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I'm checking this chart's description:

enter image description here

There is one sentence that sounds odd

The second most popular way of making journeys in Canada is on foot.

I think that way of making journeys doesn't sound natural.

Would it be better to write

The second most popular means of transport in Canada is on foot?

I'm also not sure about on foot here. Is on foot ok in a sentence like this?

It's an IELTS writing task, so the style should be academic.

Will appreciate any clarifications.

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  • It's a strange thing to say. In reality. For almost all people who have ever lived, walking (travelling "on foot") would be by far the "most popular" way of getting from place to place. But doubtless in this modern age there are quite a few people who clock up more actual miles travelled by plane or car than by foot. But is it meaningful to say that going from New York to London by air is "more popular" than going by foot? By characterising "on/by foot" as a "mode of transport", you're practically forcing "quirky phrasing". Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 17:31
  • @FumbleFingers thank you for your answer. I feel that it's strange. That's why I asked the question. I just don't understand how to put it. Could you help me, please?
    – i_yre_b
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 17:38
  • I don't really understand the context. What exactly is a "journey"? And does "most popular" mean the mode of travel that people like most, that they spend most time using, or that they travel the greatest distance by? Or indeed the mode of travel used by most people, as in More people walk to work than drive to work. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 17:43
  • You are correct. It does not sound natural. It would be more natural to say, The second most popular way of taking a journey is by foot. That still sounds a bit weird as others have commented but at least it's understandable. We take journeys. We do not make them.
    – EllieK
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 17:46
  • making journeys seems awkward in this context - can't put my finger on why, but it seems to imply more effort than just journeying in general. Also, a journey in common parlance typically refers to a longer trip (longer than most of us would be making on foot), but you'd need a look at the data to confirm what the author actually meant here. I'd also consider replacing on foot with walking (I'd assume running or hopping on one leg are statistically insignificant...) Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 17:46

1 Answer 1

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It's perfectly valid English.

Personally, I would have been more likely to say, "The second most popular way of traveling is on foot". I suppose "making a journey" is an unusual phrase. In this case I think they said it that way because they wanted to match the labels on the chart. The chart says "Journeys made by", so they're just recasting that a bit to say "making a journey". If they had said "travelling" or "means of transport" or some other phrase, then a reader might wonder, "Does 'travelling' mean something different than 'making a journey'?"

When I'm making summary or conclusion statements like this based on data in a chart, I will often be careful to use very similar or exactly the same wording as the chart to avoid stumbling into a misinterpretation. I don't want to carelessly say "per capita income" when the chart said "family income", or "car owners" when the chart said "car drivers", etc. By the way, sometimes people do this sort of thing deliberately when they're trying to make a political or social point. Like quote some statistic about illegal immigrants and than talk as if that statistic applied to all immigrants, or vice versa. Or quote the results of a poll taken on one street corner in New York and casually talk as if that applied to all Americans. Etc. (I don't want to go into a detailed example because that would veer us off into a political debate.)

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  • Good point about matching the labels on the chart. Excellent point about this sometimes being extra relevant because the existing "terminology" is being used in some "persuasive writing" context where even superficially trivial rephrasing might distort or lose some point being made (honestly or otherwise! :) Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:37
  • Thank you, Jay, for the comment. Even I try to use a wording similar to the task, but if you use it in every sentence, the description becomes awkward.
    – i_yre_b
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 14:54

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