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IELTS Writing: Numbers and Pie Charts

September 4, 2016

 

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Hi there. My name is Emma, and in today's video, I am going to talk

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a lot about the IELTS test, specifically writing task one.

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I'm going to teach you about a certain thing

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you might see on the IELTS, and that's a pie chart. I'm going to explain what a pie chart

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is, and ways to talk about pie charts in order to improve your vocabulary mark for the IELTS.

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Many students get really, really confused when they see graphs on the IELTS, and they

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get really confused trying to talk about numbers, specifically. So, in this video, I'm also

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going to talk about: How do we describe numbers when we're looking at pie charts?

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How do we describe percentages? You know, and how can we

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make our vocabulary very varied? Okay?

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So, let's get started.

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The first thing I want to do is talk about: What is a pie chart?

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So, I have here three different types of graphs.

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Three different graphs you might see on the IELTS, in the

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writing section, in the very first part of the writing section. Okay? You might see a

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picture like this, like this, or like this. So, one of these looks like a pie, something

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you eat. Which one do you think looks the most like pie?

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If you said this one, you are correct.

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This is what we are going to be talking about today. We can call it either a "pie chart"

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or a "pie graph". Both are correct. You might also see this one, this one is called

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a line graph; or you might see this, which is called a bar graph.

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So, let me write that on the board. So, "pie chart", "line graph", and "bar graph".

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You might also see a process,

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a diagram, or maybe even a table on the IELTS. But for today, we are only going to be focusing

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on pie charts.

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Okay, so what is a pie chart? A pie chart shows us percentages. Okay? So, if we look

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down here, I have here what I spend my money on. Okay? I want you to imagine each month,

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all the money I make, all my salary, this is what I spend it on.

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I spend some of it on rent, I spend some of it on food,

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I spend some of it on transport or transportation,

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and I spend some of it on fun. Okay? So, on the IELTS, you might have to describe something

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like this. It might be more complicated. Sometimes you might actually have two pie graphs or

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pie charts that you might have to compare and describe, but in this case, let's start

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out a little bit easier.

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So, I want you to imagine you're writing the IELTS, and you've been told to describe this

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pie chart. What are you going to say about it? Okay?

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Well, the very first thing you should do is you should think about: What does it all mean?

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And by that, I mean: Think about

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how much percent is each thing? Okay? So, for example, for cost of living, how much

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is this? What size does this look like? Although we can't be sure, because I'm not the best

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artist and this is not a perfect circle, I would say this is about 50%.

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Okay? And this, what does it look like to you? Maybe 25%.

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So, food is around 25%. Transport we might

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say... Let's say 15%.

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And fun, maybe 10%. Although, we're not sure. So, on the IELTS

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you might see something like this. You might actually have the percentages written, so

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you already know what it is, or you might actually have numbers. Okay? So, this might

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actually be money, and so it might actually say, like, $500 to rent, $200 to food, and

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so forth. Okay, but the first thing to do is really think about: What are the percentages, here?

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Okay, so to begin a sentence when we're talking about the pie chart, these are three different

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sentences that are very great... Really, really good sentences to use on the IELTS when you're

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talking about pie graphs.

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The first one is: "According to the chart", you can also say:

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"We can see from the chart", or "We can see from the pie chart", "The chart shows that",

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okay? So these are good ways to open up the sentence, and then to actually talk about

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what you see here.

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Okay, so we're now going to talk a little bit about: How do we talk about percentages?

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So, I want you, again, to look at rent. We decided this is about 50%. So, which of these

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three ways can I write this on the IELTS? Should I write it: "fifty percent", should

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I write it "fifty per cent", with a space, should I write it "50%" as a number, or should

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I write it as "half", because 50% is half the total?

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What do you think is the best way to write it?

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Well, the truth is all of these are good. Okay? You will see percent written

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as one word, and also two words; both of these are fine. You can write it as a number, or

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you can also write it as half. These are all great ways to write about pie charts. So,

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let's get a little bit more into how to talk about numbers and pie charts.

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Okay, so let's look at some good sentences you can use when describing numbers and percents.

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So, again, we have the same pie chart. We have rent at 50%, food is about a quarter,

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transportation is about 15%, and fun is at about 10%. So, I've written up some sentences

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to describe rent. Okay? So, what I can say is: "Rent makes up half of the living expenses."

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And notice the verb I use, here. "Makes up", okay? So, this is a phrasal verb, "makes up"

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is great to use when you're talking about pie charts. If I wanted to talk about food,

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I could say: "Food makes up 25% of the living expenses.",

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"Transport makes up 15% of the living expenses." Okay?

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We can also change the sentence around, so that instead of "half" being in the middle,

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we start with the percent. "Half of the living expenses are rent." So, this is essentially

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the same sentence, but reversed. "Rent makes up half of the living expenses.",

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"Half of the living expenses are rent." We can also say: "Rent accounts for 50% of the total",

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or "50% of the living expenses". So, again, we have a really, really nice verb that's

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great whenever you're describing a pie chart: "accounts for". It means the exact same as

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"makes up", okay? Could I change this to "half"? Yes. Could I write: "fifty percent", not using

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numbers, but with letters? Yes, I could spell out "fifty percent". It's all the same; it

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means the same thing.

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There is, however, one thing you should be aware of. In English, we do not like to start

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sentences with numbers. So, for example: "50% of the living expenses is rent." This is...

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This is not good. We don't like to start out with a number.

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It would be better to actually write it out. Okay?

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Just like that. Okay, excellent. So, again, these are great sentences

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to use when you're writing about pie charts.

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So, now let's look at some ways to talk about numbers. We've already talked about 50%, we've

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talked about how it can be called half, and how... The different spellings of 50%. So,

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now, let's look at some other different ways to talk about percents. I have down here the

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word "a third". So, if this is my pie chart, a third-there are three pieces-would be about

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this, which is around 30 to 35% is a third. Okay?

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I can also talk about "a quarter", which would be about 25%. Okay? If we looked up here,

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food is about a quarter. We can also talk about "two-thirds", this is where it gets

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a little bit confusing. So, a third is, like I said, we have one out of three. Here we

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have two out of three, which is about 66%. So, two-thirds would look like... One-third,

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two-third. Okay? So, this is one-third and this is two-thirds.

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When we talk about quarters, we can also talk about three quarters, where instead of talking

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about this little piece, we're talking about the rest of the pie. So, whereas this is one

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quarter, this in red is three quarters. Okay? We can also talk about "a fifth".

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So, if the pie has five parts, 20% would be a fifth.

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Okay? So, in red is a fifth. Or we can also

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talk about "a sixth". If we have one, two, three, four, five, six - six slices, six equal

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slices, if I colour in one of these, that becomes a sixth.

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Now, one thing to note. When we talked about "half", we don't use an article. We don't

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say: "a half". Okay? Notice there is no "a" here. When we talk about "a third", "a quarter",

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"a sixth", "a fifth" - we do have "a" there. Okay? So, you don't need "a" with "half",

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but you do need it if you're talking about "a third", "a quarter", "a fifth", or "a sixth".

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Okay, excellent. So, now let's talk a little more about percents.

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Okay, so I made a little bit of a mistake in one of my drawings. A fifth, I think I

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drew actually just four slices. Here, there's one, two, three, four, five.

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So, if I coloured in one of these,

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this slice would be a fifth. Okay?

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So, now what we're going to do is we're going to talk about another way to boost your vocabulary

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mark when you're talking about numbers and pie charts. So, I have here a new pie chart.

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This is about what I like to drink, and what I drank today. Okay? So, if you look over

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here, 42% of what I drank today was tea. I love tea. 25% of what I drank was coffee,

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and 33% of what I drank was milk. To be honest, I also drank water and juice, but to make

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this simple, we'll just stick with these three. Okay?

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So, imagine you get a pie chart like this. Now, again, on the IELTS, usually they're

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a little bit more complicated. But just to learn from, imagine you were given a pie chart

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like this. How could we describe it? Well, again, a great sentence to use is:

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"According to the pie chart", or "As we can see from the pie chart, tea", okay? It says here 42%.

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"Tea accounts for 42 percent of the total". Okay? And again, if I want, I can write it

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as a number, I can even go like this and get rid of the word "percent". There's different

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ways I can do it. They're all correct.

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Now, one thing you can do is you can add words in order to... To be a little bit more specific,

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and to help your vocabulary score. So, I have some words here:

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"exactly", "precisely", "around", "approximately", "nearly", and so forth.

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So, these can help you with your vocabulary mark

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to get a higher score. So, if I'm talking about tea at 42% and I say it's 42%, I'm being

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exact. This is exactly what it is. So, I can use the word:

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"According to the pie chart, tea accounts for exactly 42% of the total."

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I could also use the word "precisely":

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"According to the pie chart, tea accounts for precisely 42% of the total."

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Now, what if I'm just looking at this and 42% is too specific; I just want to be a little

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bit more general? Well, if I don't want to be exact, I can use the words: "around", "approximately",

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"nearly", "close to", "roughly".

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So, in this case, I'm not giving the exact number; I'm

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giving near that number. So, instead of saying 42%, which tea is,

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I can change this to 40%,

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if I add one of these words, because it's not 40% exactly, but it's close enough. So,

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I can say: "According to the pie chart, tea accounts for around 40% of the total", or

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"nearly 40% of the total", "close to 40% of the total".

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One thing to note, here, on the IELTS spelling is very, very important. So, if you use the

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word "approximately", make sure you can spell it, because I know this is a tough word. If

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you think you're going to panic and make a mistake, use "close to", it's easier, and

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not only that, but you actually get-one, two-two words added to the word count for this. So,

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you could say: "close to 40%".

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We could also say, if we're not being exact, we can say: "slightly above" or "just over".

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42% is a bit more than 40%. So, we can say:

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"According to the pie chart, tea accounts for slightly above 40%",

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or "just over 40%". Okay? So, again, this shows that not only

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do you understand the numbers, but you're also using some very good vocabulary.

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Now, imagine if I estimated a little bit higher, and I said this was... It's around 45%.

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What I can say is that:

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"According to the pie chart, tea accounts for slightly below 45%",

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or "just under 45%". Okay?

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So, these are all great words to use to add when you're talking about

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percentages. Now let's talk about... A little bit more about percentages.

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Okay, so now let's look at some general ways to talk about percent. We've already talked

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about specific, using words like "50%", "half", "a third". What about if you don't really

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want to speak so specifically? Well, I have here some different expressions you can use.

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So, before we get to those, I have a new pie chart. Now, again, you will not see something

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this simple on the IELTS. This is very simple to help you learn. So, imagine if this red,

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little slice, if this represents coffee, and imagine if this green represents tea, and

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this is how much... You know, how much I drink in a day. So, I drink very little coffee,

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and I drink lots and lots of tea. Okay? And you have to describe this. So, instead of

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saying the specifics... Okay? You know, what we can tell from this is that this is a small

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amount, coffee is a small amount, and tea is a very large amount.

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So if we wanted to talk about this, we could use the words: "a small fraction". So, this is a small fraction.

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"A small fraction of the total is coffee." Okay? We could also say: "a small percentage".

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We're not saying specifically what it is. "A small percentage is coffee.",

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"A small number is coffee.", "The lowest percentage is coffee.", "A very small percentage is coffee.",

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and "A very small proportion is coffee." These, essentially, all mean the same thing. They're

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different ways to say a small amount. Okay? Or a small percent.

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So, we can also change up the sentence structure a little bit. Okay? So, for example, if I

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start with coffee, I can say:

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"According to the pie chart, coffee makes up a small fraction of the total.",

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"Coffee makes up a small percentage of the total.", "Coffee makes up a small number of the total.",

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"Coffee makes up the lowest percentage of the total.",

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"Coffee makes up a very small percentage of the total.", and finally,

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"Coffee makes up a very small proportion of the total."

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I can also add the percent, if I want to, here. Okay? So it is good to be specific where

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you can, so you can always put in brackets, and the actual number. Imagine if coffee is

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10%. At the end of the sentence, I can put: "(10%)". Or, I can write the word "at 10%".

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I could actually write out the word "ten percent", and say: "of the total at ten percent". Or,

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if they didn't give me any percents, but imagine if this says two cups a day, and this says

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20 cups a day, what I could also do is write down specifically if they gave you a number,

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