10 Useful Tips and Rules of English Grammar to Remember when taking an IELTS Test

Grammar is an essential part of mastering the English Language. Understanding and correctly applying the rules of English grammar is, therefore, essential to the successful use of your Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing skills in an IELTS Test. However, learning the English grammar rules may be perplexing and even tedious at times, but you can begin to overcome such difficulties by drawing on a few crucial grammar tips and rules.

In this article there are 10 useful tips and rules of grammar to understand and utilise when taking an IELTS Test.


1. Understand the ‘Simple Aspect’ Verb Tenses

The ‘Simple Aspect’ verb tense form is used to talk about general, permanent, or routine actions:

  • I drink coffee every morning.
  • The Earth revolves around the Sun.

The above verb examples imply that the actions are being performed on a regular basis.  The past tense form of the verb must be used if those regular actions occurred in the past.


2. Understand the ‘Simple Past’ and ‘Present Perfect’ Verb Tenses

You apply the ‘Simple Past’ verb tense form to express past actions that have no connection with or impact upon the present:

  • Michael yelled at Toby yesterday.

However, if the action occurred in the past but is somehow affecting the present, you must use the ‘Present Perfect’ verb tense form:

Michael has lived in his house since 2015.   (Michael is still living in the house today)

3. Formal ‘Passive Voice’

The secret behind sounding formal and impersonal when speaking and writing in English is the use of ‘Passive Voice’.  It is formed by using the verb ‘to be’ in the tense form you want with a past participle:

  • 25% fewer people were infected by the disease last year.

The ‘Passive Voice’ is being applied above, with the past tense form of ‘to be’ and the past participle of the verb ‘infect’.


4. Modal Verbs

Modal verbs are utilised when you want to express different levels of certainty:

  • Could’, ‘might’ and ‘may’ can be used to express possible but uncertain actions in the future, with ‘might’ being subtly less certain than ‘may’;
  • Can’ states general facts about the present, while ‘could’ is the past tense form of ‘can’;
  • Must is used to assert confirmation, with ‘must have’ as the past tense form.

English Grammar when taking IELTS Test

5. The 3 Rules of using Capital Letters

Your written text will look professional with the correct application of capital letters, and it is not difficult to memorise the rules.  Put a capital letter for:

  • Every first letter in a sentence, regardless of what type of word it is;
  • Proper nouns, as in the names of people (James), places (London), months of the year (December), and days of the week (Monday);
  • Honorifics and formal titles like Mr. Smith, Mrs. Jones, Ms. Taylor, and President Lincoln.


6. Collective Nouns

It can be confusing when there is a collective noun as the subject of a sentence and you must decide whether to assign a plural or singular verb form.  If the collective noun represents a group acting as one unit, it needs a singular verb form. However, when the collective noun consists of several entities acting independently, a plural verb form is required:

  • The government is controlling the process.  (the government is acting as one unit)
  • The staff are quarrelling with each other.  (the staff consists of different employees)

7. Avoid Sentence Fragments

Always write complete sentences that have the two fundamental parts of a ‘Subject’ and a ‘Verb’ (with the verb forming part of a ‘Predicate’ stating something about the subject):

  • He eats his bread very quickly.
  • I heard ‘God Save the Queen’ being sung at a royal theatre performance.

If one of these essential parts of a sentence is missing, you will get a sentence fragment that makes no sense.  Accurate and clear speaking and writing must always be done using complete sentences.


8. Write Complex Sentences with Subordinate Clauses

Use of ‘complex sentences’ in an IELTS Writing task will gain you higher marks.  A ‘complex sentence’ contains a subordinate clause that has no meaning when standing alone.  A subordinate clause adds more information to the main clause of a sentence.

  • You should take an umbrella because it might rain today.
  • When I go to the supermarket I must buy some bread.

Try to learn more subordinate conjunctions that you can utilise to construct perfect ‘complex sentences’ in your IELTS Test.


9. Use of Dangling Prepositions

A ‘Dangling Preposition’ occurs when a preposition is isolated from its object:

  • Whom are you yelling at?
  • I wonder who this book was written by?

It is not an error to end a sentence with a preposition.  In emails, text messages, and notes to friends, it is perfectly acceptable to use a ‘Dangling Preposition’ as a more informal writing style.  But when needing to write a very formal research paper or submit a business proposal, avoid ending sentences with prepositions.

english grammar when taking IELTS test

10. Beware of making Spelling Mistakes

Here are some important spelling rules to memorise so that basic spelling mistakes can be avoided in your IELTS Writing task:

  • Always add –ly to an adjective that you want to turn into an adverb

consistent consistently

normal – normally

  • Remove the –e in a verb before adding –ing and –ed

fire firing fired

  • If a verb ends in -ie, change it to -ying when adding ing

tie tying

These are just a few essential insights into the correct use of English grammar rules.  Learning how to apply such grammar rules will help to improve your overall English proficiency and enable you to score a far higher mark in your IELTS Test. 

To immediately extend your understanding of all the rules of English grammar, whilst also strengthening the core English language skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing, you must seek the support of an experienced IELTS private tutor.  At ‘English for Everyone’, Mr. Jeff is a native-speaking British-trained teacher who will provide you with the best English class for adults in Johor Bahru.  So get in touch with Mr. Jeff now!