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Describing Graphs and Charts

Look at the chart below and answer the questions:

1) What kind of chart is this?
a) A pie chart
b) A line graph
c) A proportional bar chart
2) What does the chart show?
a) The percentage of the workforce over 16 who were unemployed
b) The percentage of the workforce over 16 who are unemployed
c) The number of people over 16 who were unemployed
3) What are the units shown in the vertical axis?
a) Hundreds
b) Thousands
c) Percentages
4) What period does the chart cover?
a) Just over 3 years
b) Almost 3 years
c) Just over 2 years
5) What was the unemployment rate at the beginning of the period?
a) 5 percent
b) 5.1 per cent
c) 5.2 percent

It stayed at this level until May the same year.9 per cent.8 per cent by July.1 per cent. but then rose sharply again.Describing Increase & Decrease. but from May to July there was another small drop of 0. From March to May 2005. the figure shot up from 4. From September 2005 onwards.2 per cent.Phrases Read the description below and complete missing section of the line graph: The line graph shows figures for unemployment in the UK workforce between May 2003 and July 2006.7 percent by July 2006. The rate remained stable for a few months. however. Unemployment then remained stable until September 2003.1 per cent. At the beginning of the period. There were no further changes in the level of unemployment until March the following year. From September 2005 to November the same year.8 to 5.1 per cent. From this point on there was a steady downward trend and by January 2004 the rate had fallen to 4.2 per cent. Look the words and phrases in bold and put them in the correct section of the table below: went up and down frequently did not change (2 phrases) went up a little (2 phrases) went up very quickly (2 phrases) arrived at its highest point went up noticeably over a period went down (2 phrases) went down gradually over a period . It is clear from the chart that the rate of unemployment fluctuated a great deal during this time. there was a small increase of 0. A few months later the figure rose slightly to 5. and had reached a peak of 5. there was a marked upward trend in the rate of unemployment in the UK. but this did not last long and the figure had fallen back to 4. unemployment stood at 5.

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2) [There is/are] + [noun phrase] For example: There was a rise in unemployment. DVD sales… 5) There has been a rapid growth in the use of alternative energy sources. The use of alternative energy sources… 6) The popularity of self catering holidays decreased significantly during the 1990s There… . Finish each sentence below so that it means the same as the one given: 1) The price of oil rose sharply. There…. There are also two useful sentence structures for doing this: 1) [noun phrase] + [verb] + [adverb] For example: The unemployment rate rose rapidly. There… 2) There is a noticeable increase in temperature from May onwards. The cost of living fell dramatically. There has been an increase in the cost of living.Sentence Structure In the last task you learned some useful phrases for describing increases and decreases. 4) There had been a steady rise in DVD sales for the first six months of the year. Temperature… 3) The number of people attending the theatre has fallen dramatically.Describing increase and decrease.

Use the words from the box. The number of school leavers going on to university has risen by a quarter since 1980. (example) 3) Lemon sales… 4) Bananas sales… 5) Plums sales… 6) Apricot sales… 7) Pineapple sales… fell by halved rose by tripled .Using fractions You can also describe increases and decreases by using fractions to show the size of the change over a certain period. (example) 2) Apple sales fell by a quarter. the price of petrol had fallen by a third.Describing increase and decrease. Birth rates have halved since the turn of the century. By July. For example: The cost of rent doubled in less than a year. Check the title. the key and the axes so that you understand the chart. a quarter a third doubled 1) Orange sales doubled. b) Now write sentences about the changes in fruit sales from July to November. The chart below compares monthly sales for two months from a fruit wholesaler.

in real life things aren’t quite so easy! Normally charts are not likely to show figures that rise and fall by exact fractions. Again. What you need to do is make approximations. use the words in the boxes . 1) DVD Players… 2) CD Players… 3) Televisions… 4) Radios… 5) Video recorders… . which shows changes in the quantities of imports of certain electronic goods. Match the phrases with the same meaning: 1) just over 2) approximately 3) just under a) around b) nearly c) slightly more than Now write sentences about the chart below. you can say that orange sales almost doubled. Here are some useful words and phrases for making approximations.Making approximations The chart in the previous activity had very convenient numbers. For example. such as a half or a third. if real sales figures for oranges rose from 4000 kilos to 7850 kilos.Describing Graphs. However.

2) Temperatures usually reach a peak ……… about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. At the beginning of the period. From this point on there was a steady downward trend and by January 2004 the rate had fallen to 4. 10.. 4) ……… the recession. and had reached a peak of 5. A few months later the figure had risen slightly to 5.1 per cent. 6) ……… June sales figures were low. Here are some that you will need to use:           in [month / year / morning. From September 2005 to November the same year. .8 to 5. There were no further changes in the level of unemployment until March the following year. but from May to July there was another small drop of 1 per cent.2 per cent. It stayed at this level until May the same year. unemployment stood at 5. but this did not last long and the figure had fallen back to 4. afternoon etc] at [9 o’clock.8 per cent by July.Using Prepositions The correct use of prepositions is really important when describing graphs. It is clear from the chart that the rate of unemployment fluctuated a great deal during this time. From March to May 2005.to… [another point] between…[a point in time]..[a point in time]. there was a small increase of 1 per cent. 3) From 1997 ……… 2006 there was a steady increase in sales of organic produce. From September 2005 onwards.30 am etc] from.and… [another point] during [a period of time] before [a point in time or a period of time] after [a point in time or a period of time] by [a point of time arrived at] until [a point of time reached] since [from a point in the past until now Underline examples of the above propositions found in the description below: The line graph shows figures for unemployment in the UK workforce between May 2003 and July 2006. 5) Televisions audience viewing figures rise dramatically ……… 6 o’clock in the evening. the figure shot up from 4. Complete the sentences with the correct preposition: 1)……… January there was a noticeable rise in the number of people taking sick leave from work. however.2 per cent. 9) There has been a marked decrease in road accidents ……… the new laws were introduced in 2005. unemployment grew steadily.7 percent by July 2006.. 8) From November ……… the end of the year energy consumption continued to rise.Describing Graphs. Unemployment then remained stable until September 2003. The rate remained stable for a few months. but later they began to increase rapidly.9 per cent. there was a marked upward trend in the rate of unemployment in the UK. 7) The price of oil had shot up to $70 per barrel ……… August. but then rose sharply again.

2) Newspaper circulation rose to 20. For example. Sentence 2 shows the point reached.000 per month.000 to reach 20.000 newspapers per month.000 per month increase. and the preposition will depend on whether you’re using the word as a verb or a noun.000 per month and it then rose by another 5. Remember also that not all words for describing rise and fall will take a preposition. See the table below for more details: Verbs that take a preposition rise to/by increase to/by fall to/by drop to/by shoot up to/by plunge to/by stay at remain at fluctuate between/around peak at Verbs that don’t take a preposition reach Nouns that take a preposition a rise of an increase of a fall of a decrease of a peak of . what’s the difference between these two sentences? 1) Newspaper circulation rose by 20.000 per month. and there has been a 20.000 per month. Perhaps newspaper circulation was already 40. Sentence 1 describes the size of the increase. Simply changing the preposition can change the whole meaning of a sentence.Describing Graphs.Using prepositions to show increase and decrease You will also need to be careful when using prepositions with numbers.000 newspapers per month. Perhaps newspaper circulation had been 15. The final figure will be 60.

but with the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 there was a sudden rise [10]……. a peak [7]…….. $5. In general there has been an upward trend in the price of crude oil [1]…….. $17 to reach [5]……. The price quickly fell again and remained stable for most of the 1990s. when it was only $1.. about $30 per barrel in the same year... 1970. and clearly illustrates how oil prices are affected by world events. caused the price to rise sharply [2]…….Look at the graph below and complete the text with the correct preposition. . however.IF NECESSARY The chart shows fluctuations in the price of crude oil over a thirty five year period.. The following Iran-Iraq war caused a further increase.. and the price reached [6]……. Things changed once again at the end of the decade. The Iranian revolution of that year had a huge impact on oil prices.30 per barrel. From that point until 1985. which shot up [4]……. The crisis ended soon afterwards. the price fell steadily. almost $10 per barrel. The oil embargo of the early 1970s. but the price remained [3]……. $14. the rise continued and by the end of the period. nearly $11 per barrel..... around $11 to $13 per barrel until 1979. and from 1999 to 2000 the price increased [11]…….. $13. However. For the next few years the price fluctuated [9]……. nearly $36 in 1980. from 1985 to 1986 the price suddenly plunged [8]……. a peak of $50 per barrel. Despite a slight drop in 2000. the price of crude oil had shot up [12]…….

Look at graph below and write a description of it using the words and phrases we have learnt. Write no more than 150 words. .