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August 20, 2017


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Thanks Simon for giving such detailed and informative information. It will be so helpful.

Hi Simon

I'm quite mad because I have this checker from a review centre, who kept saying that there should be a comma before the word respectively. Like 15% and 14%, respectively. I tried to argue with her that a comma isn't needed. Can you please enlighten me? She even wronged me because I used the British spellings while I used while instead of whilst and although instead of albeit. Her scoring to me hinders me to get a grade of 7, just because of this minor mistake ACCORDING TO HER. Her grading of below 7 to me is needed so that I would be sponsored by my agency.

I find your idea very useful. It is difficult for me to learn so much grammar from grammar books. I decided to learn with essays. I tried to write as much as possible. After that, my teacher checked it and tell me why I do have mistakes.



Some style manuals use a comma before respectively and some do not; book usage is split.

Simon said:
"Yes, try to be consistent with British or American spelling. But don't worry too much about this in the listening test. Just make sure each word is spelled correctly."





Oleg57 thanks so much.

Well, it is honestly much harder to find a teacher who can help correct your mistakes than to find a grammar book. : )

huong & ZP

Nowadays it is possible to use the internet to improve one's writing. For example:

Try googling "learn with essays"
and then google "learn by writing essays".

This shows "learn with" is used in other contexts:


This shows common phrases with "learn from/by":

It's just the way.
Thank you Simon for your helpful website-for your work!

Wow,it is really an amazing thing! It tells us the using frequency of a word or a phrase from two hundred years ago till now.
Google is a great company, very much impressive.

Hi Simon

I have been following your website and I found the information there very useful. Thank you a lot for your help.

I took my IELTS test in Germany two weeks ago, and my band scores are 7,5 (listening), 8.5 (Reading), 7 (Writing) and 7 (Speaking). However, I am not very satisfied with what I got in the writing and speaking parts, since I got at least a 7.5 in each session last time I took the exam. So I want to apply for an enquiry on results, but I don't know if I will have a good chance... So please allow me to say a little more about my situation.

During the speaking test, I think I spoke quite fast, which may have left a bad impression on the examiner. Nevertheless, I can generally speak fluently and use a wide range of vocabulary. In addition, my pronunciation is fine as well, according to my American friend. What mystifies me the most is that my boyfriend, who took the exam with me on the same day, got an 8 in the speaking part, although he 'messed up' a question in part three by saying something completely wrong (he then realized what he said did not make sense so he asked the examiner to allow him to re-phrase in the end). I am usually able to answer questions promptly and with the use of more advanced vocabulary, however, my boyfriend's English is better than mine in terms of grammar. But I am still very confused because I really don't understand why my score was so much lower than his... I don't understand anymore what the examiners put more value on.

With regard to the writing test, I actually had the feeling that I finished both tasks quite well. Especially the writing task 2, because I wrote a similar essay before and a former IELTS-examiner gave me an 8 for that essay. So when I saw my score in the writing part I was very surprised and of course disappointed.

Do you think I should have my scores remarked? I really feel like I deserved more, but maybe I just did not do well. So I am really not sure if I will have a good chance.

It would be very nice of you if you could answer me. Thank you very much for your time!

If the point of learning a language is merely to pass an IELTS test, there are maybe priorities other than grammar. But if the aim is to be able to read and write English correctly, not just to be able to "communicate" orally, then the importance of grammar is paramount, and should not be downplayed.
Employers worldwide are increasingly attentive to the way job applicants understand and write English, not just how they can speak it. After all, when speaking English, we all make mistakes all the time ; that is acceptable, as long as the message gets across. But when it comes to reading and writing, incorrect use of grammar can lead to incomprehension, ambiguity, unintentional aggression, lost contracts, and a lot worse.
There's a page about the importance of grammar on http://linguapress.com/grammar/ which is worth looking at.

Thanks Trev for making a good point. However, I would still argue that knowledge of vocabulary comes before grammatical accuracy.

Hii simon i have not enough money to buy online practice session of ielts. But i want to clear ielts exam with help of you .please help me in writing because i have no teacher who find my mistakes and guide me☺

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