A Trip Around the World

01 February 2024

Pack your bags, make sure your travel documents are in order.

Today we are taking a trip around the world — if only in our imagination.

For this Everyday Grammar lesson, we will leave behind our grammar books. We will instead look at messages from friends who are in Pakistan, Spain, Belgium, and Japan.

Our goal: to learn more about the populations of different countries. We will learn about English along the way.

Let's begin our journey...


In a recent lesson about the noun "population," we asked our listeners the following questions:

What is the population like in your country or city? Is the population increasing or decreasing?

Here are some of the answers we received:


Saeed wrote to us from Lahore, Pakistan. Saeed noted:

City Lahore – Pakistan


In 2023 was 13,979,000, a 3.23% increase from 2022.

Saeed presented some exact numbers about the city of Lahore.

Our suggestion is to use complete sentences. In other words, Saeed could update the statement to something like this:

The population of Lahore, Pakistan, is increasing.

In 2023, the population was 13,979,000, a 3.23% increase from 2022.


Now that we have learned some information about a big city in Pakistan, we can learn about a major European city. Rafael writes to us from Barcelona, Spain.

Here is part of the message:

...The populacion in my city is decreasing due to low birth rate, although the total count is maintained thanks to inmigration....The arrival of people from very different cultures creates some integration problems, but it helps to solve other important ones derived from the general aging....

Rafael wrote an excellent message. Our main suggestion is to double check the spelling of a few words: population and immigration.

In terms of grammar, one idea is to include an article such as "the" before "birth rate." Definite and indefinite articles help show the difference between a specific and a general noun.

So, we could update Rafael's statement to something like this: "The population in my city is decreasing due to the low birth rate..."


Now let's look at part of a message from Jean Claude, in Belgium.

...The population of Belgium was 11.67 million inhabitants on January 2023. The Belgian population increased by 0.98% compared to the previous year...

Jean Claude's message was clear and to the point. There is one suggestion we have. It is in the first sentence. We have the phrase "on January 2023" but instead we should use the short word "in," like this:

The population of Belgium was 11.67 million inhabitants in January 2023.

We usually use the short word "on" for an exact date, such as "on January 4th" or "on January 27th"

Next, we are in for a long trip to the other side of the world. A friend from Japan would like to tell us about the population of the island country.


Here is part of a message from an unnamed reader:

According to the national statics, Japan's population has been decreasing almost 600,000 people per a year. There are more than 120,000,000 people in Japan now. However, I heard the population will be under 100,000,000 in 30 years.

We suggest the following changes to the first sentence. The term "statics" should be changed to "statistics." In addition, we often use the short word "by" after decreasing. We can then remove "a" from its position before "year." So, we might update the sentence to something like this:

According to national statistics, Japan's population has been decreasing by almost 600,000 people per year.


That brings us to the end of our imaginative trip around the world.

We received many wonderful pieces of writing – those that were included in today's lesson and many others that were not.

Overall, the general recommendations are to pay careful attention to spelling and to double check short words – prepositions, articles, and so on.

We hope that you have learned a little more about the world, as well as some ideas to use when you write in English.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

check –v. to make sure something is correct by looking at it or reading it again

spelling –n. the way the letters in a word are correctly written, or spelled

phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

inhabitant – n. a person that lives in a particular place

statistic – n. (often plural) a number that represents a piece of information