Introduction:

In meetings, reports, presentations etc..., it is very normal to have to describe and compare number data (like profits or sales numbers) and trends from graphs, charts or tables. Normally, people learning English use only increase and decrease, but there are other nouns and verbs which can be used to describe changes in numbers/figures/trends. Some words are used to describe big changes, others for small changes.

In this first of three online exercises on describing trends, we will look at vocabulary for describing changes in numbers/figures/trends on graphs, charts or tables. We will also see how the prepositions change when using either a verb or a noun of change. The focus here is on business English.

Click here to go to the second part of this 'Vocabulary for describing trends exercise'


Exercise: Describing increases and decreases in a business presentation

Read the following Annual Sales Revenue Presenatation for a computer company given by the sales director. Focus on how the sales director describes the increases and decreases of the data/information in the chart below.

Using both the context and the chart, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Sales Revenue Chart

Sales Director:'So now we're going to look at the annual sales figures for last year. As you can see from the chart, in January sales revenue was €300,000. In Febuary it fell by €100,000 to €200,000. By March there was another decline of €100,000, which is normal for that time of year. But things started to improve and by April it edged up by €10,000. And in May there was a jump of €300,000 to €410,000. A good month.

By June, it went up to €560,000. As we know summer is a slow time for us. So, in July there was a drop of €60,000. But in August it plummeted by €420,000 to €80,000. By September there was an improvement, with a climb of €200,000. It then dipped by €10,000 in October, but then there was a rise to €350,000 in November. But in December, I'm pleased to say that sales revenue rocketed by €450,000 to €800,000. Overall, I think we've had a good year.'




Quiz: Vocabulary for describing trends part 1

Using either one of the verbs, nouns or preposition from the below box, choose the word(s) from the question's selection box so that the sentence matches with the data in the below chart for Monthly Visitor Numbers to an Art Gallery. Only use one of the options in the selection box once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

Sales Revenue Chart

CLIMBED       FALL       BY       DROP       WENT UP
PLUMMETED       TO       EDGED UP       DIP       OF

1. In February, the number of visitors declined 1,960.            

Declined by:
(preposition) . 'To decline' means a normal decrease, also used as a noun as 'a decline'. With verbs of increase or decrease when you talk about the amount that has changed we use the following structure: Verb + by + the amount. In Spanish: "disminuir 5%".

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Declined by:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. In March, there was a rise in visitor numbers 1,519.            

Rise of:
(preposition) 'A rise' is a noun that means a normal increase, also used as a verb as 'to rise'. With nouns of increase or decrease when you talk about the amount that has changed we use the following structure: Verb + of + the amount. In Spanish: "un aumento de 145".

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Rise of:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. In April, the number of visitors rocketed 16,000.            

Rocketed to:
(preposition) 'To rocket' is a verb of increase that means a very big change. It is never used as a noun to describe change. With both nouns and verbs of increase or decrease when you talk about what the new number/figure is, we use the following structure: Verb/Noun + to + new number/figure. In Spanish: "disparar a 20,000".

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Rocketed to:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. In May, there was a of 2,711.            

Fall of:
(noun) 'A fall' is a noun that means a normal decrease. The verb is "to fall". In Spanish: "un descenso".

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Fall of:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. In June, the number of visitors by 7,274.            

Plummeted by:
(verb) 'To plumment' is a verb that means a very big decrease. It is never used as a noun to describe change. In Spanish: "bajar de golpe".

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Plummeted by:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. In July, the number of visitors by 135.            

Edged up by:
(phrasal verb) 'To edge up' is a phrasal verb that means to increase very little. 'To edge down' is it's opposite and means to decrease very little. It is never used as a noun to describe change. In Spanish: "subir un poquitito".

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Edged up by:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7. In August, there was a of 145.            

Dip of:
(noun) A 'dip' is a noun that means a little decrease. The verb is 'to dip'. In Spanish: "una bajada".

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Dip of:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8. By September, the number of visitors by 1,994.           

Climbed by:
(verb) 'To climb' is a verb that means a normal increase. The noun is "a climb". In Spanish: "subir".

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Climbed by:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. In October, the number of visitors by 1,511.            

Went up by:
(verb) 'To go up' is a verb that means a normal increase. The opposite is to 'To go down'. It is never used as a noun to describe change. In Spanish: "subir".

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Went up by:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10. In November, there was a in the number of visitors of 1,692.            

Drop in:
(noun) 'A drop' is a noun that means a normal decrease. The verb is 'to drop'. In Spanish: un disminucion.

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Drop in:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the new vocabulary for describing trends, practise it by describing in English the changes in other charts, graphs and tables.