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5 Common Grammar Mistakes in IELTS Writing

I have reviewed thousands of IELTS academic writing essays and I have noticed that some of the same grammar errors are made again and again. As grammatical range and accuracy makes up 25% of your writing score, having perfect sentences becomes very important.

Below are 5 of the most common IELTS writing mistakes that I regularly see, which means it is likely that you are making them too! They are easily avoidable once you are aware of them and knowing these common errors and fixing them now through practice will greatly raise your score.

5 Common Grammar Mistakes in IELTS Writing

1. Using Contractions

Contractions are used in the spoken English to shorten words and we use them frequently. However, they should not be used in the IELTS writing exams. You will loose silly points for this common mistake.

So instead use:

  • Cannot instead of Can’t
  • Do not instead of Don’t
  • I will instead of I’ll
  • It is instead of It’s

2. Inserting Numbers Instead of Words

Similar to above, I regularly see students typing a number instead of writing out the word for that number.  This shortcut has its place in some forms of writing, but should not be used in the IELTS writing exam.

  • Wrong Example: “Recent research shows that only 2 out of 10 individuals around the world today do not have mobile phones.”
  • Correct Example: ‘Recent research shows that only two out of ten individuals around the world today do not have mobile phones.”

3. Combining Two Complete Sentences with a Comma

I see this one time and time again. Unfortunately, you cannot combine two complete sentences with just a comma.  You either have to use a semicolon (;) or a conjunction (and/or/but).

  • Wrong Example: “This is because more ways of communication are now available, people are now being connected through mobile phones and a range of network devices.”
  • Correct Example: “This is because more ways of communication are available and people are being connected through mobile phones and a range of network devices.”

4. Adding ’s’ or ‘es’ to Uncountable Nouns

There are some nouns in the English language that are uncountable, and therefore you can NEVER make them plural by adding ’s’ or ‘es’. They will always paper in the singular form. 

There are quite a few, but the three I see repeatedly include:

  • Advice
  • Information
  • Research

If a noun is uncountable, you cannot use:

  • a plural verb: Recent researches have shown.” It should instead be: “Recent research has shown.”
  • a number: Three advices I would give…” It should instead be: “Three pieces of advice I would give…”
  • a few, a couple, many, a number of: A number of information shows…” It should instead be:“A lot of information shows…”

5. Using ‘The’ correctly

Article misuse is one of the most frequent mistakes by ESL students.  For many learners, it just isn’t part of their native language, so learning it in English makes it doubly hard.  Here are a few guidelines to help you use ‘the’ in the correct way.

We use ‘the’ before:

  • places where the name refers to a group of islands or states: the USA, the UK, the Middle East, the UAE
  • cardinal numbers:  the first of day of the month, the second survey shows
  • superlatives: the shortest, the longest, the lowest, the highest
  • nouns when you are talking about a specific person, place or thing: the government of India, the river in Calcutta, India, the man across the street has a beard
  • nouns where there is only one in the entire world: the internet, the environment, the ozone layer, the atmosphere

We don’t use ‘the’ before: 

  • a single place or country: Germany, India, Korea.
  • nouns when you are talking generally about more than one.  Often here the word converts to a plural: governments around the world; rivers in India; many men have beards


Now that you know these common grammatical mistakes, check out some of the other mistakes candidates make in IELTS writing.

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