Describing charts and graphs in Academic Writing Task 1
Writing
Describing charts and graphs in Academic Writing Task 1

When you try to describe a chart or a graph, quite often you're so worried about getting the facts and the data correct that you forget to focus on the language and the grammar you are using. Does this sound familiar?  I hope this blog helps you to focus on the language and grammar you use in this part of the IELTS test.  Language Let’s look at language first. Graphs and charts show / compare facts.  Example: The two graphs show the number of people employed by the company in 2000 and 2010.  The graph compares average working hours in the UK and the US.  When we are talking about the figures or statistics in the chart or graph, we can use – suggest that / indicate.  Example: The statistics suggest that people in rural areas are healthier.  These figures indicate that the company is growing in size each year. If figures go up - we use increase or rise. If figures go down - we use decrease, fall, drop.  If figures stay the same - we use remain steady or show little change or show no change. If figures go up and down a lot - we use fluctuate.    DO NOT use these verbs to describe a chart or graph: ❌ demonstrate  ❌ display   ❌ tell   Grammar Now, let’s move on to looking at the grammar you use when describing charts and graphs.  It’s really important to look at the dates in the chart or graph.  If the dates are in the past you will need to use the past simple.  For example In 2002 the figures increased from 25% to 30%.  Temperatures fell in May.  The price of oil remained steady during that period.  The cost of electricity fluctuated during those five years.  We can also change these verbs into nouns. You do this by starting the sentence with: There was / were … (Click to enlarge) If the dates start in the past but go up to a date in the present then you will need to use the present perfect. So, if there is a connection between the past and now, you will need to use have + past participle.  Let’s adapt the examples above to show you how to do this. For example The figures have increased from 25% to 30%.  Temperatures have fallen over the last few years.  The price of oil has remained steady during this period.  The cost of electricity has fluctuated over the past five years.  Again, we can change these verbs into nouns. This time you need to start with There has been … (Click to enlarge) I hope you have found this useful, we’ll be covering more common mistakes in later blogs so please come back for more.  Liz 

Liz Marqueiro

29 June, 2020

Describing charts and graphs in Academic Writing Task 1

Describing charts and graphs in Academic Writing Task 1

When you try to describe a chart or a graph, quite often you're so worried about getting the facts and the data correct that you forget to focus on the language and the grammar you are using. Does this sound familiar? 

I hope this blog helps you to focus on the language and grammar you use in this part of the IELTS test. 

Language

Let’s look at language first.

Graphs and charts show / compare facts

Example:

  • The two graphs show the number of people employed by the company in 2000 and 2010. 
  • The graph compares average working hours in the UK and the US. 

When we are talking about the figures or statistics in the chart or graph, we can use – suggest that / indicate

Example:

  • The statistics suggest that people in rural areas are healthier. 
  • These figures indicate that the company is growing in size each year.

If figures go up - we use increase or rise.

If figures go down - we use decrease, fall, drop

If figures stay the same - we use remain steady or show little change or show no change.

If figures go up and down a lot - we use fluctuate

 

DO NOT use these verbs to describe a chart or graph:

demonstrate  ❌ display   ❌ tell

 

Grammar

Now, let’s move on to looking at the grammar you use when describing charts and graphs. 

It’s really important to look at the dates in the chart or graph. 

If the dates are in the past you will need to use the past simple. 

For example

  • In 2002 the figures increased from 25% to 30%. 
  • Temperatures fell in May. 
  • The price of oil remained steady during that period. 
  • The cost of electricity fluctuated during those five years. 

We can also change these verbs into nouns. You do this by starting the sentence with: There was / were

Grammar differences Verb and Noun

(Click to enlarge)

If the dates start in the past but go up to a date in the present then you will need to use the present perfect. So, if there is a connection between the past and now, you will need to use have + past participle. 

Let’s adapt the examples above to show you how to do this.

For example

  • The figures have increased from 25% to 30%. 
  • Temperatures have fallen over the last few years. 
  • The price of oil has remained steady during this period. 
  • The cost of electricity has fluctuated over the past five years. 

Again, we can change these verbs into nouns. This time you need to start with There has been

Grammar - Verb and Noun 2

(Click to enlarge)

I hope you have found this useful, we’ll be covering more common mistakes in later blogs so please come back for more. 

Liz 

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Common Mistakes at IELTS Advanced

This book highlights the real mistakes that students make in the IELTS test and shows how to avoid them. Each unit targets a key problem area and is based on analysis of thousands of scripts from real test takers. Clear explanations and exercises show you how to use the language accurately. You can check what you’ve learned in the units with regular tests. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Skill bar

Stay up-to-date