Language and grammar – day 3: language for discussing quantities

Language and grammar – day 3: language for discussing quantities

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In order to clearly explain the data and statistics in your article, it is often necessary to use a variety of language for discussing quantities.

All of these phrases for discussing quantities can be followed by the preposition ‘of’.

A range of (meaning: different things that can be considered to be the same type of thing)

Often used with these adjectives: broad, wide, comprehensive, extensive, diverse, varied, limited and narrow.

There is a narrow range of languages available to study at the university.

A variety of (meaning: multiple types of the same thing)

Often used with these adjectives: broad, wide, endless, vast and wide.

There are a wide variety of low-cost treatments available for this condition.

A plethora of (meaning: more than is needed)

The researchers presented a plethora of data.

High/low rates of (meaning: how many times something happens within a time period OR how quickly or slowly something happens.)

Due to high rates of inflation, the housing market has stalled.

High/low densities of (meaning: how much of something is in a place)

The high density of houses leaves little room for green space.

A proportion of (meaning: part of a whole amount)

Often used with these adjectives: low, small, equal, reasonable, large, considerable and significant.

A large proportion of the electorate came out to vote in the election.

The/a minority (meaning: a small number of a larger group who are different in some way OR part of a group or population that is different from the majority of the population in terms of culture, religion or race)

Often used with these adjectives: small, insignificant, privileged, ethnic or racial.

The drug was successful in most cases, with only a small minority of patients experiencing side effects.

A percentage of (meaning: part of a total number or amount when divided by 100)

  • Often used with the following adjectives: small, low, average, high, significant, overall
  • Often used with the following verbs: calculate, represent, express as

A low percentage of workers within the organisation demonstrated knowledge of current safety protocol.

Only a handful of (meaning: a small number)

A handful of participants reported negative side effects.

Tens of, hundreds of, and thousands of

Thousands of cases had been ignored by the relevant authorities.

The/a majority of (meaning: most of a larger group)

  • Often used with adjectives such as: overwhelming, vast, substantial, significant, large, clear

E.g. The vast majority of respondents gave key information such as age, ethnicity and blood type.

  • Often used with verbs such as: comprise, constitute, represent, make up

People aged 18-30 make up the majority of patients on this ward.

Examples of language for discussing quantities can be found in the following extract.

Capitalizing on the global financial interest in blue carbon


Keeping global temperature increases within 1.5-2°C above pre-industrial levels will require the rapid decarbonization of the global economy, alongside technological and other solutions that draw down greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. Natural climate solutions refer to a range of management actions that increase carbon sequestration by vegetation, and are an essential supplement to decarbonisation efforts for countries and corporations with net-zero ambitions. Natural climate solutions can potentially sequester 23.8 petagrams of CO2e per year, which represents 37% of the cost-effective CO2 mitigation required by 2030 for a >66% change of keeping temperature increases below 2°C.

The protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrasses, and tidal marshes has been highlighted as a key set of natural climate solution pathways. These ecosystems are collectively known as ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems (BCEs) due to their high rates of carbon sequestration and high densities of permanent carbon storage relative to their small extent. This translates to a negative sustained global warming potential compared to most terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. A large proportion of this carbon is stored in waterlogged soils, where decomposition processes are slower and soil carbon accumulates over millennia instead of being released back to the atmosphere. As a result, BCEs store >30 Pg of carbon globally across approximately 185 million ha. Over the past decade, global wetland experts have established the climate mitigation potential of these ecosystems and the science is clear [5]. Academic, government, non-governmental and corporate actors are now beginning to build the essential tools to integrate blue carbon into climate policy, financing, and management. As such, blue carbon is now being considered a key contributor to the broader Blue Economy.

Blue carbon has received specific attention from commercial stakeholders wishing to offset emissions that cannot be eliminated through decarbonization and production efficiencies. Natural climate solutions (predominantly terrestrial carbon) currently receive only a few percent of global climate finance, despite their potential to facilitate substantial climate draw down by 2030. However, financing is expected to increase rapidly; corporate stakeholders are increasingly committing to net-zero emissions goals as part of their post-COVID ‘green recovery’, and blue carbon has gained particular interest in this context because it is regarded as a natural climate solution that can provide key additional benefits that align with corporate social responsibility.

Yet, despite the interest from the corporate sector, thousands of scientific studies on BCEs, and the continued loss of these ecosystems worldwide, only a handful of blue carbon projects are currently producing and selling carbon credits. As a result, we have not yet capitalized on the huge demand for blue carbon credits from the corporate sector. Blue carbon remains a niche offsetting approach, though like many markets it is expected to become mainstream once specific constraints are overcome. In this qualitative review we evaluate the current landscape and potential for blue carbon finance, discuss why this potential has not yet been realised, and suggest a finance portfolio approach to overcome current barriers to implementation.

This extract is taken from: Friess DA, Howard J, Huxham M, Macreadie PI, Ross F (2022) Capitalizing on the global financial interest in blue carbon. PLOS Climate 1(8): e0000061. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pclm.0000061

Try the short multiple-choice quiz below to test your understanding.

Lesson tags: language and grammar for research articles, language for quantities
Back to: English for Scientists