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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 4: Sentence Types


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0:12

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

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One of the criteria used to assess your writing in the IELTS test is called grammatical range

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and accuracy. The examiners will look at the number of mistakes you make, and also at the

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range of sentence types you use.

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What is the range of sentence types? There is a simple sentence, like this:

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Pollution is a problem.

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This example shows you the basic structure. A subject - pollution, a verb - is, and the

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object - a problem. A simple sentence can have more words than this. You can add adjectives:

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Pollution is a serious problem.

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Air pollution is a serious problem.

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And you can add information with a preposition like 'in'

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Air pollution is a serious problem in the city.

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Or 'from'

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Air pollution from cars is a serious problem in the city.

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So a simple sentence doesn't have to be short or simple.

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Most of the time the thing that's simple about simple sentences is the idea they express.

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Listen to some typical simple sentences in this piece about an old theatre:

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It is a lovely theatre. It has excellent acoustics. It's a classic 3 tiered, horse-shoe shaped

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auditorium.

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You tend to use simple sentences for straightforward information.

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It is a lovely theatre to work in.

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It has excellent acoustics.

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You can add detail, but the idea is not complicated. Listen again:

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It's a classic 3 tiered, horse-shoe shaped auditorium.

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But it's best to use a variety of sentence types and not just a list of simple sentences.

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Listen to this:

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The foundation stone was laid in 1834 and the theatre opened in 1837.

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You can join two simple sentences together with 'and'.

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The two sentences are: The foundation stone was laid in 1834.

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The theatre opened in 1837.

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Joining them with 'and' gives you a compound sentence.

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Listen again:

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The foundation stone was laid in 1834 and the theatre opened in 1837.

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But what type of sentence do you use if you want to say something a little more complicated?

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Listen:

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Although the Theatre Royal has some of the disadvantages of this sort of theatre, such

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as the columns which people don't like sitting behind, it still has atmosphere.

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This sort of sentence is called a complex sentence. A complex sentence isn't just 2

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sentences joined together. Some parts of a complex sentence might not be a complete idea.

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For instance, the first part of this sentence is quite long with a subject, verb and object,

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but it isn't complete:

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Although the Theatre Royal has some of the disadvantages such as the columns which people

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don't like sitting behind …

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That doesn't express a complete thought. It needs a simple sentence to finish it:

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it still has atmosphere.

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If you take the detail out, you have a structure like this:

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Although the theatre has disadvantages, it has atmosphere.

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'Although the theatre has disadvantages' is what is called a dependent clause.

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It depends on a simple sentence - it has atmosphere - to become complete and form a complex sentence.

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Here is another complex sentence.

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When you stand in the middle of the stage, you can talk to everybody.

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When you stand in the middle of the stage - that's a dependent clause. It needs another

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simple sentence or independent clause to make sense:

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When you stand in the middle of the stage, you can talk to everybody.

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You can even change the order of the clauses and say:

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You can talk to everybody when you stand in the middle of the stage.

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Apart from although and when, some of the words used to create dependent clauses like

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this are: which, that, because, after, and where.

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Knowing how to use them is important. It's something you should practise.

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There is one other type of sentence, which is a combination of compound and complex sentences

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like this:

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When the theatre was first built, it was said to look like a 2 storey house and on the outside

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of the building you can see the stone window sills.

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Normally people use a range of sentence types as we've seen with the man talking about the

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theatre. It's your ability to use these various sentence types that the examiners notice.

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Listen as he finishes with a complex sentence, a simple sentence and a complex/ compound

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sentence:

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If I could sum up this theatre in a few words, I suppose I could call it an international

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theatre star! This is the oldest theatre in Australia. It's been operating for a hundred

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and 59 years and, who knows, it might still be here in another one hundred and fifty nine

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years.

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His first sentence was complex. Sentences with 'if' are mostly complex because an 'if'

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clause depends on another sentence to make sense. Listen:

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If I could sum up this theatre in a few words, I suppose I could call it an international

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theatre star!

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Remember that a simple sentence can consist of a subject - this, a verb - is, and an object

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- the oldest theatre in Australia. Listen:

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This is the oldest theatre in Australia.

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A compound sentence is two sentences joined by 'but' or, as here 'and':

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It's been operating for one hundred and fifty nine years and who knows, it might still be

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here in another one hundred and fifty nine years.

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There are 2 sentences here joined by 'and'. The second part is complex with the dependent

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clause 'who knows'.

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who knows, it might still be here in another hundred and fifty nine years.

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So we've seen what can go right. What can go wrong?

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A simple sentence must have a verb. Is this a sentence?

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The house in the country.

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No. It looks like a sentence but there is no verb. Let's add a verb.

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The house is in the country.

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That's a simple sentence.

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The main problem people have with compound sentences is a mistake called a run-on sentence.

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It's when 2 simple sentences are run together without using a conjunction such as 'and'

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or 'but':

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Look at this:

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The theatre is small it is beautiful.

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That's a run-on sentence. It's either 2 simple sentences:

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The theatre is small. It is beautiful.

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Or it's a compound sentence:

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The theatre is small, but it is beautiful.

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So let's recap. A simple sentence is basically a subject - Pollution - a verb - is - and

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an object - a problem. It's also called an independent clause.

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A compound sentence is two independent clauses joined by a conjunction such as and, but or

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so.

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A complex sentence is a combination of a dependent clause or clauses with an independent clause.

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It's a good way to express some of your ideas in an essay.

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Be careful. Using too many simple sentences can make your writing choppy and dull and

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too many long sentences can make it difficult to follow your ideas. So use both.

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That's all for now. To find more information about sentence types visit our Study English

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website at: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

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Good luck with your studies.

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