« IELTS Writing Advice: don't use the word 'plethora' | Main | IELTS Reading: read phrase by phrase »

August 04, 2019


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Is this the "older brother" of myriad? :)

Thank sir, I got another question, I use always I opine that in speaking. Is this also like plethora with writing?

Thank you for the above advice, Simon!
I learned alot from it.

Yes , many students use this word without knowing much details, for example, there are a plethora of reasons and then give only one or two reasons, they've used the word wrongly.
Another reason is that students use with this word to impress the examiner ,but this doesn't work.Using one or two big words or one or two complex sentences doesn't impress the examiner , you have to use your language consistent throughout your speaking test.

@Pachu 9.23

Another good idea would be to look at your own writing where I can see at least 10 mistakes.

I am also an IELTS tutor and a native speaker and I agree entirely.

Another badly used word is "pivotal", which has a powerful and particular meaning. Yet, many students use it as a synonym for "important". So, when the reader reads "pivotal", he or she expects much stronger content than what he or she then reads.

Collocations and phrases using 'pivotal':
'played a pivotal role in...' is by far the commonest.


I'm an examiner and have gotten so peeved by seeing a plethora of "plethoras" that I looked up discussions and gripes about it online.

Look, the word "plethora" means a great abundance of something. In 90% of the cases I see it used, it doesn't fit because the writer proceeds to list only one or two instances. Secondly, it's an unusual word. It's simply not used in everyday speech or even writing, which brings me to my third point: It looks phony. It's obviously learned on purpose and deployed in the hope of getting a higher score. When it's written amid a sea of spelling mistakes and narrow vocabulary, it looks really out of place.

Try instead: "quite a few," "several," "a considerable number of," etc. If you really mean "numerous" or "copious," there's "a cornucopia of" (to be used very sparingly) or "an abundance of."

That said, a far bigger annoyance to me is crappy handwriting (expect 1/2 band off for that!) and answering the topic you'd like to answer rather than the one you've been given.

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