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Countables and uncountables with numbers in task 1

In IELTS task 1 you need to know how to deal with numbers. Very often you will want to summarise them by using language such as

  • much
  • many
  • few
  • less

Here I quickly show you how to avoid some very common problems with these words, I give you a bonus more advanced task filling in the gaps to describe a table.

Test yourself first

Here’s the test to see if you need the lesson. Anything less than 100% tells me that you should read on. This is one area of vocabulary/grammar where you really should be error free.

Countables and numbers

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Congratulations - you have completed Countables and numbers. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
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A little grammar for you

The one thing you need to know is that little words like these fall into 3 categories:

  1. words that are only used with countable nouns
  2. words that are only used with uncountable nouns
  3. words that can be used with both

The basic options

countables

 

Some common mistakes

There are two common mistakes to look out for:

“less” used with countable nouns eg Less Fewer women chose to go the cinema than men.

“amount of” used with countable nouns eg A large amount  number of men do not do as much housework as women.

The MOST/MOST OF problem

This is a mistake that all teachers will recognise. It is super common. I have given you examples here with “most” but the same grammar applies for all the words above.

Most men watch less television than women do. CORRECT

Most of the men in the survey watched less television than women did. CORRECT

Most of men in the survey watched less television than women did. INCORRECT

The most of men watched less television than women do. INCORRECT

The way to avoid most mistakes is to note that if you use “of” you also need to use “the”

Some more advanced language

Is this language enough? Nope. You are almost certain to want to use some more advanced/mathematical language too. You will find some more advanced vocabulary for describing numbers with an exercise here. In summary, this means being able to use phrases such as

  • twice as much
  • around a third of

 

An exercise describing a table

This is quite an advanced exercise. You are shown a table and you need to complete the description of it using language from this lesson and other more advanced mathematical language

One point to note is that I only use numbers 8 times even though there are 24 items in the table. For all the others, I either summarise or use language.

 

Do an exercise describing a table

Look at this table and complete the description. For some spaces you may need to use more than one word.

 

IELTS table - shopping in the UK

 

The table shows how _____ money people spent on 4 different items in the United Kingdom in 1998.

It is immediately apparent that adults spent _____ of their money on food, electronic equipment, music and videos than children did. Adults spent just over a _______ of their income on these items, while children spent 84% of money on the same goods. One major difference between adult males and females is that women spent as much as 39% of their money shopping for food, whereas men spent more than _______ on food. While it seems that ____men or women spent a significant ______ of money on music and videos, we can see ______ of men’s income went on electronic equipment in contrast to just 1% for women.

Generally, boys and girls spent their money in a similar way. Music was the most popular item at around 40%, followed by videos at approximately 18% and food at just 10%. The one striking difference between the genders was in electronic equipment. Here boys (18%) spent almost ________ as much as girls (5%).

One conclusion is that there were differences in patterns of spending both in age and gender.

 

See my answer

This is my answer. There may well be other possible correct answers. If you have something different you want checked, just leave a comment.

The table shows how much money people spent on 4 different items in the United Kingdom in 1998.

It is immediately apparent that adults spent less of their money on food, electronic equipment, music and videos than children did. Adults spent just over a third of their income on these items, while children spent 84% of money on the same goods. One major difference between adult males and females is that women spent as much as 39% of their money shopping for food, whereas men spent just over a third on food. While it seems that few men or women spent a significant amount of money on music and videos, we can see a tenth of men’s income went on electronic equipment in contrast to just 1% for women.

Generally, boys and girls spent their money in a similar way. Music was the most popular item at around 40%, followed by videos at approximately 18% and food at just 10%. The one striking difference between the genders was in electronic equipment. Here boys (18%) spent almost three times as much as girls (5%).

One conclusion is that there were differences in patterns of spending both in age and gender.

 

More task 1 help Describing numbers in task 1

   

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9 Responses to Countables and uncountables with numbers in task 1

  1. sonny September 13, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    thank you, you are such a great help. God bless

  2. raj February 6, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi there,
    more advanced vocabulary for describing numbers
    above mentioned hyperlink in topic

    http://www.dcielts.com/ /ielts-grammar/quantifiers-numbers-task1/

    error 404-page not found

    is not working, could you please fix it.

    Thanks & Regards

  3. Max February 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    “Here boys (18%) spent almost three times as much as girls (5%).”
    Not “almost four times” ?

    • Dominic Cole September 5, 2016 at 10:29 am #

      In fact no. 4 times as much would be 20%. The idea is that “almost” means the same as “less than” and not “approximately”

  4. jyoti September 11, 2016 at 1:46 am #

    money is countable so ,it should be adults spent fewer money instead of less.

    • Dominic Cole September 11, 2016 at 9:31 am #

      Money is actually uncountable as a word in English so less is correct.

      • Anonymous September 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

        thank you sir

  5. jyoti September 12, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    thank you,i was not aware of that…

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