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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 18: Labelling & Describing an Object


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0:12

Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

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There may be questions about labelling and describing the parts of an object in the IELTS

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Test, so it's useful to know the language for this.

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Let's start by listening to a description of an object that is part of a robotic helicopter:

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This is what we call a hat mirror. Why is it called a hat mirror? Well, because of the

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shape. Look at it! It's shaped like a Mexican hat. And it comprises of two main mirrors

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- the panoramic mirror at the top here and the circular mirror down the bottom which

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does stereo imaging between this and the other mirror. Also there's the… a secondary

0:54

mirror so all the light from these two mirrors reflect up here and then back down into the

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hole where there's a video camera sitting inside the mirror.

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Why does he call it a hat mirror? Listen:

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Because of the shape. Look at it! It's shaped like a Mexican hat.

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The words 'shape', 'it's shaped' and 'like', which means 'similar to', are the clues. It

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simply looks like a Mexican hat.

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Because of the shape. Look at it! It's shaped like a Mexican hat.

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Let's see how the parts of this hat mirror are described.

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It comprises of two main mirrors - the panoramic mirror at the top here and the circular mirror

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down the bottom which does stereo imaging between this and the other mirror.

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It 'comprises' - it 'is made up of' - two main mirrors. Here, main is the word to notice.

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If there are two main mirrors, or 2 more important mirrors, there must be another mirror. Listen:

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And it comprises of two main mirrors - the panoramic mirror at the top here and the circular

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mirror down the bottom which does stereo imaging between this and the other mirror. Also there's

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the, a secondary mirror, so all the light from these two mirrors reflect up here and

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then back down into the hole where there's a video camera sitting inside the mirror.

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The other, 'less important' mirror is called a 'secondary' mirror. So there are 3 mirrors.

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What were the main mirrors called?

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And it comprises of two main mirrors - the panoramic mirror at the top here and the circular

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mirror down the bottom which does stereo imaging between this and the other mirror.

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They are the circular mirror and the panoramic mirror. Circular describes the shape of a

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circle. A CD has a circular shape.

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What does panoramic mean? Listen for the answer:

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So the hat mirror does a couple of things. First of all, it gives the helicopter all-round

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vision, so it gives the panoramic vision just like an insect so you can look at the horizon

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all around you.

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Panoramic is all-round vision or a view of a wide area, like this. People talk about

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a panoramic view.

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He tells you the position of the mirrors with the expressions 'at the top here' and 'down

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the bottom':

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And it comprises two main mirrors - the panoramic mirror at the top here and the circular mirror

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down the bottom.

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He also talks about the position of a video camera. Where is it?

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there's a video camera sitting inside the mirror.

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'Sitting inside the mirror'. Inside tells you that the camera is within the mirror.

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Now listen for the words that allow you to follow the direction of things:

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Also there's the, a secondary mirror, so all the light from these two mirrors reflect up

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here and then back down into the hole where there's a video camera sitting inside the

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mirror.

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The light 'reflects up here' and 'then back down into the hole'.

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He tells us the direction by saying 'up here' and 'down' and uses the word 'then' to tell

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us the order in which things happen. Listen again:

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so all the light from these two mirrors reflects up here and then back down into the hole where

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there's a video camera sitting inside the mirror.

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When introducing the parts of an object and describing something factual, the active voice

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and the simple present tense are often used. Our speaker says 'it comprises':

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And it comprises of two main mirrors - the panoramic mirror at the top here and the circular

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mirror down the bottom.

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In a more formal context such as a written description, you could use the passive voice

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and say 'It is comprised of 2 main mirrors'. But notice that you still use the present

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tense - it is comprised.

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Does he use the passive voice here?

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Look at it! It's shaped like a Mexican hat.

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It's shaped like a Mexican hat. He's using the passive voice - 'it is shaped'.

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He could have used the active voice and said:

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It looks like a Mexican hat.

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Or

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It resembles a Mexican hat.

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Now listen for how he describes what the light does. Does he use the active or passive voice?

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…so all the light from these two mirrors reflect up here and then back down into the

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hole.

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'All the light reflects' - that's the active voice.

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In formal writing this would use the passive voice, like this:

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The light from these 2 mirrors is reflected up to the top and then back down into the

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hole.

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Let's review the sort of language you need to listen for when an object is described.

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First there is shape.

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Things are described as square. The panels on this video display are square.

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Things that have a circle shape are described as round or circular. The bicycle wheels are

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round.

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Another common shape is a rectangle. Things that have this shape are called rectangular.

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The billiard table is a rectangle. It has a rectangular shape. The windows are rectangular.

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You'll often hear things described as oval such as these surfboards.

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The next type of language describes position, such as in front of: the people are in front

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of the building.

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Between. The slide goes here, between the lens and the mirror which provides the light.

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On the right or on the left. The dial on the right adjusts the focus.

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Let's look at another description, this time of a much simpler device:

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The naked flame of a candle can easily set fire to things. But it can be made safe by

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covering it with wire mesh. Its shape is a simple tube. The wire mesh is made of bronze

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so it doesn't melt. You can see that the flame goes up to the mesh and spreads below it but

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it won't go through.

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Again, the present tense is used - is, doesn't, see, goes, spreads and go. Listen:

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The wire mesh is made of bronze so it doesn't melt. Its shape is a simple tube. You can

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see that the flame goes up to the mesh and spreads below it but it won't go through.

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The present passive voice is used to say that the wire mesh is made of bronze.

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How would that be expressed in the active voice?

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The wire mesh is bronze, so it doesn't melt.

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Now listen for the position words:

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It goes over the candle and surrounds the flame to prevent it from igniting anything.

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'Over' and 'surrounds'. Something that surrounds is all the way around and something that is

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over, covers.

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It goes over the candle and surrounds the flame to prevent it from igniting anything.

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That's all for now.

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You can't know exactly what you are going to be asked about in the IELTS Test, but knowing

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how a description of an object is structured will help.

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To watch this episode again and all the Study English programs, visit our website.

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The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

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Good luck with your studies!

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