English as a Second Language/word choice

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Question
1. Despite the bad weather forecast, it was agreed that the staff picnic would go ahead as scheduled.

(1.)    In the sentence, may I say also, “…the staff agreed that the picnic would go ahead as it was (or had been) planned”?

Because of the bad weather forecast, it was agreed that the staff picnic would be canceled.

(2.)  May I replace “would be” with “should be” or "were" ? What is the difference?

2. The report is very critical of the health and safety standards at the factory.

(1.) What can be taken in place of “is very critical of” here? “The report criticizes the health

We regret to inform you that on this occasion you have been unsuccessful in your application for the position.

(2.)  May I say also, “…on this occasion your application for the position has been denied/rejected" ?

3.More people would be able to use our products without difficulty, if the instructions were simplified.

(1.) In the sentence, may I use “simpler” instead of “simplified”? What is the difference?

I do not want to hold you up in case you miss the train, so go ahead and we can talk about this next Monday.

(2.) Is the first part of the sentence grammatically correct? Should I say “I do not want to hold you up, causing you to miss the train, so go ahead…”?

4.Can everyone please help themselves to tea and coffee while we wait for the speaker to arrive?

(1.) I wonder if the sentence is correct.

Does it mean the same if I say, “Everyone, please help yourself to tea and coffee”?

(2.) Or is it possible to say “Can everyone please help our guests to tea and coffee while we wait for the speaker to arrive”?

5.We should cut down waste and recycle more.

(1.) May I replace “cut down” with “cut down on” and reduce”?

We should cut down on the intake of salt and sugar in our diet.

(2.) May I leave out “on” in the sentence? What is the difference between “cut down” and “cut down on”?

Answer
1. Despite the bad weather forecast, it was agreed that the staff picnic would go ahead as scheduled.

(1.)   In the sentence, may I say also, “…the staff agreed that the picnic would go ahead as it was (or had been) planned”? yes

Because of the bad weather forecast, it was agreed that the staff picnic would be canceled.

(2.)  May I replace “would be” with “should be” or "were" ? What is the difference? You can make the changes you suggested, the meaning won't change.

2. The report is very critical of the health and safety standards at the factory.

(1.) What can be taken in place of “is very critical of” here? “The report criticizes the health" yes

We regret to inform you that on this occasion you have been unsuccessful in your application for the position.

(2.)  May I say also, “…on this occasion your application for the position has been denied/rejected" ? yes

3.More people would be able to use our products without difficulty, if the instructions were simplified.

(1.) In the sentence, may I use “simpler” instead of “simplified”? What is the difference? no difference

I do not want to hold you up in case you miss the train, so go ahead and we can talk about this next Monday.

(2.) Is the first part of the sentence grammatically correct? no
Should I say “I do not want to hold you up, causing you to miss the train, so go ahead…”? yes

4.Can everyone please help themselves to tea and coffee while we wait for the speaker to arrive?

(1.) I wonder if the sentence is correct. yes, but I'd say "tea or coffee"

Does it mean the same if I say, “Everyone, please help yourself to tea and coffee”? yes, again though "tea or coffee"

(2.) Or is it possible to say “Can everyone please help our guests to tea and coffee while we wait for the speaker to arrive”? No, this doesn't make sense

5.We should cut down waste and recycle more.

(1.) May I replace “cut down” with “cut down on” and reduce”? yes

We should cut down on the intake of salt and sugar in our diet.

(2.) May I leave out “on” in the sentence? What is the difference between “cut down” and “cut down on”?
cut down on = reduce, cut down = consume/use less; they're basically synonyms  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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