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Formal and informal language for IELTS

Contractions in the IELTS exam

In the IELTS Academic writing module, avoid using contractions. Contractions set a more informal tone to a piece of writing. It is fine to use contractions in the speaking module – in fact, not using contractions when speaking will make your English sound halting and a little forced.

The number of job applications hasn’t increased over the last ten years.

The number of job applications has not increased over the last ten years.

Dictation listening exercise for IELTS

Sometimes, it is good listening practice to listen to someone speaking and try to write down exactly what is said. You have to focus on both meaning and the individual words:if you don’t write down all of the words correctly, then you haven’t understood everything. (more…)

The IELTS exam is quite difficult

Be careful when you are using the adverb quite. You can change the meaning of a sentence by putting the main stress on this adverb.

Imagine someone has just cooked dinner for you and they ask you what you think of the food. This is your reply:

It’s quite nice.


Top 20 misspelt words in English

It’s always interesting to read the results of studies relating to language. The Telegraph, an English newspaper, recently reported on a study of the most commonly misspelt words in English. The top twenty misspelt words creates an interesting list – many of the words are words that an IELTS student might use in their writing. Do you think you would be able to remember how to spell all of the words in the list correctly?

Top 20 misspelt words:

1. Separate

2. Definitely

3. Manoeuvre

4. Embarrass

5. Occurrence

6. Consensus

7. Unnecessary

8. Acceptable

9. Broccoli

10. Referred

11. Bureaucracy

12. Supersede

13. Questionnaire

14. Connoisseur

15. A lot

16. Entrepreneur

17. Particularly

18. Liquify

19. Conscience

20. Parallel

You can read the full article here. Make sure that you read through the comments at the end of the article. Some of the commenters make interesting points.

Only and its position in a sentence

Only comes before the word it qualifies. If you change the position of only, you change the meaning of the sentence.

Read this post about the position of adverbs in English. It’s very useful for the IELTS exam. Make sure that you understand what the different adverb types are in English and what their position should be in a sentence. Remember, sometimes there will be a change of meaning when an adverb changes postions. This could be important in the IELTS reading exam and you need to be careful with adverbs in your writing and speaking.

Look at this sentence :

I spoke to his teacher.

How many positions do you think that only could go in? How would putting only in different positions change the meaning of the sentence?

Only I spoke to his brother.
This means that you were the only person to speak to his brother.

I only spoke to his brother
This means that you only talked. You didn’t write a letter.

I spoke only to his brother.
You didn’t speak to anybody else.

I spoke to his only brother.
He only has one brother and I spoke to him.

Look out for the use of only in IELTS reading papers and be careful when you use it!!