Category: IELTS Speaking

Youths or young people?

ūüė¶ These days¬†youths are more challenged by the future because making decisions about the future is not easy.

This is grammatically correct but inappropriate.

The countable noun youth¬†tends to have negative connotations, especially when it’s plural or part of the lexical phrase the youth of today:

  • Youths at football matches often cause trouble.
  • The youth of today have no respect for others.

Youths are troublemakers, at that awkward age between childhood and adulthood when they rebel against authority and indulge in sex, drugs and rock and roll, often with negative consequences. Youths hang around town in gangs and old ladies are afraid of them.


‘Youths’ in a residential area.

Most of the time in IELTS Task 2 essays you want to maintain a more positive – or at least neutral – attitude to young people, and so it’s probably best to refer to them as exactly that –¬†young people!

These days young people are more challenged by the future because making decisions about the future is not easy.

Another option for IELTS writing would be:

These days the younger generation are more challenged by the future because making decisions about the future is not easy.


Clean living young people facing the future as responsible members of society!

In IELTS Task 2 you also often want to make a prediction about how a situation may affect young people in the future. In this case you are talking about future generations:

  • Global warming is a problem that governments need to solve for the sake of future generations.
  • Future generations will prosper as long as they follow a healthy lifestyle.

Notice that we assume there will be more than one future generation and if we’re generalising then there is no article (the).






‘One of’ or ‘a’?

ūüė¶ Euthanasia may be one of ways to deliver health resources fairly to people who still want to live.

flag-of-indonesia This is a direct translation from Bahasa Indonesia: ‘salah satu’.

For every noun in English it is important to communicate one of three meanings:

In the opening example the writer communicated successfully. However, the sentence is gramatically incorrect. If you really must use ‘one of’ then you need more grammar:

  • Euthanasia may be one of several ways to deliver.. (‘several’ behaves like ‘many’)
  • Euthanasia may be one of the best ways to deliver.. (‘one of’ + the + superlative adjective + plural count noun)

You can see how easy it can be to introduce grammatical error, or to choose the wrong word to follow ‘one of’! A much easier and far more common way to communicate ‘one of many’ is using the indefinite article ‘a’ (or ‘an’) – NOT ‘one of’.

Want to communicate one of manyUse the indefinite article:

ūüôā Euthanasia may be a way to deliver health resources fairly to people who still want to live.

For more examples of article use, click the articles tag.


Comprise or consist?

ūüė¶ Overall, the tap comprise of many parts.

This is an easy one to get wrong. Your options here are:

  • Overall, the tap comprises many parts.
  • Overall, the tap is comprised of many parts.
  • Overall, the tap consists of many parts.

..but NOT comprise of!


A refreshing refreshment

ūüė¶ Students can take a break while they are studying in college for refreshing.

flag-of-indonesia¬†This word has been borrowed from English and used in Indonesian as a noun. However, in English ‘refreshing’ is not a noun, and the closest noun available is ‘refreshment’, but this is used almost exclusively for food and drink.

‘Refreshing’ is an adjective:

  • Students can take a refreshing break while they are studying at college.
  • Taking a break while studying at college can be refreshing.

Refreshed and refreshing

IELTS candidates are often asked to explain why they enjoy certain activities, for example going to the beach at the weekend. In this case both the adjectives ‘refreshing’ and ‘refreshed’ might be used:

  • Going to the beach at the weekend is refreshing.
  • When I go to the beach at the weekend I feel refreshed.

Refreshing and refreshed follow the same rule as bored and boring, where the __ing form is for the source, and the __ed form is used for the receiver:

  • I feel refreshed. (receiver: I)
  • Going to the beach is refreshing. (source:¬†Going to the beach)


Finally, you might use the verb ‘refresh’:

  • I go to the beach at the weekend to refresh myself.

Notice that in this case you must include an object: refresh¬†myself. Also notice that when you’re explaining why you do something, you use to + V1 (not for).

Further study

Check out these other examples of ‘refreshing’.



It is called as ‘bad grammar’

ūüė¶ People call this as the ‘big data era’.

flag-of-indonesia In Bahasa Indonesia disebut (called) collocates strongly with sebagai (as). Not so in English. Indeed, sebagai is often redundant in English, except when it collocates with certain verbs.

The correct options here are:

  1. People call this the ‘big data era’. (active¬†call without¬†as)
  2. This era is called the ‘big data era’. (passive¬†call without¬†as)
  3. This era is known as the ‘big data era’. (passive¬†know with¬†as)

Most native speakers would probably use number 1, except when the term being introduced is somehow scientific:

Liquids tend to travel quickly along very narrow spaces. This phenomenon is known as capillary attraction.

Be careful. If you want to use¬†known as then you need to begin with some of the defining characteristics of the ‘known’ phenomenon:

Recently data¬†has become so¬†complex that traditional¬†data¬†processing application software is inadequate to deal with it. This data is now known as ‘big data’.

flag-of-indonesia Indonesians.. Once again, be careful with sebagai! It collocates differently in English.


Ask the menu!

menu couple 450

Non-native speakers having dinner!

flag-of-indonesia¬†This is a common mistake made by Indonesians translating ‘tanya’ instead of ‘minta’.

The options in English are (take a deep breath!):

  1. I’ll ask the waiter. (ask someone)
  2. I’ll ask the waiter to bring us the menu. (ask someone to do something)
  3. I’ll ask the waiter about the menu. (ask someone about something/someone)
  4. I’ll ask the waiter for the menu. (ask someone for something)
  5. I’ll ask for the menu. (ask for something/someone)

Most native speakers would probably use Number 5.

Notice that ask something is not in this list. The picture below shows what might happen if you ask the menu!

menu talk 300

Most menus cannot answer questions!

flag-of-indonesia¬†Possibly there are different ways to translate the correct forms into Indonesian. I know that I’m never confident when using¬†tanya and¬†minta¬†in Indonesian. If you have any suggestions, please share in the comments box below!



Worthy (of) worth?

ūüė¶ Taking a break between school and university is worthy of their time.

OK so here it would be better to write:

ūüôā Taking a break between school and university is worth doing.

And so why, in this situation, is it better to write worth rather than worthy (of)?


Use worth when you want to evaluate a thing, person, or action:

  • Exercise is worth doing. (positive evaluation of ‘exercise’)
  • Smoking isn’t worth it! (negative evaluation of ‘smoking’)
  • That guy’s worth a million dollars. (positive financial evaluation)

This is particularly useful when you want to evaluate claims in IELTS Task 2 writing.

Worthy (of)

Use worthy (of) when you want to say that a thing, person or action deserves attention, effort, or respect. The key word here is deserve:

  • He’s not worthy. (= He doesn’t deserve¬†our respect.)
  • Two incidents are worthy of mention here. (= Two incidents deserve¬†our attention.)
  • The poem is worthy of deep reflection. (= The poem deserves our effort.)

Note that worthy (of) is now considered quite old fashioned. These days it is used more often to refer to people rather than things. The last two examples would now more likely be written:

  • Two incidents are worth mentioning here.
  • The poem is worth reflecting upon.

Unfortunately there are some grammar and collocation issues relating to the word worth. Lucky for you, these are described with examples in a previous post.