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February 15, 2012


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disadvantages, it seems to me that

hi simons, u put comma before it instead of fullstop...
in conclusion
if i m nt wrong...

...it seems to me that the impact of television is greater.

Hi Simon,

Shouldn't it read "the greatest" instead of "greater", since you're comparing 3 things?

Hi Jay,

I'm afraid you're wrong. The comma is necessary because of the word 'although'. Here's a shorter example:

"Although books are good, it seems to me that TV is better."


Hi Bassel,

No, I'm implying that the influence of TV is "greater than the influence of books and radio".

Hi, Simon,

I have 2 questions about the main bodies.

Problem 1. I wrote a paragraph about disadvantage and advantage like this:

Paragraph 2 (main body)
The main disadvantage is that there are fewer skilled workers available in regional areas. …. Another drawback is that …..

My question:
Can I begin this paragraph directly with “the main disadvantage is that…” ? It seems to me that you ask us to begin this paragraph with a topic sentence like: There are several drawbacks of encouraging industries and business to regional areas. (but in the first paragraph, I have written: While this trend has some disadvantages, I would argue that there are more benefits.)

Problem 2.

When I use the structure: firstly, secondly, finally, I find there are at least two approaches after these words:

Approach 1: write at least two sentences: Firstly, a topic sentence + a sentence suggesting the reason or result.

Approach 2: Firstly, a sentence combing the topic sentence and the sentence suggestion the reason or result by using some linking words.

My question is: Is either of the two approaches acceptable? Which is better?

For instance: I wrote a paragraph like this:

Approach 1: Finally, the environment in cities is sure to be better. This trend not only avoids further overcrowding, heavier traffic, but improves air quality thanks to the decline in the consumption of fuel by vehicles and machines of the companies.

Approach 2: I can use “because” linking the two sentence: Finally, the environment in cities is sure to be better because this trend …


Hi Simon,

Excuse me I have an irrelevant question, which has confused me for a long time

I met a man in the past, should I use past tense to describe his personality (like...he had a positive outlook on life) when I'm talking the time i met him?

I get confused because I think(?) people use past tense to describe someone passed away
But this man is one of my friends now and he's alive

Thank you

Hi Simon
My private teacher (also an examiner)said that the Introduction should cover all areas that I will write in the body so that makes it longer.I used to keep it short and simple like you suggested,anyway please lead me to the solution.

Can you make more diagram or a process, Simon please? I wanted to improve my sentences in a passive form. I believe by reading your examples truly help me to develop my writing as well as my speaking skills. Your such a great teacher you know how to make things easy in order for your students to grasp English language in a simple way.



These days people pay more attention to artists (writers, painters and so on) and give less importance to science and technology. Do you agree or disagree with this views?
Can give me ideas to arrange this type of essay


Hi Bart,

Neither of your problems are really problems! Your ideas are fine, and all of the approaches you suggested are correct and equally good. As long as the ideas are relevant, small differences in approach will have no effect on your score.


Hi Leslie,

If you met him in the past and you haven't seen him since, or you want to describe his character/behaviour at that time, use the past. If you still know him and his character is still the same as it was, use the present.


Hi Apples,

I completely agree with your teacher. However, I try to cover everything in just 2 sentences. Here's how I do it:



Hi Gwapo,

Ok, I'll try to do another process diagram lesson soon.


Hi Ayush,

You're very close to getting a 7, so you just need to make small improvements e.g. explain your ideas in a bit more detail, or try to reduce the number of small mistakes you make. Keep practising and focus on small improvements.

Hi Nisha,

For that question, it might be best to disagree - you could argue that equal attention is given to both artists AND scientists. Then you could write 2 main body paragraphs 1) explain the importance of artists in society, give examples etc. 2) explain the importance of people involved in science and technology.

Hi Simon,
I get stuck with this question writing task2:
"Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree? What other measures do you think might be effective?"

>>>> It seems to me that this question is "two-part" ones. Should i divide into 4 paragraph like this:
- introduction: express my idea (disagree), and i think that there are other way to deal with this problem.
- body 1: why do i disagree?
- body 2: The way that i think more effectively.
- conclusion: rephrase my idea as introduction

Does any question with two question, we always do like this?

Simmon, I have learnt a lot from your site, why didn'I find your site EARLIER?! Whatever, wish me good luck in the exam of Feb.18. HOPE I CAN GET A SATISFYING GRADE!

Hi Hathu,

You've definitely got the right idea. That's how I would do it. Yes, do all 2-part questions in that way.


Best of luck Irene!

hi simon,i do commend your job. u do a great piece of work. your site has built my confidence nd hopefully i can deliver my best in tomorrow's exam,,,tanx a lote,,

where i can get strategies to write task2

Hi Simon
After searching all the types of introductions and conclusions in your website I found only one essay dealing purely with discussion questions without giving our opinion.
Please if you can highlight more about this issue and giving us another example of introduction/conclusion writing to use it as template.
Thank you

Hi, Simon,

I have two questions:

1. what is the exact meaning of the sentence: It can be argued that...(which you used in your essay)

2. what is the difference between "justifiable" and "justified"? Are they interchangeable when I say: It is justifiable for someone to do something.


Can we use THE before plural nouns?
because on one of ur lessons u wrote :
the table shows the percentage of different categories of families living in poverty in australia in 1999
and u said that we can paraphrase it like
the chart compares percentages of australia from....

why u didnt U use THE before plural-precesntages- in this case..thx beforehand:)

Hi Simon
It is me again, I have a question concerning Writing task 2.
International travel makes people prejudiced rather than broad-minded. What are its causes and what measures can be taken to solve this problem?
What should we write about this question? Is it right to write about the reasons of some problems that might happen between the tourist and the locals, and some solutions for them, or we should write about other things...(I don't know who will be prejudiced and who less broad-minded)
Thank you for your help

Hi Bart,
This is a good question! I think there is a subtle difference in meaning between them.
According to Collins Cobuild Dictionary,

If you describe a decision, action, or idea as justified, you think it is reasonable and acceptable.
In my opinion, the decision was wholly justified. (you think the decision was reasonable.)

An action, situation, emotion, or idea that is justifiable is acceptable or correct because there is a good reason for it.
The violence of the revolutionary years was justifiable on the grounds of political necessity. (You think there is a good reason for this action.)

Hi Simon . I woul like to ask you if the question is about discussion(two people views) and giving opinion. In the two bodies, should I start with the one I support or with the other which I disagree with???

Hi, Simon,

Thanks. I seem to have understood the difference between the two words of justified and justifiable with your great help.

1. But you did not tell me the meaning of the sentence: It can be argued that…. I guess its meaning is: People believe that…(Is it right?)

2. The reason why I am asking the problem is that when I am trying to learn from your advice how to write a 4-paragraph essay about "discuss both views" question, I have a question: should I begin to discuss both sides in the two main bodies with: I argue that….or with something like: some people think that….

I found you express your opinion in three ways in your essay:
1. there is no your point of view. (the essay about the function of museum)
2. there is your point of view in the second main body. (the essay about whether teenagers should get a job or continue their education.)
3. there is your point of view at the end of a paragraph. (the example of writing task two on Wednesday, October 12, 2011: from this perspective, sports stars do not deserve the salaries they currently earn)

I am quite confused where I should express my opinion.

hi simon
i have received ur ebook and just opened
but i cant understant clearly all of this
i mean
for each topic there are just several sentences are written so i have to write linking words as i understand and apart from all of those i have to write my own ideas or??
because info very short here but we suggest to write more than 250 words
plz explain if its possible

Thanks Raj. Good luck!


Hi Leila,

This website is full of strategies for writing task 2. Just look through the lessons in the "writing task 2" category.

The aim of the ebook is to give you ideas and good vocabulary. Your job is to practise using those ideas (linking them and adding your own opinions and examples where necessary) to write full essays.

Read the introduction to the ebook carefully and look at the other attachments, especially the one called "Using the Ebook" - this shows you some paragraphs I wrote using the ebook ideas.

Also, do as many lessons here on the website as you can - they are full of strategies that will help you use the ideas in the ebook.

About "the + plural noun": yes, it's fine to use "the" before a plural. In the example you mentioned, you can add "the" if you want. Have a look at this lesson about articles:


Good luck!


Hi Hassan,

Yes, I'll do more of those in future. However, you could also use the "discussion + opinion" essays that I have written, and just remove the opinion.

I think you've got the question about 'international travel' wrong. I'm sure it was a "discuss both views" question instead of a "problem/solution" question.


Hi Bart,

1. It just means "some people say/argue that..."

2. Christina answered your second question perfectly. See her comment further up this page.

3. You described the different ways of expressing your opinion really well - I'm pleased to see that you have analysed the different ways I have done it. What this shows is that there is no rule about where (in the main body) your opinion should be. My only personal rule is that your opinion should be clear in the introduction and conclusion (if the question asks for it).


Thanks Christina!


Hi Abdul,

It doesn't really matter. Personally I usually put the other opinion first and my opinion second.


Thank You :)
but i dont have enoguh time for all of those:(((
my exam on 25th of february;(
and i start task 2 from now..
so just 4 days left :(((((((((((

Hi Leila,

You can't do much in only 4 days! Just read the ebook and try to remember some of the main ideas for each topic. Have a quick look through the task 1 lessons here on the site, and read anything that seems useful.

Good luck!

Hi can u give lesson about the main linking words ..my essays are always contain just 200 words but it should be more than 250..Can i write several examples for each paragraph to expand my essay

thx beforehand Simon :)

Hello, Simon,
Thanks a lot for your reply. In terms of essay structure, I summarise a number of key rules after reading your essays and the sample essays provided by Cambridge IELTS.
first, there must be an introduction, a mainbody, a conclusion.
second, the introduction is preferably brief and concise, as the main body carries most weight.
third, the main body paragraphs should normally start from topic sentences, followed by explanation and examples that support these sentences.
fourth, the order of the points you agree or disagree with is not important but cohesive devices and progression matter most.
fifth, the conclusion summarises main arguments and restates your stance, instead of presenting new information.
Do i summarise all your key perspectives?

Hi, Simon,

Thanks a lot! I really appreciate what your have done and what you are doing. Your advice helps me a lot.

My thanks also go to Christina, who answered me in detail.

hi Simon...i have questions..
in one of ur attachment is written that
in discussion question essays..we should introduce the topic straight after we should write our opinion and then we must start sentence like ..there are advantages and.....
is it right? in this case in first parag. u said that we should write using linkin words like firsly secondly n so on..can i give an examle for all of those categories? or i suggest to write just one at the end of the first parag. ?
and in OPINION QN esay
if we agree with all statements we should dedicate all parag. by expaining why we agree? i mean there is no need to write smth about dissagreement?..

Thanks Simon for your help

Hi Leila
If you want complete essays about task 1 and 2 to study in 4 days then search Simon's website by sections from the begining. There are about 15 complete task 2 essays band 9, and 25 task 1. You can study them in these days although we spent more than 4 months practising these essays and these useful strategies, so we've got them mastered.

in discussion qn if they dont ask for our opinion we should

introduce the topic

introduce the 2 points of view

and write : thereare adva n...

if they ask about our opinion we should

introduce the topic

write just OUR OPINION

and : there are adv n dis..BUT IN MY OPINION...


thanks for ur response Hassan
i have started task 1 a month ago in a course
so we didnt have much time for task 2..
and i admit myself that i registered too early...but i work hard..hope everything will be ok because dont want to sit an exam second time :(..i wish i could get at least 6 points.. but i have also problems with my listening skills..i did practice during 6 month and i always got just 23 right answers from 40..the main reason is concentration..i cant completely concentrate on the qs..:(

Hi Simon,
pls i want you to give me an example of a question that demands discussion and opinion.i am getting confused.i am getting confused as when to discuss both views or just giving my opinion.pls assist me.thanks

Hi Simon
I just want to thank you because I could get band score 7 in writing following the structures given in your website. The point is that it was my first full essay!!
I really owe you.
Wish you all the best.

Hi Leila
I think tha Simon's advice was always to keep introductions and conclusions short. If it is a discussion essay then no need to introduce the topic but begin with: People have different views... and try to include both views with a change in vocabs(two sentences).
In opinion essays it is related to ur opinion if u are with, against or support both sies. if you choose one of the first options then you should write an introductary sentence about the topic. The advice here is to support both sides so you can write a little about both pros and cons.
Begin the (middle opinion) essay with: To a certain extent, I agree that.... . However, I also believe that...
Pay attention where to mention ur opinion and where not, if they asked or not.
As a last minute advice If you want to do well on the listening section, Please, sleep early(well) before the exam date and in the morning, before the test, take a cup of coffee. The brain will function then better, much faster and much powerful.
Good Luck

So with discussion essays begin with very short introduction (people have different views..). Then (While there r good arguments.... , I believe that....)if asking about ur opinion.
If not asking about ur opinion then(While there are benefits to/of...., there are also good reasons why....)
Good Luck

Hi hassan thnk u very much!
can u correct my essay if i send it to u?

Hi Leila
If you want, I can try to help ur essay. Two heads better than one. My email: [email protected]

if i receive ovearall 6.125 wil it be considered as 6.5??

Hi Simon,
I think you made a mistake at "in these three media". Shouldn't it be "medias"? Am I right?

Hi Tuan,

This is from a dictionary:

The word media comes from the Latin plural of medium. The traditional view is that it should therefore be treated as a plural noun in all its senses in English and be used with a plural rather than a singular verb.

Hi Simon, is that enough to prove TV is the most effective by saying books are out of date? According to your text, books are still important when we research a subject in depth, sometimes that is more important than convenience and being up to date. (Sorry I am not suspecting the validity of your arguments, just a bit confused what is truly important in IELTS writing, so please explain a little to me:)

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