Describing Graphs, Numbers and Tables in English


How many times have you been describing a graph or chart and only used increase or decrease? You know there are more words you can use, your teacher has given you lists of them, but then the panic comes and it’s back to good old increase and decrease.

So what’s wrong with using just increase and decrease? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. They are great, and even more they are magic verbs,  both transitive and intransitive, see below. But they are neutral and sometimes you need to give more information by using an adjective or adverb.

A good technique we have used with students is to remember the 5 Ss. All of them can be used as adjectives or adverbs and can be used in all tenses to give extra information to a sentence. They can be used in written or spoken English.


      • They can be used after a verb as adverbs  Slowly/Slightly/Steadily/Sharply/Significantly

      For example:  Prices have increased significantly this year.

      The company’s profits decreased slightly last year.


      • Or as an adjective before a noun:


      Next year the government predicts there will be a steady decrease in unemployment.

      Since 2010, there has been a sharp increase in the number of mobile phone users in Spain.

      Just remember these  5  Ss and you will be able to give more information in your sentences.


      Next week: TIP NUMBER 2. Alternatives to increase and decrease.


      Transitive/Intransitive Verbs

      • Some verbs are transitive and always need to be followed by an object.

      The government is going to INTRODUCE new regulations.

      • Some verbs don’t need an object, these are intransitive verbs.

      Prices are falling

      • Some verbs are what we call MAGIC verbs. These are fantastic and are both transitive and intransitive.  INCREASE and DECREASE are the best examples of these.

      Prices are increasing (Intransitive)

      The government is going to increase prices (Transitive)


      Your Task

      In the comments below, please give some example sentences using the graph above.


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