9 Common Grammar Mistakes to be Avoided in IELTS

I have a good news for you. I made a grammar mistake in the above sentence. But wait the good news is...

Indulekha Prabha Written by Indulekha Prabha · 3 min read >
common grammar mistakes in ielts writing

I have a good news for you.

I made a grammar mistake in the above sentence. But wait the good news is that you’re going to know about these common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them in your IELTS exam.

By the way, the correct sentence is “I have good news for you.”

Let’s get started.

How much grammar mistake is pardonable?

If you are aiming to score well in IELTS then you must be very cautious and not let grammar mistakes get the better of you. Remember, 25% of your marks in writing and speaking are carried by grammar. 

If more than 50% of your sentences are not error-free, then you will not get Band-6 for grammatical range and accuracy. If, however, you are looking for Band 8 or 9 then you must bring your grammar mistakes down to zero.

List of Common Grammar Mistakes:

Years of marking IELTS answer scripts revealed a trend in grammar errors. We have put down together 9 such grammar mistakes that are found frequently in IELTS answers:

1. Article misuse: The use of “the”.

When to use “the”:

  1. It is used before something specific in a particular location.

Example: The government of India; The blue umbrella in her hand; The shop next to my school.

  1. It is used before superlatives.

Example: He is the best wicket-keeper the world has ever seen! ; Dog-earing pages to mark a book is the worst practice ever; Wild strawberries are the sweetest of all.

  1. Before cardinal numbers.

Example: Adam and Eve were the first humans on earth; Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of America.

  1. Before places whose name refers to a group of states or islands.

Example: She is from the Maldives; Have you been to the U.K?

  1. Before something that is the only thing in the world.

Example: The internet is a wonderful invention of mankind; The Sun rises in the east.

  1. Before abstract nouns that describe a situation, process, quality or change.

Example: There has an improvement of the living standards

; The welding will take a lot of time.

  1. Before nouns that describe general things.

Exercise is good for the body; You cannot expect the weather to get any better today.

When not to use “the”.

  1. A single place or country.

Example: I am going to Scotland next month;

Rishi is from Kolkata.

  1. When you are talking generally about more than one noun.

Example: Many girls like pink; There are many rivers in India.

2. Subject-Verb Agreement.

Agreement of verb with a subject is the most basic aspect of an error-free sentence. You must remember that when the subject of a sentence is Singular, the verb that follows should end with an “S”.

Example: Stuart writes very slowly; A cake makes the celebration complete. 

However, when the subject of a sentence is plural, the verb that follows should remain as it is.

Example: The trees make weird shadows on the wall at night; Sports cars run very fast.

3. Countable and Uncountable Nouns.

Uncountable nouns, as the name suggest, cannot be counted and are therefore always in the singular form. Countable Nouns are those nouns which have plural forms. Some uncountable nouns (nouns that do not have plural forms) that students often get wrong in the IELTS test are:

Advice
Advertising
Food
Information
Knowledge
Education
Money
Traffic
Shopping
Travel
Entertainment
Happiness
Literature
Work
Research

4. Using Comma

Commas indicate a brief pause and they cannot be used as conjunctions. Commas do not join sentences. However, Linking words or discourse markers, which connect two ideas, phrases or sentences, are always followed by a comma.

Example: Sam is ready to get married. However, he is not sure if Emily is the right person for him.

The project was almost complete. Still, they put up an all-nighter.

5. Using Contractions.

Contractions are commonly used in English. However, you end up losing marks if you use them in your writing in IELTS.

Therefore, it is better to write:

-cannot instead of can’t

-is not instead of isn’t

-does not instead of doesn’t

6. Prepositions after Adjectives or Nouns.

Mastering prepositions can be challenging. We admit it. Students often get confused about what preposition to put when. To make it easier for you, here are some commonly used prepositions:

At:

Bad at (something)
Good at (something)
Surprised at (something)

About or with:
Pleased about (something)
Pleased with (someone)
Angry about (something)
Angry with (someone)
Disappointed about (something)
Disappointed with (someone)
Worried about (something or someone)

In:

rise in
decrease in
increase in
fall in
drop-in
Between:
difference between

Of:
advantage/disadvantage of
example of
number of
percentage of
use of

7. Using Apostrophes.

Apostrophes are used in two cases:

  1. To denote possession.

Example: Julia’s book; Michael’s guitar; Peoples’ magazine

  1. To create a contraction of a word

Example: Isn’t (Is not); Doesn’t (Does not)

You must remember that there is no apostrophe in plural forms of the noun.

8. Inserting numbers instead of words.

Another common mistake we encountered is using numbers instead of writing them down in words.

Example: You should write: Five out of ten individuals complained about the taste.

Instead of:

5 out of 7 individuals complained about the taste.

9. Using Articles before noun Phrases.

You must remember to include a/an before adjective singular noun combinations.

Example: a massive improvement, a steady increase, an overall majority, a very small percentage, a really strong argument.

Some exceptions include the word ‘of’ after the noun phrase: a wide range of, an equal number of, a large/small number of, a small/large/equal proportion of.

Exceptions: quite a few people, to a certain extent/degree.

Conclusion

Grammar mistakes may look simple, but they destroy the sense, structure, and legibility of a sentence. Therefore it is very important to keep an eye out for grammatical errors. 

As we have mentioned previously, in order to secure Band 8-9, your writing must completely error-free. You can achieve this simply by thorough practice and expert guidance. This fairly exhaustive list of common grammar mistakes should make you much more at your ease with your IELTS preparation.

Written by Indulekha Prabha
My name is Indulekha Prabha. I am an English teacher and a content writer by profession. When I'm not working you can find me writing fiction, reading poetry and painting. Profile

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