0.4 million students studied abroad in 1970 in the US, with a subsequent considerable increase to 1.4 million in 1985 and a final drop to 0.8.

I was taught by my teacher the above structure, and I have been using it for a long time without being advised to do otherwise. However, today, somebody told me that the below sentence, which is somewhat similar to the one above, is awkward and told me how I could improve it. So I wonder if what my teacher taught me was incorrect as well.

We can see that 15% of the UK's population were over 65 years of age in 1985, with a prediction of a rise to about 23% in 2035.

  • What did they say about "a prediction of a rise"? It's not identical to your construction, as it includes two nouns rather than one noun and two adjectives, and describes a prediction rather than a fact.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 3 at 9:13
  • with a predicted rise to about x in y. Again, this is basically editing and therefore disallowed. Teachers can find things grammatical or ungrammatical, sure. You have been using it for a long time? Again, that is just not believable... They don't normally give students set sentences with complex structures and say they have taught them that...
    – Lambie
    Apr 3 at 15:43
  • The structure my teacher taught me was: "Data …, with a subsequent increase/decrease/leveling off/fluctuation…and a final…". I don't know what is not believable about the fact that I have been using it for a long time. Do I have to post a link to all my practice essays using this structure to prove this or something?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 4 at 0:57
  • @StuartF Here's the link to the post
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 4 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


Speaking as an information analyst as well as a native English speaker, I don't like either of them.

The order of adjectives in "a subsequent considerable increase" sounds off. 'Subsequent' can be both an adjective of time and sequence. This way around might be correct if there was a previous considerable increase, but if this is the first increase that is 'considerable' in size then I think they should be other way around.

"...with a prediction of a rise" just sounds clunky. You could say:

We can see that 15% of the UK's population were over 65 years of age in 1985, with a predicted rise to about 23% in 2035.

  • 1
    Right, with a predicted rise is the way to go here.
    – Lambie
    Apr 3 at 15:44
  • What about the first structure? Is the order of the adjectives the only problem? If so, I haven't recognized the difference between the two structures in terms of using a noun after "with". If we can't use "with a prediction", why can we use "with an increase"?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 4 at 2:06

I wondered whether I should elaborate yesterday about why it was awkward. It's mostly that it's a bad fit with the first half of the sentence, not that there's anything wrong with that construction per se. It's very useful when ordering food in a diner: "I would like two eggs with bacon and coffee." This kind of pattern is also common in weather forecasts: "We'll see some rain overnight, with a chance of hail."

It simply made a mismatch with the first half of the sentence, in which the core is "15% of the UK's population were." The subject is the people themselves, and it seems odd to use the "with a" phrase on them ("I'm 65 with a prediction to ___"?). The latter construction seems to be thinking of the data more as the focus. Maybe it would have worked better in a sentence like "Looking at the data for 1985, we see a dip in the average age, with a predicted rise over the next two decades." In this sentence, the data itself is the focus, rather than the people surveyed. Personally, I would still probably choose a different wording myself, that includes a verb in the final clause, like "...we see a dip in the average age, but it is predicted to rise over..." I'm not sure that I can articulate why this feels better, but I feel it's more clear.

Rereading the first paragraph, I guess the difference is that in "eggs with bacon" or "we'll see rain with a chance of hail," the things connected by "with" are both objects. But you could have the sentence "On our date we went to a movie, with a stop for dinner first at Luigi's." In this, the connected elements aren't grammatically similar, although the meaning is clear ("... we went to a movie [and we made] a stop..."). It seems less awkward in such a casual, conversational context than in formal writing about statistics.

  • By this, I suppose the first sentence, the one my teacher taught me, is also awkward. Why didn't Astralbee raise this problem?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 4 at 2:17

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