only, please) is to explain why they are wrong and try to fix them. 

1. The production of electricity in China in 2014 was 5,398 billion kWh.

2. The men who did regular physical activity in 2010 were 52.8% in the 15-to-24 age group.

I will check back tomorrow and comment.

Good luck!

Jun 12, 2018 8:26 PM
Comments · 9

Not sure of what I've just wrote... Feel free to comment! (everybody) 

-Electricity production in China amounted to 5,398 billion kWh in 2014.<o:p></o:p>

-In 2010, 58,2% of men who did a regular physical activity belonged to the 15-to-24 age group.<o:p></o:p>

June 13, 2018
Oh, you caught me mistreating all laws of logic: Of course, there is no "male group"; there are just groups of men, women, children or groups of mixed genders! Thank you for the extra portion of wisdom, Michael. :-)
June 13, 2018
Ali, Well done. My only criticism is that "the male age group of 15 to 24" is not the best form of words because you used "male" as an adjective.  An age group isn't really male or female.  It's better to use "men" or "males aged..." "males in the 15-24 age group", etc.
June 13, 2018

Milena has given correct answers and understood the problems. 

Often, mistakes of logic are made because of the use of the word "to be". When we say A=B or A is B, then we must be able to see that there is a logically true equivalence. 

In 1, the meaning "production = a number" is not logical. We need to add the idea of "amount" e.g. "The amount of electricity produced was [number of units]" Or, we can rephrase the sentence with a dynamic verb (which is what Ali did).

Likewise in 2, men = a %?  (e.g. "My friend Tom is 40%?!").

I recommend using dynamic verbs in this structure:

subject + verb + object/complement

It is worth knowing that at a near-native level (which, impressively, Milena and Ali have), these kinds of sentences need a bit of thought but can be formulated more or less reliably. However, below such a level, learners need specific training.

Thanks for all the replies.

June 13, 2018
Very helpful exercise! Thank you for sharing it, Michael. I cannot explain exactly why I changed the sentences. The first sentence looks a bit clumsy. But I have no idea whether my sentence sounds better or not. Your second sentence emphasizes the group of men, but should better focus on the research result. Here my attempt:


In 2014, China produced 5,398 billion kWh of electricity.

In 2010, 52.8% of the male age group of 15 to 24 were regularly physically active. 

June 13, 2018
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