A summary noun summarises an idea which has been expressed earlier in a paragraph; either within the same sentence or in a previous sentence. Here are some examples from the UNDP text, “Privatising Basic Utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa: The MDG Impact”. The summary nouns are highlighted in yellow, and the text they refer back to are highlighted in blue. The notes below each quotation give more explanation.
Notice that these summary nouns are often preceded by:
this + SINGULAR NOUN
these + PLURAL NOUN
such a + SINGULAR COUNTABLE NOUN
such + UNCOUNTABLE NOUN or PLURAL COUNTABLE NOUN.
The “reforms” referred to here are changes in the approach governments took to providing public services, from a review, to proposals for re-structuring, to a demand for privatisation. This is a brief summary of changes in attitudes, from public ownership and management to a call for privatisation.
Here “jumping to a conclusion” means judging a situation or coming to a decision without having examined the evidence sufficiently. Here the authors suggest that policymakers and donors often incorrectly assume that, because higher tariffs for water are paid by the poor, the poor can afford them. In a different part of the text they explain that some poor people are forced to use unsafe and unhygienic (but free) water sources, because they cannot afford the high tariffs, leading to the spread of disease.
The “two groups” are:
consumers who do not pay, because they cannot afford to
consumers who do not pay for other reasons (presumably they do not want to pay).
Here we have two examples.
In the first example the authors show their disapproval of disconnecting consumers from services by referring to them as “harsh methods”. In the second example the term “families” is used for stylistic reasons, to avoid repeating the word “households”.
In this extract “this approach” refers to the change in approach to water privatisation taken by many governments, scaling back from full-scale privatisation to more modest involvement by the private sector.
In the next Step, you will practise choosing suitable summary nouns to express different ideas, depending on the context.
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