Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ten Common Misused Phrases in the IELTS

Writing needs good vocabulary on words and expressions. People improve their vocabulary by reading books, magazines, the paper; listening to English songs and conversations; watching movies and American series; and practicing writing essays. Through these different practices, a person will be able to build the skill, develop it and further use it especially on taking English competency examinations such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The IELTS examination is a paper-based examination gauging an individual’s proficiency in using the English language. The test uses the four language skills – speaking, listening, reading and writing- in measuring one’s competency in the English language. Because of this, candidates for the examination, choose to attend classes in different IELTS review centers that will help them understand the test format and develop their skills better. 

One thing taught in review centers are some misused phrases that candidates usually commit. Here are ten misused phrases in the IELTS one should avoid. 

1.       On the contrary
This phrase is used to emphasize a negative statement on a previous statement. Most of the time, the idea presented following the phrase is somehow not usually accepted (as an idea) but is correct. The idea is to bring an alternative option to the common idea.

John Guevarra’s family and relatives were known to excel in the field of medicine and science. They have already put up a lot hospitals and clinic around the globe. On the contrary, John’s brother, Michael, is a certified public accountant.

2.       In contrast
Like on the contrary, this phrase is used to show contradicting ideas. Meaning to say, you are comparing two ideas and you use the expression to show the other side of one idea, not to emphasize your own viewpoint.

There has been an increase in the number of unemployment rate in Cebu City. In contrast, Davao City has seen a 10% increase on the employment rate since 2009.

3.       Used to + verb
When used to is paired with the original form of the verb indicates a past action or condition that existed. For example, you can say, I used to be a model. It means that in the past you were a model but now you are not.  (note: be (highlighted in red) is a verb).

I used to live in a coastal barangay in the Philippines.

4.       Used to + verb (ing)
If used to is paired with a verb in ~ing, it means that something or an action is not new or strange for you to do. For instance, you say, I am used to using chopsticks. This means that somebody does not find it strange to use chopsticks. He or she can use it and it is not new for him or her.

I used to loving the shore before factories were built here in our place.

5.       I could care less
This expression is totally wrong as the right expression says , I couldn’t care less. It means that you do not care much on something because you have no care to give. This is a misused expression commonly heard in conversations.

I couldn’t care less on who will win the elections. I am more concerned with my family’s welfare.

6.       Alternately and alternatively
Alternately simply means one after another; hence, it is considered an adverb. On the other hand, alternatively means “on the other hand” one or another.

The organization is using the power generated from the sun and the power produced from the grid alternately.
Group A is planning to create a vehicle that will use biogas. Alternatively, group B will be responsible for a vehicle that will use solar energy.

7.       Intensive purposes
This has been quite evident in some writing and this is totally a huge mistake. This should be written as “for all intent and purposes.”

For all intent and purposes, a financial statement for all company expenses must be posted on the bulletin board.

8.       Kind of and Sort of
These are okay in informal conversation or writings. However, when writing a formal type of essay, better use the expressions somewhat or slightly.

Formal: The left eye is somewhat bigger than the right eye.
Informal: The left eye is kind of bigger than the right eye.

9.       Due to the fact that
This is too words and it makes your sentence wrong. If you mean “because”, settle with “due to”. Therefore, avoid using the said expression.

 The cliff eroded due to the strong waves from the sea.
The cliff eroded because of the strong waves from the sea.

10.   The reason why is because
Redundancy at its peak! “The reason is” should be used rather than this expression. Do not make expressions longer just to sound smart.

Lack of practice is one of the reasons why people fail the IELTS exam.
Most people fail the IELTS exam because of lack of practice.

In writing or speaking, practice makes it perfect. What candidates need is the right IELTS training and knowledge on the things to avoid and must not do in creating their responses. 

More useful resources can be found at:

IELTS Exams Tipshttp://www.ieltsexamstips.com

You can download the following for free:

IELTS Sample Essay – Brain Drain – 

Popular IELTS Writing Topics – General Training

Popular IELTS Speaking Topics


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