Some of the most important language in task 1 is the compare and contrast vocabulary. This is because the instructions tell you to
make comparisons where relevant
You also need to describe numbers. This lesson helps you out with different ways to compare and contrast numbers. It is not all about more and less.
1. Comparisons between sentences
One way to make comparisons is to start a new sentence with a word/phrase that shows that you are about to make a comparison with the previous sentence. The basic words you need here are:
The most popular form of holiday among the Welsh was self-catering with over 60% choosing to cook for themselves. In contrast, only 5 % of the English chose this form of vacation and hotel accommodation was much more popular at 48%.
Almost 50% of the English, Scots and Northern Irish chose to stay in a hotel for their holiday. In comparison, staying in self-catering accommodation was much less popular with around 10% of people choosing this.
The general pattern was for hotel accommodation to be the most popular with around half the people choosing it. The majority of the Welsh, however, chose to stay in self-catering accommodation.
On the other hand
It is clear that a majority of the British chose to stay in hotel for their holiday. On the other hand, there was an exception to this because over 50% of the Welsh opted for self-catering accommodation.
Note that we normally use a comma after In contrast and In comparison.
Note that there are lots of different ways to use compare and contrast and these are just the most basic examples. If you are looking for a higher band score, it’s good advice to learn different ways to use these words.
Note too that typically however is not used as the first word in a sentence.
2. Comparisons within sentences
Another possibility is to compare two pieces of information within the same sentence. The basic words you need here are:
While there are 4 million miles of train lines in the UK, there are only 3 million in France.
Whereas the majority of the French prefer to travel to work by train, only a small minority of the British do.
Although 15% of the French read novels, only 5% of the British do.
Almost 25% of French females study maths with a private tutor, but nearly 60% study English with one.
3. Comparisons with more or less/fewer
This is another obvious way to make comparisons and contrasts. You should note though that you are normally going to compare numbers and nouns and not adjectives. You want to remember these two key bit of grammar:
Remember that after more/less/fewer we use than
5% more girls chose to read books than go to cinema.
If the word is uncountable we use less, if it is countable we use fewer:
Fewer mobiles phones were bought in 2013 than 2014.
Less oil was consumed in 2013 than 2014.
4. Qualify your comparisons with much/far/slightly or a number
This is similar. The idea here is that you still use less/more/fewer but this time you explain how much. Typically, the best way to do this is to use a number:
Far fewer people chose to travel by train than by car. [Where’s the detail?]
25% fewer people chose to travel by train than by car. [Better now we have detail and not just a comparison]
5. Comparisons with most or least/fewest
When you are looking for details to include, the highest/lowest number is almost always important. This too is a form of comparison.
The most popular form of entertainment in the UK was going to the cinema.
The least common form of transport was taking a taxi.
6. Comparisons with similar or same or as…..as
Don’t forget that some of the numbers you will be comparing are similar. These are the basic words and structures you need.
The percentages of females and males who studied languages at university were very similar.
A similar amount of gas and electricity was used domestically in homes.
The figures for 2012 were very similar to the figures for 2013.
Same as …as
The percentage of females who studied at university in 2011 was almost exactly the same as in 2012
7. Comparisons with differ/different/difference
If something is similar, it can also be different! Here is another set of basic variations for you:
The amount of time spent at home differed by almost 25% according to gender.
There was a difference of over 25% in the amount of time males and females spent at home.
This figure was very different among males, only half of whom watched television.
8. Comparisons with numbers
Another way to make comparisons is to do some simple arithmetic! Here are some simple variations:
[5 million] more/less/fewer
5 million fewer units of gas were sold in 2014.
Twice as many people elected to use gas and not electricity for cooking [note the twice as …as structure]
Twice the amount of gas was used for cooking in this period. [note that we amount with uncountable nouns]
Three/four etc times
Four times as many people chose to heat their house with electricity as with gas.
Half the number of people chose to use gas as electricity.
Electricity was half as popular as gas for cooking.
More help with task 1 Try another numbers lesson – do some mathsDo some numbers exercises