IELTS common mistakes | confusing verbs 2: display, show, indicate, illustrate, increase, rise




English Grammar common mistakes | confusing verbs 2

In 2010 the figure increased from 30% to 25%. [incorrect]
In 2010 the figure decreased from 30% to 25%. [correct]

The flow chart displays the quantity of electricity consumed each year. (incorrect)
The flow chart shows the quantity of electricity consumed each year. (correct)

Describing graphs & charts

Graphs and charts can show facts:
The two graphs show the number of people employed by the company in 1980 and 1990.

We use indicate when we want to draw a conclusion about the figures in the charts:
These figures indicate that the company is growing in size each year.

We use illustrate to refer to evidence or proof of something:
These figures illustrate the need for better management of our resources.

We do not use demonstrate, display or tell to describe a chart. Compare the following:
The salesman demonstrated the machine for us. (= show how something works)
Look at the figures displayed on the screen. (= show on a screen)
The girls' work was displayed for all to see. (= make sure it can be easily seen)
Did I tell you about my accident? (= give a verbal or written account of a story)

Describing figures

If figures go up, we use increase or rise:
Temperatures rose in May.

If the figures go down, we use decrease or fall:  
The number of bats fell in 2004.

If the figures stay the same, we use remain steady or show little/no change:
The figures show little change since 2001.

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