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If you wanted to add the following detail to this text, where would you place it and why? Be prepared to justify your decision to a partner.

This wasteland comprises demolition sites and vacant plots usually owned by the local authority.

The Wildlife of Britain's Wasteland

Many of Britain's industrial towns and cities are surrounded by wil­derness, which sometimes has ac­quired the official designation of "urban common", but all of them have wasteland within their bounds which may be no less deserving of such recognition. Often they are left unused for years at a time, except, that is, for all those infor­mal human activities, like adven­ture play, gypsy encampments, bonfires, dumping rubbish, and grazing goats, that are not allowed where the grass is mown and the trees are carefully planted. These impromptu "unofficial" urban commons often have a natural his­tory that is both rich and unique to a particular area: a blend of wild animals and plants with "escapes" from gardens long gone. Citizens should see such areas as an asset, worthy of conservation.

Many types of detail may be introduced within the general-specific structure. In the text above we find details of definition ('This wasteland comprises . . .'); details of use ('Often they are left unused . . .'); and details of composition ('a blend of wild animals ...').

Task 7

Discuss the information about Mauritius in the boxes with two or three other students. Decide how it can be organized in a general-specific pattern. Then use the information in the boxes to write a description of Mauritius, suitable for a secondary school textbook. Begin with a generalization.

Mauritius *****

At a glance ****












Multi-party democracy




Food imports alone

account for 25% of the

total import bill

Slowly improving

Wealth still concentrated amongst

elite but no absolute poverty



72% for No political prisoners.

women Absence of political and

and 86% communal violence.

for men Over 30 papers and

magazines in publication


66 years

Using grammar in writing

In written English, the order in which groups of words appear makes a difference, sometimes a dramatic difference, to meaning. In speaking, we can make our meaning clear by repeating the same idea in different words, or by putting voice stress on certain words, but when we write, the words as they appear must be clear. Sometimes it is difficult to decide what word order to use, especially when referring to several things in the same sentence. Look at this example:

The morning when we were due to leave came at last.

The morning came at last when we were due to leave.

In speech, you could say either sentence and the hearer would probably know what you meant. In writing, however, you cannot take such a chance on being understood — only the first sentence is absolutely clear.

A simple principle to help you decide on the order of word groups is:

What is most closely related in meaning should be closest within the sentence.

Прямая соединительная линия 10Прямая соединительная линия 9Прямая соединительная линия 8Task 8

Explain to a partner the differences in meaning between the two sentences in each of the following pairs.

  1. Mary opened the door for the postman in a nightdress. Mary, in a nightdress, opened the door for the postman.

  2. We rent rooms on the beach here. We rent rooms here on the beach.

  3. By far the most widespread chemical elements are oxygen and silicon in the Earth's crust.

By far the most widespread chemical elements in the Earth's crust are oxygen and silicon.

Sometimes more than one word-group order may be acceptable. In the sentence 'I watched him enter the bank through my binoculars', the correct order may be either:

  1. Through my binoculars I watched him enter the bank. or

  2. I watched him through my binoculars enter the bank.

Here 1 is better because 'I watched him' is closely related to both the other word groups. However, 1 gives emphasis to 'my binoculars' rather than 'I watched him', because the first part of an English sentence is considered emphatic: if you wanted to emphasize 'I watched him' you would choose 2.

Task 9

Underneath the following six sentences you will find six groups of words. Correctly add a different word group to each of the six sentences, making sure you follow the principle of word-group order given above.

  1. He could not find a job.

  2. In underdeveloped countries, the shortfall in food production in relation to population growth increases more and more.

  3. The use of robots may change the workers' views.

  4. People who tell you what you already know are bores.

  5. The Trustees have decided to make available a sum of money for a traveling scholarship.

  6. Coale and Hoover estimate that the proportion of children under fifteen in India in 1984 will be a third of the total population of the subcontinent.

in increasing numbers taking a low estimate only

being over fifty such as those on the Indian subcontinent

at great length each year

When making decisions about the order of words in a sentence, it is also necessary to plan how the sentence will fit in with the preceding ones. Look at these two versions of the same text.

  1. John was born in 1930. He lost his job this year. Being over 50, he cannot easily find another.

  2. John was born in 1930. He lost his job this year. He cannot easily find another, being over 50.

Text 1 is preferable to text 2 for two reasons:

  • 'Being over 50' is known information (born in 1930) and known information is usually placed at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Text 2 has every sentence beginning with John; it lacks variety.

Task 10

Add the following expressions to the text below. The letter before each expression tells you to which sentence it belongs. Punctuate the completed text as necessary by adding capital letters, commas, etc.

  1. as Egypt's population continues to expand

  2. from i960 to 1976

  3. (both birth and death rates are lower than in rural areas)

  4. in the areas

  5. meanwhile

  6. by the year 2000

g) by 2025 h) but

Cairo Population Outlook

  1. The urban centres suffer the additional burden of mi­gration from the rural areas. The percentage of Egypt's population living in Cairo rose from 14% to 22%, about half of the country's urban popula­tion, (c) The natural increase in Cairo is 2.5% annually, with migration adding another 0.6%. (d) The bulk of Cairo's growth has come around the city's boundaries, (e) Popula­tion growth in the city's centre dropped from 4.1% in the early 1960's to under 2% by the mid 70's as residential areas gave way to commercial and indus­trial development. (f) If present fertility and migration rates continue, the population of Cairo will almost double to 17.1 million, (g) Cairo would bulge with a staggering 39 mil­lion people - more than Egypt's entire population in 1975. (h) If an average of two children is achieved by 2000 the city's population would be 13.7, reaching 18.7 million by 2025.


A Using the information in this text, write a description of the findings of the study. Try to use a general-specific structure.

Cholesterol: the killer is convicted

A 10-year study of 3806 typical American men has shown that a cut in the cholesterol in their diet has saved lives.

Doctors have argued for years that America's predilection for food that is high in saturated fats is striking down men and women in their prime with heart disease, the country's biggest killer. High levels of cholesterol in the blood coat blood vessels with plaque, which causes angina and prompts surgery that costs billions of dollars each year.

But the hypothesis that low-fat diets and drugs could save lives had never been carefully tested - until the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute began its study 10 years ago.

One group of subjects embarked on a low-fat diet supplemented by cholestyramine, a drug that attacks cholesterol, taken several times a day. The other group also dieted but, unknowingly, took a placebo instead of the drug. After one year, cholesterol levels dropped among both groups, but eventually the drug easily outperformed the diet, reducing the risk of heart disease by 19 per cent, and heart attacks by 24 percent.

(New Scientist)

B Over half the world's rainforests have disappeared forever. The rest are in danger of disappearing in our lifetime. But rainforests have many advantages. Write a text on the topic 'How rainforests help man', using the outline information in the diagram tree (and remembering how information is classified). Define any terms you did not already know, the first time you use them.

C In groups of three, from the following list choose a generalization you feel you can support:

No man is an island.

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