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I understand the meaning of this is the case, which is this is true/correct. The thing is whenever I try to apply phrases to my writing according to their meanings explained in dictionaries, more often than not native speakers tell me that they are unnatural in some way. This is an important structure and might help me in my upcoming essays so I just want to make sure that I use it naturally this time. I wish I could explain in words why I feel like the second sentence is missing something, but it's unclear to me, too. What do you think?

  1. While 26% of the immigrants said that they entered the UK for academic pursuits, this is only the case for a mere 4% of emigrants. (I mean only 4% of the surveyed emigrants from the UK said that they left the UK for academic pursuits)
  2. While 27% of the world's forests are in Africa, this is only the case for 9% of global timber production.

There's a type of question in the IELTS test that asks you to compare the subjects in question constantly, so I need as many ways to phrase it as possible to avoid repetition. I've gathered about 5 ways so far, but sometimes it's still not enough. So, I'm wondering if "this is the case for" is practical for this purpose.

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2 Answers 2

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The grammar is correct in both cases, but the semantics is questionable, and the readability is poor.

The phrase "this is only the case" is mostly used to restrict the circumstances when a statement is true, rather than contrasting two numbers relating to different things. These are the first five hits I got from searching the phrase and I've highlighted the restrictive condition in each:

Usually this is only the case with indie games (source)

... you were in extended care and a custody order was made on a status review that expired when you turned 18 (this is only the case if your caregiver does not receive a subsidy) (source)

Note that the change in pH (up or down) produced by adding equivalent amounts of strong acid or strong base are equal. This is only the case when the starting pH of buffer is equal to the pKa of weak acid. (source)

This is only the case, surely, if you think things lots of things ‘out of school’ (jokes, tv, music, computer games, gossip, the stuff of life, stuff picked up at random) are not important? (source)

This is only the case if the bonds get issued in the country's currency. Argentina doesn’t have that luxury[0]. (source)

So while this phrase can probably be manipulated to clearly contrast two subjects, it's not natural, so I would not add it to your list of expressions to show contrast in an IELTS exam.

For your example sentences, it's more appropriate to rephrase and simply use "only":

  1. While 26% of immigrants said that they entered the UK for academic pursuits, only 4% of emigrants gave this reason.

  2. While 27% of the world's forests are in Africa, they only account for 9% of global timber production.

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  • Thanks for your suggestions. But what if I use "this is the case for", that is removing "only" from the phrase, is it okay to use the phrase to compare two figures?
    – Ken Adams
    Dec 17, 2023 at 3:04
  • @KenAdams Are you trying to learn how to phrase the comparison of numbers, or are you trying to learn how to use "this is the case (+ for/when/if/...)"? Those are two different questions.
    – gotube
    Dec 18, 2023 at 3:25
  • I'm trying to do the former. There's a type of question in the IELTS test that asks you to compare the subjects in question constantly, so I need as many ways to phrase it as possible to avoid repetition. I've gathered about 5 ways so far, but sometimes it's still not enough. So, I'm wondering if "this is the case for" is practical for this purpose.
    – Ken Adams
    Dec 18, 2023 at 14:17
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    @KenAdams Thanks for that info. I've edited it into your question. "This is the case for..." (without "only") doesn't express contrast at all, and I find it quite difficult to shovel into an IELTS-style answer showing contrast. So, while I'm sure it's possible to write clear and grammatical sentences with it, if it's difficult for me (native speaker, IELTS trainer, above average writing skills, not currently writing a timed IELTS exam) to use it to show contrast, I can't recommend a language learner put it in their tool belt for that purpose.
    – gotube
    Dec 21, 2023 at 1:58
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    You might be thinking, "Why is this guy so stubborn? Why doesn't he just use "only" like I said?" If so, let me explain. Writing an IELTS essay in under 20 minutes for me is a burden, so the less I have to brainstorm, the better. Using "this is the case for" means that I only have to add data on the subject examined, e.g. "4% of the emigrants". But if I were to use solely "only", I would have to come up with the verb as well, i.e., "gave this answer". That sometimes can cost me a minute if it's a hard case, and I can't afford to lose it.
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 20 at 9:28
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Your examples are somewhat formal and stilted, as @Michael Harvey commented. You may want to consider

... pursuits, ... the (corresponding) figure for emigrants is just 4%.

... Africa, ... the share of global timber production there is just 9%.

this is only the case for may be more common in a conversation like

A: Survey shows that 26% of the immigrants said that they entered the UK for academic pursuits.

B: This is only the case for immigrants from Asia; those from the other continents do not give such high/low figures.

C: Survey shows that 27% of the world's forests are in Africa.

D: This is only the case for last year's survey; this year's figures are likely to be higher/lower/very different.

In the above constructions, the fragment places limitation on the previous statement.

I prefer to place only further back, but I think I am in the minority.

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  • The examples are somewhat formal and stilted, but there is nothing faulty about the grammar. Dec 16, 2023 at 10:14

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