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IELTS Grammar / Vocabulary: 'advanced and complex'?

In this lesson I'll try to answer Kami's question (see yesterday's lesson). Let's start by looking at the sentence below in more detail.

Fierce debates have been provoked if assignments ought to be done by students.

There's really only one grammar mistake in the sentence above: the word "if" is used wrongly. We would need to write something like this: "Fierce debates have been provoked about the issue of whether assignments..."

However, vocabulary is the real problem in the sentence:

  1. The word fierce is much too strong, and seems unnatural or inappropriate in this context. Are people really having fierce (i.e. furious, very angry) debates about homework?
  2. I would also question the use of the word debates. Are people really debating this homework issue? Maybe they are, but this still seems a little exaggerated to me.
  3. Next, while it isn't grammatically wrong, I would question the use of the word provoked. Has someone or something provoked this debate?
  4. Finally, assignments are not necessarily the same thing as homework. Assignments can be done in the classroom, so the use of this word confuses the issue.

While the grammar of the original sentence was almost correct, any native English speaker would find the sentence strange or unnatural, due to the vocabulary issues mentioned above. There's nothing "advanced or complex" about choosing inappropriate or exaggerated words that no English speaker would use.

Final tip:
It's good to be fascinated by new words and phrases, but using them correctly and appropriately is a different challenge. For most people, trying to write like an English-speaking journalist or novelist is like trying to play football at the level of Messi or Ronaldo! If you aim for such a high level, you're likely to make big mistakes.

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