Referencing: avoiding repetition with pronouns

Pronouns help with overall coherence and cohesion in IELTS writing.

Having a cohesive and coherent essay is very important for your overall Band score In both writing tasks in IELTS, especially writing task 2. You should always make your writing as easy as possible for the reader to follow and it should be easy to understand. In the IELTS exam, the reader will be the examiner.

One way to improve your cohesion is to use pronouns to reduce repetition, this is mentioned in the marking criteria for writing under ‘Referencing’.

What is referencing ?

Referencing is when you refer back to something you stated earlier without having to constantly repeat it. You can do this by using pronouns, (they, them, this, their, it, these.. )  By the way, there is a false belief among many IELTS students (and IELTS teachers) that you should never repeat words.

You can repeat some words as long as it is not done too much, obviously you have to vary your vocabulary and grammar wherever possible, however, sometimes it is hard to find a good synonym or paraphrase.

Referencing is also assessed in the speaking part of the exam.

Lets have a look at the IELTS marking criteria writing task 2 for Coherence and Cohesion below:

ielts referencing pronouns

As you can see, it is clear from the marking criteria that you need to develop this skill to get over Band 6. Remember that the essay has to have a natural smooth flow and be easy for the reader to follow.

For Example

Here are two examples of the same paragraph taken from an essay about the problem of obesity and possible solutions. Red = pronouns  , blue = repetition

With referencing.

One of the reasons that people are becoming overweight these days is that they are eating more junk food, ready meals and convenience food rather than cooking healthy meals at home. This is because many people tend to lead a busy life and after a long day at work it is easier to just buy ready meals in the supermarket or get a take away. For instance, In the UK, sales of these types of foods have risen considerably since the 1990s, this is because busy people see cooking at home as time consuming. To tackle this issue the government should take steps to increase tax on high fat, high sugar or unhealthy foods, therefore, consumers would think twice about the foods they consume, which could lead to them losing weight.

Without referencing.

One of the reasons that people are becoming overweight these days is that people are eating more junk food, ready meals and convenience food rather than cooking healthy meals at home. People are eating more junk food and ready meals because many people tend to lead a busy life and after a long day at work, instead of cooking at home most people prefer to buy ready meals in the supermarket or get a take away. For instance, In the UK, sales of take aways and ready meals have risen considerably since the 1990s, The urge to buy ready meals and convenience foods is because busy people see cooking at home as time consuming. To tackle the problem of people being overweight, the government should take steps to increase tax on high fat, high sugar or unhealthy foods, therefore, consumers would think twice about the foods consumers consume, which could lead to consumers losing weight.

So you can see that the second example above is ugly and hard for the reader, the first example with the pronouns is more concise and cohesive.

For Example:

One of the reasons that people are becoming overweight these days is that they are eating more junk food.

  • people – they

Therefore consumers would think twice about the foods they consume, which could lead to them losing weight.

  • consumers – they , them

Using relative pronouns

You can also use relative pronouns to join sentences, these make relative clauses.

 Words like: who / that / which / when / where… For example,  which of these sentences are better?

1. In some countries the government invests a lot of money in public transportation. Investing money in public transportation leads to less cars on the road and helps to reduce CO2 emissions..

2. In some countries the government invests a lot of money in public transportation. This leads to less cars on the road and helps to reduce CO2 emissions.

3. In some countries the government invests a lot of money in public transportation, which leads to less cars on the road and helps to reduce CO2 emissions.

  • The first sentence shows poor referencing,
  • The second sentence is good but could be improved.
  • The third sentence is much better and shows stronger grammar.

Exercise

Decide the best pronoun or relative pronoun, add them to the sentences below

they / it / their / they / this / our / they / it / which / they

1. Property prices tend to be very high in big cities, _______  means that many people cannot afford to buy a house.

2. Some people believe that children should not be given homework because _____ is not necessary for ______ education. ____  think that teachers should focus on more creative ways to teach subjects.

3. One important advantage of labour saving machines and household appliances is that ______ are more efficient and save time, because housework takes up a lot of time and energy.

4. I think ____ is very important that the governmnet maintains and restores old buildings as ______ are a reflection of _____ cultural heritage.

5. Many old buildings protected by law are part of a nation’s history. Some people think _______ should be knocked down and replaced by news ones.

6. Violent crime is a concern in many societies and some hold the view that _______  cannot be solved.

 

 

Answers:

1. Property prices tend to be very high in big cities, which means that many people cannot afford to buy a house.

2. Some people believe that children should not be given homework because it is not necessary for their education. They think that teachers should focus on more creative ways to teach subjects.

3. One important advantage of labour saving machines and household appliances is that they are more efficient and save time, because housework takes up a lot of time and energy.

4. I think it is very important that the governmnet maintains and restores old buildings as they are a reflection of our cultural heritage.

5. Many old buildings protected by law are part of a nation’s history. Some people think they should be knocked down and replaced by news ones.

6. Violent crime is a concern in many societies and some hold the view that this cannot be solved.

 


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