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How to Improve Your Grammar for IELTS

In this article:

  • Why you need grammar for IELTS.
  • How grammar is marked for IELTS.
  • Five grammar basics to know for IELTS.

A strong command of grammar is an essential component of success in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS Exam). Whether you’re aiming to excel in the Writing and Speaking sections or simply want to boost your overall language proficiency, improving your grammar skills is a crucial step. In this article, we will delve into effective strategies that will help you enhance your grammar for IELTS Test.

Why you need grammar for IELTS

Grammar is an indispensable component when preparing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). It plays a crucial role in various aspects of the IELTS test.

Grammar for IELTS Academic

The IELTS Academic test assesses your English proficiency in the context of an academic setting. Academic language is typically more formal and structured compared to everyday conversational English. Therefore, having a solid grasp of academic writing is crucial. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your grammar skills for academic writing:

here are some specific tips for improving grammar in academic writing:

  1. Active Voice and Passive Voice: Understand when to use each voice. Active voice is generally preferred for clarity and directness, but passive voice may be necessary for emphasis or to shift focus.
  2. Subject-Verb Agreement: Ensure that the subject and verb in your sentences agree in terms of number and person. This helps maintain grammatical accuracy.
  3. Verb Tense Consistency: Use appropriate verb tenses consistently to indicate the timeline of actions or events in your writing.
  4. Punctuation Mastery: Learn the correct usage of punctuation marks, such as commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes. These marks play a crucial role in structuring your sentences effectively.
  5. Transition Words and Phrases: Incorporate transitional words and phrases (e.g., “however,” “furthermore,” “on the other hand”) to guide readers through your ideas and create smooth transitions between paragraphs.
  6. Parallel Structure: Maintain parallelism in lists and comparisons. Ensure that items within a list or elements being compared have the same grammatical structure.
  7. Sentence Variety: Vary sentence lengths and structures to avoid monotony and enhance the flow of your writing.
  8. Proofreading and Editing: Always proofread your work for grammatical errors and typos. Editing helps you catch mistakes and refine your writing for clarity and coherence.
  9. Academic Vocabulary: Utilize specialized vocabulary appropriate for the academic context. Be cautious of overly complex words; prioritize clarity over complexity.
  10. Formal Tone: Maintain a formal tone in your writing by avoiding contractions and slang expressions.
  11. Citation and Referencing: Understand and correctly apply citation styles (e.g., APA, MLA) to attribute sources and avoid plagiarism.
  12. Conciseness: Strive for clarity and conciseness. Eliminate unnecessary words and redundancies.
  13. Grammar Resources: Refer to reputable grammar guides, style manuals, and online resources to clarify specific grammar rules and usage.
  14. Peer Review: Have a peer or colleague review your work to catch grammatical errors or awkward phrasing that you might have missed.
  15. Practice Regularly: Regular writing practice is key to improving your grammar skills over time. Set aside time to write and revise academic pieces to apply what you’ve learned.

Grammar for IELTS General Training

Here are some straightforward tips for improving everyday grammar skills, specifically tailored for the IELTS General Training test:

  1. Varied Sentence Structures: Experiment with different sentence structures to make your writing and speaking more engaging. Mix shorter and longer sentences to maintain a natural flow.
  2. Word Order Mastery: Understand the correct word order within sentences. This is vital for effective communication, ensuring your message is clear and easily understood.
  3. Idioms and Everyday Expressions: Familiarize yourself with common idioms and expressions used in everyday speech. Incorporating these idiomatic phrases can make your language sound more authentic and natural.
  4. Subject-Verb Agreement: Ensure subjects and verbs agree in terms of number (singular or plural) to maintain grammatical accuracy.
  5. Pronoun Usage: Use pronouns (e.g., he, she, they) correctly to refer to previously mentioned nouns and prevent repetition.
  6. Tense Consistency: Maintain consistent verb tenses when discussing past, present, and future events to avoid confusion.
  7. Everyday Vocabulary Expand your vocabulary with words commonly used in everyday situations. Practice using these words in context to enhance your fluency.
  8. Conversational Connectors: Utilize conversational connectors like “well,” “you know,” and “I mean” to bridge ideas in a casual and conversational manner.
  9. Informal Contractions: Incorporate informal contractions (e.g., “I’m,” “didn’t”) to mirror natural spoken language.
  10. Friendly Tone: Maintain a friendly and approachable tone in your writing and speaking to reflect the everyday context of the IELTS General Training test.
  11. Listening to Natural Speech: Listen to native speakers or watch movies, TV shows, or podcasts to familiarize yourself with how people naturally speak in everyday situations.
  12. Contextual Use of Phrasal Verbs: Understand and use phrasal verbs (e.g., “run into,” “catch up”) appropriately to convey meaning effectively.
  13. Commonly Used Prepositions: Master the correct usage of prepositions (e.g., “in,” “on,” “at”) to accurately describe locations, times, and relationships.
  14. Writing Informal Emails or Letters: Practice writing informal emails or letters to friends or colleagues to simulate real-life written communication.

How is grammar marked for IELTS?

Grammar is an important component of the IELTS test, and it is assessed in both the Writing and Speaking sections. While there is no separate “grammar” score, your grammatical accuracy and range are evaluated within the overall assessment of your language skills. Here’s how grammar is typically marked for IELTS:

Writing Section

In the IELTS Writing section, your grammatical accuracy is an essential criterion for assessing your language proficiency. Examiners evaluate your use of grammar in terms of:

  1. Grammatical Range: This refers to your ability to use a variety of sentence structures and verb tenses appropriately. Displaying a diverse range of grammar demonstrates your linguistic flexibility.
  2. Grammatical Accuracy: Examiners assess how well you use grammar to convey your ideas without errors or mistakes. Frequent errors may impact your score negatively.
  3. Sentence Structure: The complexity and correctness of your sentence structures are evaluated. Effective use of sentence types (simple, compound, complex) contributes to a higher score.
  4. Subject-Verb Agreement: Examiners look for proper agreement between subjects and verbs, ensuring that they match in terms of number and person.
  5. Punctuation and Mechanics: Accurate use of punctuation marks (commas, periods, etc.) and proper mechanics (capitalization, apostrophes, etc.) are considered in your overall score.
  6. Coherence and Cohesion: While not directly about grammar, the way you connect sentences and paragraphs (using conjunctions, transitional phrases, etc.) impacts the overall flow and clarity of your writing, which is closely related to effective grammar usage.

Speaking Section

In the IELTS Speaking section, grammar is assessed in the context of your ability to communicate fluently and coherently. Examiners consider:

  1. Grammatical Accuracy: Similar to the Writing section, your ability to use grammar accurately in speech is crucial. However, minor errors are usually overlooked as long as they do not impede understanding.
  2. Verb Tense Usage: Proper use of verb tenses to describe past, present, and future events is evaluated.
  3. Subject-Verb Agreement: Like in writing, your ability to ensure subjects and verbs agree correctly is noted.
  4. Sentence Structure: Examiners assess your ability to form well-structured sentences, especially when expressing complex ideas.
  5. Phrasal Verbs and Idiomatic Expressions: Your usage of phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions relevant to the context can positively impact your score.
  6. Fluency and Coherence: While not strictly about grammar, how you link ideas together and maintain a coherent conversation demonstrates your control over grammar and language usage.

Five grammar basics to know for IELTS

Here are five essential grammar basics to know for the IELTS exam:

1. Sentence structures and forms

Understanding and utilizing different sentence structures and forms is essential for effective communication in the IELTS exam. Here are some key sentence structures and forms you should be familiar with:

  1. Simple Sentences:
    • Consist of a single independent clause.
    • Express a complete thought or idea.
    • Example: “She enjoys reading books.”
  2. Compound Sentences:
    • Combine two independent clauses using coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or) or semicolons.
    • Example: “He studied diligently, and he scored well on the exam.”
  3. Complex Sentences:
    • Contain one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
    • Dependent clauses cannot stand alone as complete sentences.
    • Example: “Although it was raining, they decided to go for a walk.”
  4. Compound-Complex Sentences:
    • Combine elements of compound and complex sentences.
    • Example: “She enjoys playing the piano, and she practices every day because she wants to become a professional musician.”

2. Word order

Word order is a fundamental aspect of English grammar that dictates how words are arranged in a sentence to convey meaning clearly. Understanding proper word order is essential for effective communication in both spoken and written English. Here are some key principles of word order:

  1. Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) Order:
    • The most common sentence structure in English.
    • The subject performs the action (verb) on the object.
    • Example: “She (subject) reads (verb) books (object).”
  2. Subject-Verb (SV) Order (Imperative Sentences):
    • Used in imperative sentences (commands or requests).
    • The subject is often implied (understood) and not explicitly stated.
    • Example: “Close (verb) the door (implied subject).”
  3. Subject-Verb-Complement (SVC) Order:
    • Includes a subject, verb, and subject complement (predicate nominative or predicate adjective).
    • Used to provide more information about the subject.
    • Example: “She (subject) is (verb) a doctor (subject complement).”
  4. Subject-Verb-Adverb (SVA) Order:
    • Used when an adverb provides additional information about the verb.
    • Example: “He (subject) speaks (verb) fluently (adverb).”
  5. Inverted Word Order:
    • Used in questions and certain sentence structures.
    • The order of subject and verb is reversed.
    • Example: “Did she (auxiliary verb) go (main verb) to the party?”
  6. Adjective-Noun Order:
    • Adjectives typically precede the nouns they modify.
    • Example: “Beautiful (adjective) flowers (noun).”

3. Know your tenses

Knowing and correctly using different verb tenses is crucial for effective communication and performance on the IELTS exam.

  1. Present Simple:
  2. Past Simple:
  3. Future Simple (Will):

These three tenses cover different time frames and are foundational for expressing a wide range of ideas and events. Mastery of these tenses is essential for effective communication in both spoken and written English.

  1. Present Simple:
    • Used for general truths, habits, and permanent situations.
    • Example: “She lives in London.”
  2. Present Continuous:
    • Used for actions happening at the moment of speaking or around the current time.
    • Example: “I am reading a book right now.”
  3. Present Perfect:
    • Used for actions that happened at an unspecified time in the past with a relevance to the present.
    • Example: “I have visited Paris several times.”
  4. Present Perfect Continuous:
    • Used for actions that started in the past and continue up to the present moment.
    • Example: “They have been studying for hours.”
  5. Past Simple:
    • Used for actions that happened and were completed in the past.
    • Example: “She watched a movie last night.”
  6. Past Continuous:
    • Used for actions that were ongoing in the past or interrupted by another event.
    • Example: “He was studying when the phone rang.”
  7. Past Perfect:
    • Used to express an action that happened before another action in the past.
    • Example: “She had already eaten dinner when I arrived.”
  8. Past Perfect Continuous:
    • Used to show the duration of an action that occurred before another action in the past.
    • Example: “They had been playing soccer for two hours before it started raining.”
  9. Future Simple (Will):
    • Used to express predictions, promises, and spontaneous decisions.
    • Example: “I will call you tomorrow.”
  10. Future Continuous:
    • Used for actions that will be ongoing at a specific future time.
    • Example: “They will be traveling to Europe next month.”
  11. Future Perfect:
    • Used to express an action that will be completed before a specified future time.
    • Example: “By the time he arrives, we will have finished the presentation.”
  12. Future Perfect Continuous:
    • Used to show the duration of an action that will continue up to a specified future time.
    • Example: “She will have been working here for five years in September.”

4. Punctuation

Punctuation plays a vital role in conveying meaning, clarity, and organization in written English. Proper use of punctuation marks helps to structure sentences, indicate pauses, and connect ideas. Here are some essential punctuation marks and their uses:

  1. Period (.):
    • Indicates the end of a sentence.
    • Example: “She went to the store.”
  2. Comma (,):
    • Separates items in a list.
    • Sets off introductory phrases, clauses, or non-essential information.
    • Example: “I need to buy eggs, milk, and bread.”
  3. Semicolon (;):
    • Connects closely related independent clauses.
    • Separates items in a complex list when commas are already used within the items.
    • Example: “She studied hard; she passed the exam.”
  4. Colon (:):
    • Introduces a list, explanation, or quotation.
    • Used in formal writing to introduce a statement or explanation.
    • Example: “There are three countries on my bucket list: Italy, Japan, and Australia.”
  5. Question Mark (?):
    • Indicates the end of a direct question.
    • Example: “What time is the meeting?”
  6. Exclamation Mark (!):
    • Indicates strong emotion, surprise, or emphasis.
    • Example: “What a beautiful sunset!”
  7. Quotation Marks (” “):
    • Enclose direct speech or a quotation.
    • Example: She said, “I’ll be there.”
  8. Apostrophe (‘):
    • Indicates possession or contraction.
    • Example: “The dog’s tail wagged.” (possession) “It’s a beautiful day.” (contraction of “it is”)
  9. Hyphen (-):
    • Joins words to form compound words.
    • Used in some prefixes and to clarify meaning.
    • Example: “well-known,” “non-fiction,” “re-create.”

5. Passive and active voice

Passive and active voice are two different ways to structure sentences, indicating the focus and order of the subject and the action. Understanding when and how to use passive and active voice is important for effective communication and achieving a higher score on the IELTS exam.

Active Voice

In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. This structure is straightforward and often more direct.


  • Active: “The chef (subject) prepares (verb) delicious meals (object).”

Passive Voice

In passive voice, the focus is on the action being done to the subject. The subject receives the action rather than performing it. Passive voice is often used when the doer of the action is not important or known.


  • Passive: “Delicious meals (subject) are prepared (verb) by the chef (agent).”

When to use passive voice:

  • To shift the focus to the action itself rather than the doer.
  • When the doer of the action is unknown, unimportant, or needs to be omitted.
  • To vary sentence structure and style.
  • In formal or scientific writing.

When to use active voice:

  • To clearly identify the subject performing the action.
  • When the doer of the action is important and should be emphasized.
  • In most cases of everyday communication.