How To Overcome Grammatical Disadvantage For IELTS

Written By: Claudia Jeffrey

Author: Claudia Jeffrey

Considering the marking criteria of IELTS, 25% of marks are comprised of error-free grammatical structure for both writing and speaking. It is natural to make frequent grammatical mistakes while learning a new language. Factually, if more than half of your sentences have any grammatical errors, you will not be going to have more than a score of 6 for your grammatical accuracy. Hence, to score for a 7 or higher, you have to make more than 50% of your sentences entirely mistake-free.

Most people make more or less similar mistakes and errors in their oral and written tests. Fortunately, there is a solution to showing some of your practice tests to a native speaker or a tutor to establish your common mistakes and learn the ways to overcome these grammatical disadvantages. When you will be aware of your errors, you will be able to fix them easily by practicing, and this will lead you to improve your scores and make you an expert with concise writing.

Below are the top 10 common mistakes of grammar and some advice on how to overcome them.

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

  • Uncountable nouns always have to be in a singular form and cannot be plural. These may include; Information, Education, food, advice, money, shopping, traffic, work, literature, and travel.
  • You cannot use a number if a noun is uncountable (four food, two advises), a plural verb, a/an (an entertainment), a few, a couple of, many (a few researches).

Noun-Verb Agreement

  • A verb has to agree with the noun. If a plural noun is used, then a plural verb should be used and vice versa. For example; there is some food in the kitchen, here is homework for you, and there are eggs in the basket.

Use of the word ‘The’

  • “The” can be used when any singular noun in a particular area. For example; the police, the river, the government, the bridge, and the hospital. Also, when something is just one in the whole world or universe; the internet, the ozone layer, the environment, and the atmosphere. “The” is used with numeric and cardinal numbers as; the first, the second, the third.
  • “The” is used as a prefix with superlative words such as; the least impressive, the worst, the lowest, the most beautiful and the shortest. With places where the name refers to a group of states or islands like; the Maldives, the Middle East, the USA, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • To describe general things like, the motorbike is the most common form of transport in Asia, exercise is good for the body, and the role of the teacher has changed in recent years.
  • Also, with the abstract nouns to demonstrate a process, situation, or a change. For example; the improvement in living standards, the development of the town accelerated.
  • Don’t use “the” with a single place like; China, Vietnam, Europe, South America. Also, in general conversations with the use of plurals; Japanese cars are very reliable, dogs don’t like cats, and German products are very high quality.

–ing or to + infinitive

  • We use to + infinitive verb after the following verbs: refuse, promise, prepare, how, would like, want, seem, offer, learn, hope, help, deserve, decide, afford, and ask.
  • Also, We use verb–ing after the following verbs: finish, enjoy, deny, suggest, mind, keep, involve, recommend, practice, imagine, give up, consider, carry on, and avoid.
  • For Example, I would like to study overseas. While ‘like’ can be followed by –ing or to + infinitive. Like; I would recommend checking your writing for mistakes, or I’ve finished writing my essay.

Use of Articles Before Noun Phrases

  • Include a/an before adjective singular noun combinations such as; a steady increase, a very small percentage a massive improvement, an overall majority, a really strong argument.
  • Some exception sentences have the additional word “of” with a noun phrase such as; an equal number of, a small/large/equal proportion of, a wide range of, a large/small number of.
  • Some rare Exceptions are; quite a few people, to a certain extent/degree.

Use of Commas

  • In IELTS writing test, commas are used with liking phrases or discourse markers to link together ideas such as; firstly, secondly, in conclusion, however, on the other hand, for example, on the one hand, nevertheless, in summary.
  • You can use a comma after a discourse marker that introduces a sentence like; On the one hand, motor vehicles are said to be the leading cause. Also, commas can be used on either side of discourse markers in the middle of sentences as well; deforestations are mostly to blame for global warming, for example, for livestock and factories.

Verb Tenses

Always consider the below tense you should use in a particular situation:

  • Past Simple is defined with an act that began and finished in the past.
  • Past Continuous is referred to when an act that was in progress at a specific time in the past and to talk about an act that was happening when another event has occurred in the past.
  • Past Perfect is used when we talk about something that was completed in the past before another activity or another time.
  • Past Perfect Continuous elaborates when we write about an act in progress in the past that is recent to another time or activity, or we discuss about the duration of an event that was in development process prior to another event in the history.
  • Present simple is used for general statements of fact and things that are always true as universal truth.
  • Present continuous used for something in progress this week, month or year, an act at the moment of speaking; that is present and to talk about a future planned event.
  • Present Perfect is used for an act that has occurred in past and is repeating before the present, an act that took place in the past at an indefinite time and an activity that began in the past and continues until now.
  • Present Perfect Continuous is included in recent general activity in progress and to show the duration of an event that happened in the past and continues until now.
  • Future Simple is used to express a willingness to do something in future and to predict or plan for it.
  • Future Continuous elaborates an action that will be in progress in the future at a decided time.
  • Future Perfect works when we have to describe an act that will be completed in the future before an event.
  • Future Perfect Continuous demonstrates the duration of an act or event that will be in progress in the future before another time or event.

Prepositions after Nouns and Adjectives

Often students get confused with which prepositions to use after nouns and adjectives. Here are some common expressions:

  • at: Bad at, Good at, Surprised at
  • about: Pleased about, Angry about, Disappointed about, Worried about
  • with: Pleased with, Angry with, Disappointed with
  • in: increase in, decrease in, drop in, rise in, fall in
  • between: difference between
  • of: number of, example of, percentage of, advantage/disadvantage of, use of


  • Apostrophes are used to shorten words or make contractions. They are commonly used more in spoken English and hence not tested in academic writing tests. For example; Cannot-Can’t, Do not- Don’t, I will- I’ll.
  • We can also use apostrophes to show possession as well. Like; John’s book and Mary’s brother. Apostrophes are not used with possessive pronouns such as: The book is not theirs it’s ours.

Common Spelling Mistakes

Some common spelling mistakes that students make are they get confused with UK and US spells. The best way to avoid spell mistakes is to practice writing those differences regularly to make it a habit. Other common errors include the confusion between to or too, there or their, though or through and has or have.

Hopefully, the above article will be helpful for the readers to overcome the common grammatical disadvantages of IELTS. Good luck!