IELTS essays: common grammar mistakes to avoid

According to

We do not give our own opinions with ‘according to’.


  • According to scientists, music can heal.
  • In my opinion, music can heal. (NOT According to me, music can heal.)

Adjectives: order before nouns

When several adjectives come before a noun, they usually have to be put in a particular order.

Here are the most important rules.

Adjectives of size, length and height (e.g. round, big, long, tall etc.) often come first.

  • The round wooden table (NOT The wooden round table)

Adjectives of colour (e.g. red, blue) usually go before adjectives of origin (e.g. Spanish, Persian, Russian etc.).

  • Red Persian carpet (NOT Persian red carpet)

Adjectives of origin usually go before adjectives of material (e.g. glass, golden, leather, plastic etc.)

  • Spanish leather boots (NOT Leather Spanish boots)

Numbers usually go before adjectives.

  • Six big apples (NOT Big six apples)

Expressions with no prepositions

Prepositions are not normally used in expressions like next Sunday, last Friday, this morning, any time, every evening, all day and one day.

  • See you next Monday. (NOT See you on next Sunday.)
  • I am not free this evening. (NOT I am not free in this evening.)
  • Let’s meet one day. (NOT Let’s meet on one day.)
  • I was up all night. (NOT I was up at all night.)

Degree modifiers

We cannot use very with comparatives. Instead, we use other degree modifiers like much, far, very much, a lot, lots, any and no.

  • Her husband is much older than her. (NOT Her husband is very older than her.)
  • Chinese is far more difficult than French. OR Chinese is much more difficult than French. (NOT Chinese is very more difficult than French.)

One conjunction for two clauses

One conjunction is enough to join two clauses  – we do not usually use two.

  • I like him because he is honest. OR He is honest, so I like him. (NOT Because he is honest, so I like him.)

However, two conjunctions can come together when we connect two subordinate clauses with a coordinating conjunction.

  • We came back because we couldn’t catch the train, and because Mary got ill.

Uncountable nouns

We cannot use a/an with uncountable nouns. Here is a list of some common words which are usually uncountable in English. Corresponding countable expressions are also given.

Uncountable / countable

Accommodation / a place to live (NOT an accommodation)

Advice / a piece of advice; some advice (NOT an advice)

Baggage / a piece of baggage

Bread / a piece of bread

Chess / a game of chess

Chewing gum / a piece of chewing gum

Equipment / a tool etc.

Furniture / a piece of furniture; an article of furniture

Grass / a blade of grass

Information / a piece of information

Knowledge / a fact

Money / a note; a sum

News / a piece of news

Work / a job; a piece of work

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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