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Getting Your Grammar Right

The writing component of the PTE Test assesses your ability to produce written English for an academic environment.
© Griffith University

The writing component of the PTE Test assesses your ability to produce written English in an academic environment.

Using the correct grammar and demonstrating an appropriate range of structures are skills that are scored in many test items. Grammar is assessed by checking the test taker has used correct language with respect to word order and form and does not make mistakes that lead to misunderstandings. To improve your score in written test items, you need to edit your work carefully to correct any basic grammar mistakes by checking subject-verb agreement, verb tense and use of articles.

Subject-verb agreement

Subject-verb agreement means that the subject of a sentence (such as ‘I’ or ‘she’) agrees with the main verb of the sentence. The basic principle is actually quite simple, as long as you can identify the subject. One of the most common challenges is the distance between the subject and the main verb.

For example:

Newton’s first law of motion states that a body in motion stays in motion.
In this sentence, even though the noun ‘motion’ is closer to the main verb ‘states’, the subject is the noun ‘law’ which appears earlier in the sentence. Sometimes you need to look back in the sentence to identify the subject; don’t assume that the subject is the noun just before the verb.
Watch this video to learn more about subject-verb agreement and complete the interactive practice exercises.

Verb tense and aspect

Talking about the past, present and future using the correct tense is essential for a good mark in grammar.
In grammar, the word ‘tense’ refers to the time period in which the verb of a sentence places an action. Like many languages, English has verb forms which correspond to: past and present. Strictly speaking, English doesn’t have a future tense, but we do have many ways of talking about the future such as the modal verb ‘will’ and structures like ‘going to’. You are probably already quite familiar with these tenses and verb forms, but in addition to this basic idea of ‘tense’, there is also the important idea of ‘aspect’. In English, there are three aspects: simple, continuous and perfect.
Watch this video to learn more about tense and aspect. Then, test your understanding with the interactive practice exercises.

Articles

Articles (a, an, the) are one of the most difficult features of English. In fact, people may spend years studying English and still make mistakes.
When deciding which of these articles to use, look at each noun in your sentence and ask yourself three questions:
  • Is the noun countable or uncountable?
  • If it is countable, is the noun singular or plural?
  • Is the noun definite or indefinite?
If the noun is countable, singular and indefinite, you use a or an.
If the noun is countable, plural and indefinite or if it is uncountable and indefinite – there is no article. For all definite nouns, you use the article the.
You will find useful information on articles in this video. Watch the video and try the interactive practice exercises.
To get maximum marks in written test items, you need to show consistent control of complex grammar with minimal errors. This means you need to not only master basic grammar, but also attempt more sophisticated structures, such as relative clauses and noun phrases.

Relative clauses

Relative clauses describe, define, identify, or give more information about nouns using a relative pronoun, such as which, who, whose, that, where or when.
A defining relative clause is used when something is being defined, or the sentence would not be true without the relative clause.
The exam that/which caused the most anxiety amongst the students was statistics.
Defining relative clauses are a useful way of condensing information and avoiding unnecessary repetition in your writing. You can see in the example below the repetition of “the exam”.
The exam caused anxiety amongst students. The exam was a statistics exam.
A non-defining relative clause provides additional information. The commas in these sentences show that the relative clause is extra information and not essential to understanding the sentence.
A significant number of students, who were especially anxious, failed the statistic exam.

Your task

Below is an extract from an Essay answer. The test taker has made one grammatical error in each sentence. Identify and correct the mistakes by rewriting the answer in the comments below. See how your answer compares with the others.
Overconsumption in the modern world is the growing trend and is rising considerably especially in industrialised nations. This movement extends to a wide range of products which at one time was built to be repaired and reused. Now they were simply tossed aside to make way for a brand-new version as they are deemed too expensive to repair. The main reason for overconsumption are complex and is linked to both a country’s and individual’s prosperity. They are also driven by the need to satisfy personal and social wants, who are influenced by branding and marketing. A further factor is the rise of modern machinery, which can produce goods cheaper and more efficiently, than before.

We have provided hints on this task in the Downloads section and will post the answer in the comments at the end of Week 2.

References

Pearson. (2019). Score Guide (Version 11). Retrieved from here.

© Griffith University
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