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From http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-agree-disagree-essay-sample-answer/

The growing number of overweight people is putting strain on the health care system in an effort to deal with health issues involved.

I can't understand the sentence after the word 'system', and what it is referring to.

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The problem with the sentence is the change of person in mid-sentence.

It starts out with "growing number" as the subject, but by the time you get to "in an effort", we are expected by the writer (and by XPMai) to believe that the subject has magically changed to "the health care system". But there is nothing in the sentence to signal this change of person.

The simplest change, to make the sentence grammatical, would be to subtitute "its efforts" for "an effort".

A better rewrite might be ". . {complicating/frustrating/making more difficult} that system's efforts to deal with the issues involved."

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  • I'm sorry if I made mistake too, but I was just simplifying the sentence as requested by the asker. – XPMai Apr 18 '15 at 12:28
  • @BrianHitchcock I was surprised to read that you thought the subject had changed to "the health care system". I don't know how flexible English really is, but to me it's flexible enough to read "the health care system in an effort to deal with health issues involved" as a single noun phrase, so stylistic issues aside, the sentence should be fine. (It's fine to me.) By the way, being curious, I did a search and found its source here: ieltsliz.com/ielts-agree-disagree-essay-sample-answer. – Damkerng T. Apr 18 '15 at 12:43
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To elaborate on how "in an effort to {verb}" should be used:

The highway crew are salting the roadway throughout the night in an effort to make the roadway safe during the relentless ice-storm.

STRUCTURE: Someone does {X} in an effort to achieve {Y}.

Who is the "someone"? The highway crew.

What are the crew doing? They are salting the roadway throughout the night.

Why are they doing this? To make the roadway safe during the relentless ice-storm.

Now let's reverse this sentence about the relentless ice-storm so that its structure mirrors the structure of the original sentence about overweight people, and so that it implements the fix suggested by Brian:

The growing number of overweight people is putting strain on the health care system in an [sic] effort to deal with health issues involved.

The relentless ice-storm is putting strain on the highway crew in their efforts to make the roadway safe.

If we do not say "in their efforts" but say instead "in an effort", the sentence would suggest (absurdly) that the ice-storm is the "someone" who does {X} in order to achieve {Y}:

The relentless ice-storm is putting strain on the highway crew in an [sic] effort to make the roadway safe.

What is being done? Strain is being put on the highway crew.

Who or what is doing this? The ice-storm.

Why is the ice-storm doing this? To make the roadway safe. What???

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  • I was surprised to read that you agreed with Brian Hitchcock's analysis. I read "the health care system in an effort to deal with health issues involved" in that sentence as a single noun phrase, so I believe that stylistic issues aside, the sentence should be fine. By the way, I found its source here: ieltsliz.com/ielts-agree-disagree-essay-sample-answer. – Damkerng T. Apr 18 '15 at 12:46
  • @Damkerng T. It is a bad sentence, and now we know its source. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 18 '15 at 13:32
  • @Damkerng T. "in an effort to deal with health issues involved" is not an adjectival phrase modifying "health care system", at least not an idiomatic one. Are you thinking of something like the following? I spoke with the couple in the midst of planning their wedding. That would be stylistically clunky, but "[who were] in the midst of planning their wedding" could be understood as part of the noun-phrase that is the object of "spoke with". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 18 '15 at 13:38
  • Yes, that's what I thought. – Damkerng T. Apr 18 '15 at 13:55
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    We can say that someone is "in the midst of" but we cannot say that someone is "in an effort to." My answer shows an idiomatic use of the collocation "in an effort to". With respect to the site you linked, not everything that one finds on the internet is authoritative. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 18 '15 at 14:02
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@Damkerng, thank you for giving us the source -- when I googled, I didn't find it. Yeahia, in future, could you give us a url when possible? Thanks.

Yeahia, you were right to be confused, since the sentence is not well written.

Frankly, I was not very pleased with Liz's responses to you. Also, the example sentence is poorly chosen, since it would be impossible to disagree with the statement! On the other hand, it's hard to argue with free....

Here is a rewritten version of the sentence:

The growing number of overweight people is putting strain on the health care system, because of the many health issues involved in obesity.

My advice: if this happens to you when you take the test, and you don't understand part of the sentence, that's okay. The test is simply an opportunity for you to write an opinion essay, so you can show your essay-writing skills.

Good luck with your test!

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The sentence does not make sense as written.

It is impossible to know for sure what the writer wanted to express unless that writer can tell us.

What we really seem to have here is simply a website with low-quality content. On another page we find

To what extend do you agree?

in the gray-boxed example question.

That should read extent instead of extend.

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The growing number of overweight people

Simplified Version: the increasing number of fat people

is putting strain on the healthcare system

Simplified Version: is pressuring (making things difficult for) the healthcare system

to deal with health issues involved

Simplified Version: to treat the patients.

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  • Disclaimer: My answer is to simplify the sentences making the meanings conveyed more obvious as requested by the asker, not to do additional job correcting grammar mistakes. – XPMai Apr 18 '15 at 12:27
  • I'm glad you noticed that the poster wasn't trying to write a clear sentence, but simply understand a sentence s/he had come across. However, the poster was clear that the only part that wasn't understandable was the last part. So the first two explanations you offered were unnecessary. Anyway, thanks for trying to help him/her! – aparente001 Apr 18 '15 at 19:22

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