Grammar for IELTS

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • A list of grammar points and topics that are necessary to achieve IELTS Band score 7 and higher in the IELTS Writing or Speaking exam section.

This will help you in your IELTS exam because:

  • You will find out how to structure your grammar study and revision while preparing for the IELTS exam.
  • You will learn what these grammar points look like and will be able to understand how to use them correctly.
  • You will see which grammar points are required for the highest level of language proficiency in Band 8 and Band 9.

You know that grammar is an important aspect in both the writing and the speaking section of the IELTS exam. Yet, it is also important to keep in mind that grammar is not only about how correctly you use tenses, sentence structures or adverbs. It is also about the range, or variety and complexity of the grammatical points you are expected to use.

If you want to avoid mistakes and keep using only simple structures and tenses, your score might not exceed 6.0, be it Speaking or Writing. This is why we would like to present a list of some grammar points, illustrated by examples, that are desirable in your writing or speech if you aim at 7.0 or higher. But remember, you need to use them correctly and appropriately in your sentences to obtain that wonderful high score.

Each subsequent band score involves an accurate and appropriate use of the grammar elements mentioned for the previous band. These grammar points can and should be used in your formal and informal letters, depending on the case, in your discursive essays, and, of course, in the Speaking part of the exam.

Band 7 - passive forms

Use Past Simple Passive when we don’t know who did something. The bendable straw was made in the 1930s somewhere in the United States.
Passive forms are used in news reporting, scientific writing and other kinds of writing where we are more interested in events and processes than in the person doing the action. A factory was set alight during the weekend and two million pounds’ worth of damage was caused.
When the situation is in the present and the sentence needs to be impersonal - the passive form of the verb plus the infinitive: The President is believed to be in contact with the Russians.
Same situation in the past - passive plus the pastinfinitive: He is said to have poisoned his opponents in order to gain power. Politicians in Burkina Faso are said to use underhand tactics, such as poisoning, against their opponents in order to gain power.

Second, third, and mixed conditionals 

The second conditional is used to talk about unlikely or imaginary states or events in the present or future (form = if + past simple/continuous + would/could/should/might). They would leave their jobs tomorrow and travel the world if they had the money.
The third conditional is used to talk about imaginary states or events in the past (form = if + past perfect + would/ could/should/might + have + past participle). If they had studied other cultures at school, they might have been more confident about travelling.
MIXED Conditional: A third conditional cause is sometimes linked to a second conditional result to show the imaginary present result of an imaginary past event or situation. If my parents had never met, I wouldn’t be here now! If pollution had been brought under control earlier, activists such as Greta Thunberg would not have appeared.
MIXED Conditional: A second conditional cause is sometimes linked to a third conditional result to show how an ongoing situation produced an effect in the past. If he knew about computers, he would have applied for that IT job. If the new workers were more proficient with technology, they would have (undoubtedly) applied for positions in the IT department.

Wish/would rather

Talking about the past – things you regret doing/not doing: wish / if only + past perfect Many parents wish they had not been so strict with their children when they were very young.
Talking about the present – things that haven’t come true now and things that might come true in the future: wish / if only + past simple Both were and was are acceptable but were is more formal. They wish they were lying on a beach somewhere instead of being here. Numerous IT students wish they were working for companies instead of constantly preparing for exams.
Talking about irritating habits – things which are annoying you: wish / if only + would He wishes his daughter would make smarter decisions. The electorate of Burundi wish their elected officials would make wiser decisions.
Would rather + past perfect is used to talk about wishes in the past. She’d rather we had gone to an Italian restaurant. The government of London would rather implement face recognition technology than increase the amount of Police on the streets.
Would rather + infinitive without to is used to talk generally about wishes in the present and future. The government would rather not give out too many benefits to young people.

Modals for speculation and deduction

could, might, may used to speculate about something the speaker or writer is unsure about: It could be a possible reason for air pollution, though the scientists are still doubtful. That possible new home we’re looking at might in fact be Mars. The answer to this situation may be to readvertise the job.
can’t/cannot and couldn’t/could not used to indicate certainty, in relation to impossible ideas and situations: Banning fossil fuels completely cannot be one of the possible solutions for improving energy efficiency. Banning fossil fuels completely, cannot (conceivably) be one of the possible solutions for improving energy efficiency.
could have, might have, may have are used to express uncertainty about something in the past. The dinosaurs may have survived without the meteor impact that seriously altered weather patterns at the time.
must have is used to express near-certainty about something in the past. It must have been bitterly disappointing for those citizens who had hoped for political change.

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If you need help with your essay writing, find out more about our essay correction service. Take a look at some IELTS writing task 2 questions to help you prepare.