IELTS Preparation – Crocodile Tourism

Today we’ll look at some words that cause a lot of confusion – the relative pronouns ‘that’, ‘which’ and ‘who’, and then we’ll do some pronunciation practice.

But first, let’s listen to some people talk about a very dangerous tourist attraction from Australia’s Northern Territory.

People have always been fascinated with death. Most of the mysteries that you see on television, the films that you see, involve murder in one kind or another.

Crocodiles are one of the last remaining dinosaurs and the idea of a crocodile coming out of the water and grabbing somebody is absolutely riveting.

I read about the death of the German tourist who was taken by a crocodile. It didn’t put me off coming to the Northern Territory, quite the opposite in fact.

I think the NT is famous for its crocodiles and probably quite famous for its crocodile attacks and that tourists who come here would like to be, or feel as though they were, involved in that danger.

Tourists want to have a story to take home and if they can say that they were in the Northern Territory where the German tourist was taken by the croc, then it adds to their own adventure.

So he thinks people may actually be attracted to the Northern Territory because of the dangerous crocodiles.

But now we’re going to leave the crocodiles, and talk about something else that can be dangerous – the relative pronouns ‘who’, ‘which’ and ‘that’.

Listen for some relative pronouns here.

People have always been fascinated with death. Most of the mysteries that you see on TV, the films that you see, involve murder of one kind or another.

I read about the death of the German tourist who was taken by a crocodile.

\Most of the mysteries ‘that’ you see on TV involve murders.

I read about the death of the tourist ‘who’ was taken by a crocodile.

Relative pronouns are used to introduce relative clauses.

They give more information about a subject.

The subject here is ‘mysteries’.

The ‘that clause’ gives us more information about the subject – ‘the mysteries that you see on TV’,

‘The tourist’ is the subject. The ‘who clause’ gives more information – ‘the tourist who was taken by a crocodile’. But how do you choose between ‘who’, ‘which’ or ‘that’?

Well the relative pronoun ‘who’ is only used with people.

‘Which ‘is only used with things.

‘That’ is usually only used with things as well. Sometimes, in informal language, it can refer to people.

But when you’re learning English, it’s probably best to avoid using ‘that’ for people.

The most difficult thing with these relative pronouns is working out the difference between ‘which’ and ‘that’.

As a general rule, we use ‘which’ when the clause does not affect the meaning of the sentence.

A ‘which’ clause just gives us extra information.

It can be left out of a sentence, and the sentence still has the same meaning.

When ‘which’ is used in this type of clause, we put commas around it.

  • ‘The hat, which is on the bed, is new.’

Here, the clause ‘which is on the bed’, just gives us additional information.

We can take it out, and the sentence still makes sense.

There is only one hat, it’s the hat on the bed. We take out the which clause, and the important information is still there:

  • ‘The hat is new.’

OK, now let’s look at ‘that’.

We use ‘that’ for clauses that are a crucial part of the sentence. They are actually part of the definition of the subject.

  • ‘The hat that is on the bed is new.’

Notice ‘that’ clauses do not use commas, because they are a crucial part of the sentence.

There are a number of hats that this sentence could be referring to. But the sentence
is specifically talking about the hat on the bed, so we use ‘that’.

The ‘that’ clause cannot be taken out of the sentence.

  • ‘The hat is new.’

It doesn’t make sense here, because it doesn’t tell us which hat is being discussed. It will take some practice to get used to when to use ‘who’, ‘which’ and ‘that’.

To sum up, we use ‘that’ to define the subject.

We use ‘which’, in a clause with commas, to add extra information.

You will notice ‘which’ often being used in place of ‘that’, especially in spoken language. While not strictly correct, it is very common.

The word ‘who’ is a bit simpler. It’s only used when the subject is a person, and can be used in both of these types of clauses.

OK. Now we’re going to do some pronunciation practice.

Students learning English often complain that native speakers speak too fast.

Well, it’s true. English speakers do run their words together, so it’s often very difficult to hear when one word ends and another begins.

To make your spoken English sound natural, it’s important for you to do this too.

You need to learn to link words ending in a ‘final consonant’ sound to words with an ‘initial vowel’ sound.

Let’s look at some words linked with ‘of’.

People have always been fascinated with death. Most of the mysteries that you see on television, the films that you see, involve murder in one kind or another.

Crocodiles are one of the last remaining dinosaurs, and the idea of a crocodile coming out of the water and grabbing somebody is absolutely riveting.

I read about the death of the German tourist who was taken by a crocodile. It didn’t put me off coming to the Northern Territory, quite the opposite.

He uses the phrases:

  • ‘most of’,
  • ‘one of’,
  • ‘out of’,
  • ‘death of’.

But in sentences, these phrases will usually become linked together:

  • ‘most of, most of’,
  • ‘one of, one of’,
  • ‘out of, out of’,
  • ‘death of, death of’.

Notice that ‘of’ in these phrases is unstressed.

Practice these ones:

  • ‘many of, many of’,
  • ‘most of, most of’
  • ‘one of, one of’
  • ‘several of, several of’.

Listen to the differences when I read these sentences in a natural, conversational way.

  • ‘One of my best friends lives here’.
  • ‘One of my best friends lives here’.
  • ‘Many of the trees have died’.
  • ‘Many of the trees have died’.
  • ‘I enjoy most of her songs’.
  • ‘I enjoy most of her songs’.

People have always been fascinated with death. Crocodiles are one of the last remaining dinosaurs and the idea of a crocodile coming out of the water and grabbing somebody is absolutely riveting.

He says people have always been fascinated with death.

People ‘have always’.

Notice how in conversation, we link the final consonant sound ‘v’, with the initial vowel sound ‘aw’:
‘have always’,
‘Crocodiles are, crocodiles are’,
‘is absolutely, is absolutely’.

Ok, now let’s try these sentences.

  • ‘She is always studying hard.’
  • ‘She is always studying hard.’
  • ‘They aren’t scared by crocodiles.’
  • ‘They aren’t scared by crocodiles.’

So make sure you practice words in phrases and sentences. That way you’ll get used to linking your words, and your spoken English will sound more natural.

And don’t forget to listen to native speakers as much as you can, and try to copy them, even if they do speak fast!

And that’s all for today. I’ll see you next time on Study English. Bye bye.

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