Talking through data

When you deliver a presentation you will often need to talk through the data on the screen. This can either be in a the form of a table, chart or other form of graph. As you know, it's not always necessary to talk about the exact number or percentage shown, but rather to provide a general statement about the number.

In order to generalise the data we first need to decide whether the objects we are talking about are countable or uncountable (see my post on less than and fewer than for more information on this Less than or fewer than? (

If the data is countable we can use phrases like:

a large number of

a significant number of


a small number of

a few

  • A large number of people chose to take a staycation last year rather than travel abroad.

  • A significant number of the cats we observed chose to sleep in the red basket rather than the blue basket.

  • Several of the children said they preferred ice cream to crisps.

  • A small number of dog owners said the preferred the beach to the forest.

  • A few of the books were more than one hundred years old.

If the data is uncountable we can use phrases like:

a large amount of

a great deal of

a significant amount of

a small amount of

a little

  • A large amount of rubbish washed up onto the beach last night.

  • A great deal of the rubbish that washed up is made of plastic.

  • A significant amount of the country's imports flow through one port.

  • A small amount of snow fell overnight.

  • A little soup spilt onto my shirt.

However, some words can be used to describe both countable and uncountable nouns:


a lot



  • Some of the soup spilt onto my shirt.

  • None of the books are more than one hundred years old.

  • No snow fell overnight.

  • A lot of children said they preferred ice cream to crisps.

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Joanne Reilly

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