Attribute Words

Here are some essay tips–gleaned from various consultations over the past few days–on analyzing attribute words.

Is the elimination of global poverty a realistic aim? 
A key notion here is persistence [now to future time scope]. We’re looking  at whether it is a sensible or practical to adopt such an aim. Based on an informed assessment of current efforts and mindsets, you can then suggest whether future efforts to solve poverty will really work or continue to be hindered. If you say that is not a realistic aim, you then need to justify why current obstacles to it will persist and continue to impeded any attempts now or in future to completely eliminate it. If you say that is is realistic, you need to likewise argue for why the current obstacles would fail to persist could one day really be eliminated by our efforts.


  • Given the innately power hungry or selfish nature of humans, we can expect complete elimination of poverty to be an elusive aim as corrupted or dishonest government officials in impoverished societies will continue to impede aid efforts.
  • The forces of nature also make the elimination of poverty impractical as the magnitude and unpredictability of natural disasters coupled with harsh geographical climates will continue to overpower aid and developmental efforts.

Better students might even examine whether this is even a desirable aim at all (this could especially be applied to the question of whether education for all is realistic aim).

‘The government, not the people, should be responsible for protecting the environment.’ Do you agree?
Ways to think about responsibility (with help from Oxford English Dictionary)

  • Who has the biggest moral obligation?  –> government supposed to care for people’s welfare?
  • Who has the greatest control over it? –> government has power, resources and managerial ability?
  • Whose fault is it? –> government was most at fault for it? negligence in the past?

Unpacking what responsibility means will go a great way in helping you organize your points and employ clear criteria in assessing who is the primary agent responsible for it.

‘Money is everything.’ Is this true in your society?
Any question dealing with specified contexts must make explicit and through consideration of the larger contextual traits (e.g. materialistic, competitive, educated, democratic, multiracial etc.)  in your arguments (if context is not specified, assume it’s talking about the modern world)
How can we unpack what ‘everything’ might mean?
  • Main purpose or goal? –> are people largely driven by money in their pursuits?
  • Highly treasured or valued? –> is money what people treasure and protect and the end of the day?
  • A vital element? –> money essential for the running of different institutions or organs in society?
  • Existing everywhere? –> money plays a part in everything (breadth, as opposed to depth)
Similar to the above question, unpacking what ‘everything’ means will go a great way in helping you organize your points and employ clear criteria in assessing whether it really is everything.

‘Movies are fun but useless.’ Comment. 
We go back to our family words denoting importance (i.e. necessary, important, purpose). For something to be considered useful, two key considerations are needed
  • The peculiar traits of movies (e.g. visual, about 2 hours long, widely marketed, complex industry, celebrities etc.)
  • The peculiar needs of modern society (e.g. sources of inspiration and creativity, heritage and nostalgia, economic progress, self-expression, activism, knowledge etc) and whether these needs are already met by other mediums
Once you can connect to the traits to the needs, you have a case for saying why movies may go beyond being fun. Describing how the existence of documentary films is certainly not as persuasive as an argument discussing how the peculiar traits of movies  (as a medium) lead directors and producers to use it as a platform (over other mediums) to raise awareness and impart knowledge (meet needs) to an info-hungry and educated audience.

2 thoughts on “Attribute Words

  1. Pingback: Us against the world « Progress in GP

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