10 grammar rules you need to know for IELTS

By Edvoy• Last updated: Nov 8, 2023
10 grammar rules you need to know for IELTS
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Are you planning on taking the IELTS test?

If so, you need to make sure that you are familiar with the grammar rules that will be tested.

In this guide, we have listed 10 of the most important grammar rules that you need to know.

10 most important grammar rules

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a comprehensive exam that tests your knowledge of the English language.

Therefore, it's essential to have a good understanding of grammar rules to succeed in the IELTS test. Here are the 10 grammar rules you should know for the IELTS:

Subject-verb agreement

Subject-verb agreement is an important rule to know for the IELTS test.

This grammar rule concerns the use of singular and plural nouns with verbs in sentences. The Subject-Verb Agreement Rule states that the verb should be in its singular form when there is a single subject.

However, when there are two or more subjects connected by 'and', the verb should be in its plural form.

For example:

The cat and dogs (subjects) eat (verb) their dinner every night (correct).

The cat and dog (subjects) eats (verb) its dinner every night (incorrect).

It can also become confusing when singular nouns sound like they are plural, as this could lead to incorrect Subject-Verb Agreement.

For example, words like 'news' or 'scissors' sound plural but are singular. So when these nouns are used as subjects, the verb should be in its singular form.

The news (subject) is (verb) important to stay informed (correct).

The news (subject) are (verb) important to stay informed (incorrect).

Use of modal verbs

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb used in English that expresses possibility, obligation, and permission.

Examples of some common modal verbs include could, would, should, must and may.

Knowing how and when to use these verbs is essential as they are commonly tested during the IELTS exam. For instance, "could" is typically used for discussing past ability or possibility and "may" for present or future possibility.

Additionally, it is important to understand modal verb phrases such as "have to", "had better", and "be able to".

These phrases have nuanced meanings that can be confusing for non-native English speakers.

For instance, the phrase "have to" is used for talking about necessity or obligation, while "had better" expresses a warning or advice in a stronger way than simply using "should".

Additionally, the phrase "be able to" implies possibility rather than ability.

Also read: IELTS tips and tricks to score high

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Use of conditionals

Conditionals are used when giving examples, making comparisons or exceptions, expressing hypothetical situations, and more.

There are four main types of conditionals: zero (0), first (1), second (2), and third (3).

Zero Conditional: A zero conditional sentence describes something that is always true. This type of sentence does not involve any "if" statement or reference to a variable factor. For example, "If you heat ice, it melts."

First Conditional: First conditionals are used when discussing a potential future event that is likely to happen if a certain condition is met. The sentence includes an if clause and a main clause. For example, "If I get enough time to practice, I will ace this exam."

Second Conditional: Second conditionals are used to describe something that is not likely to happen in the future and often express an impossible or unlikely situation. As with first conditionals, this type of sentence also has both an if clause and the main clause. For example, "If I could fly, I would definitely go to London."

Third Conditional: Third conditional sentences are used to talk about something that did not happen in the past due to a certain unattainable condition present at the time. This conditional typically follows an if + past perfect verb formation. For example, "If I had studied harder, I would have cracked this test."

Use of gerunds

Gerunds are verbs that end in -ing, such as working, writing, studying, etc. They are used after certain prepositions (in, on, at) and verbs (like enjoy). For example:

"I am interested in studying English."

In this sentence, the verb "studying" is a gerund because it ends in "-ing."

Additionally, you can combine two gerunds together when talking about multiple activities. For example:

"I enjoy listening to Kishore Kumar and reading comics."

In this sentence, both "listening" and "reading" are gerunds.

Correct tense usage

Correct tense usage can help you achieve a higher score on the Writing paper, as well as boost your overall grade in the speaking section.

The key to using tenses correctly is understanding which one fits best with the context of the sentence or paragraph you are writing.

For example, when talking about past events, it's important to use the simple past tense - such as 'I went to school' rather than 'I am going to school'.

Similarly, if you are discussing something still ongoing today or in future timeframes, then using the present continuous and future tenses will be more appropriate - such as 'I am studying for the IELTS' or 'I will take the exam next month.'

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Active vs passive voice

Active voice is when the subject of a sentence performs an action, while passive voice is when the subject receives an action.

Active sentences typically have a more direct structure and are used frequently in everyday English conversations.

Passive sentences, on the other hand, can make it more challenging to understand who or what is performing the action in the sentence. For example:

Active Voice: They delivered the package yesterday.

Passive Voice: The package was delivered yesterday.

When taking the IELTS test, it's important to recognise and use active and passive voice correctly to demonstrate your understanding of English grammar.

Active voice is also preferred in most academic and professional writing contexts. Active voice will usually give you a higher score than incorrect or awkward-sounding sentences in passive voice.

Also read: List of IELTS Vocabulary Words

Proper word order

Proper word order involves using the right structure of words to make a sentence grammatically correct.

It helps you convey your ideas clearly and accurately, which makes it easier for examiners to understand what you are trying to say.

Proper word order plays an essential role in all four sections of the IELTS: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

In the Speaking section of the IELTS, proper word order can help you express yourself fluently and effectively. It also allows listeners to easily follow along with what you are saying.

Proper word order helps you understand the meaning of sentences, which is vital for finding answers in reading tests.

Proper word order also makes identifying keywords and phrases in questions easier, helping you make sense of spoken English during the listening test.

Use of adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives are used to describe nouns or pronouns, while adverbs are used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Adjectives and adverbs both have a comparative and superlative form.

Comparative forms compare two things (e.g., faster/fastest), and superlative forms compare three or more things (e.g., fastest).

When using these forms, it is essential to be aware of which words they modify as well as their position in the sentence; for instance, an adjective must come before a noun that it modifies, while an adverb typically follows the verb it modifies.

Additionally, some adjectives and adverbs have irregular forms. For example, "good" is an adjective that has an irregular comparative form of "better," and "well" is an adverb that has an irregular comparative form of "better."

It is important to be familiar with these forms to ensure accuracy on the IELTS writing test.

Watch our IELTS Lessons Playlist on YouTube. Our expert instructor covers all modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Click here.

Use of conjunctions

Conjunctions are joining words like "but," "so," and "and." They join two statements or clauses together by connecting them, allowing for a smoother flow.

This can help you get your point across more clearly and effectively in an essay or writing task.

For example, if you want to state two different points in one sentence, you can use a conjunction to do this: "I think studying for the IELTS exam is difficult but rewarding." In this sentence, the word "but" connects the two ideas together so that they both make sense.

You might also like: Essay Topics Ideas for IELTS

Use of articles

Articles are used in English to indicate whether a noun is specific or unspecific.

The definite article "the" indicates that a noun is specific; for example, "the apple" refers to one particular apple.

The indefinite article "a/an" suggests that the noun is unspecific, so "an apple" could refer to any apple out there.

It's important to be aware of when you should use articles and when you can omit them entirely to achieve.

For instance, when talking about something for the first time in a sentence, use "a/an" before it. Similarly, if you are referring to an event or activity that happens regularly, you don't need an article: "I go running every morning."

On the other hand, if you're referring to one particular event in the past or future, you should use "the": “I went to the park last week.”

Also read: How to prepare for IELTS?


By mastering these 10 rules of grammar, you can improve your chances of success on the IELTS exam.

These fundamental skills will also benefit you in other academic and professional settings.

By focusing on these areas and brushing up on your English grammar skills, you will have a better chance of succeeding in the IELTS exam.

Achieve your highest IELTS score!

Signup for your free IELTS masterclass with Edvoy.

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