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July 06, 2018


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Found some interesting new vocabulary in this sample:

  • to put some money aside

  • this came in useful

  • could have sent me into the red

  • summon the willpower


I think in opening sentence of first question, However is appropriate instead of "but" as linker.
In question no 2,Answer has started "not at school" in opening why? whereas Question is not mentioning any information regarding school.
What is the meaning of "into the red"
In question no 3, starting sentence is "I've never thought about that before". Answer seems to be neutral.Why not going for or against of it?

@ pachu

1) 'However' is an adverb so it would start a new sentence: .....for retirement. However, it's also a...
'But' is a conjunction and normally joins two clauses into one sentence. Apart from the grammar and punctuation, the meaning is pretty much the same.

2) "Taught" suggests teachers, which suggests school.
Banks used to send out statements where amounts owing to them such as loans and overdrafts were shown in red. In Excel and other spreadsheets the money format still allows negative amount to be shown in red. So 'in the red' means your bank account is overdrawn. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in_the_red

3) Just a filler phrase to get you started talking.

“Could have sent me into the red” What does this phrase means?

Dear Simon,
In the sample of Speaking Part3 - topic "history" you posted on Nov 6 2012 you used "would have been impossible to foresee" and "could have imagined''.
I'm really confused why you used these strucure?
Can we use "were" instead of "would have been" and "could image that...." instead of "would could have been"?
Please give me some explaination.
Thank you !

@ Son Nguyen - Vietnam

a) "It's really difficult to predict what will happen in the future; most of the big, historic events of the past would have been impossible to foresee."

b) "For example, I don't think that anyone living 100 years ago could have imagined that people would one day walk on the moon!"

One explanation for the tenses in italics would be that "would/could" indicates that the situation is hypothetical or counterfactual; that is, we are talking about something that did not happen.

We are also talking about something that did not happen in the past. So we use the past/perfect infinitive, have done, to indicate the timing, and make it clear we are not talking about the present or future.

Using plain 'were' or 'could' does not provide quite the same perspective and time-frame.

My understanding is that, like Russian and some other languages, Vietnamese does not distinguish "second" and "third" conditionals (with "đã" and "đang" or "đang" and "sẽ") so maybe that is why it seems strange.

Hope this helps !

Dear Simon,
What do "to send me into the red" means?
Thanks in advance!


hi wanda ! Thank you for your explanation !
But I would argue that, for example, in the sentence "... could have imagined...", Simon is talking about the action that is "the imagination" of the people in the past and I do think that those people "could imagine" not "could have imagine". For me, "could have imagined" means they did not imagine.
How do you think?

@ Son Nguyen

Good Morning Vietnam !

"For me, "could have imagined" means they did not imagine." Exactly. The idea was way beyond the scope of their thinking.

If we look at:
would have done
could have done
might have done
should have done
-these phrases normally mean that it did not happen. For example:
if I had known , I would have told you.
(But I didn't know, so I didn't tell you).

Incidentally, there was a book by an English author, H G Wells, written in 1897, where Martian aliens arrive on Earth, so I am not sure I agree with Simon's statement on this. But his grammar is fine, of course.

Requesting ATTENTION_ Speaking part

Dear Simon,
We all are thankful to you for doing such a nice job for us. However, I have an idea regarding speaking part that could be far better fruitful.

The idea is that if it's possible for you to upload audio clip along with writings for speaking part alike listening section, it would really be helpful.

Thank you for your consideration.

Thank you so much Wanda ! Best regards !

Thank you so much Cara for reply.
Would you please help me in speaking part 3 , in which area to focus most? How can part 3 be prepared well?

Dear Simon

I want to thank you for this amazing website. I used your website as the only resource for IELTS preparation and with the help of all the tips and techniques you taught, I could get a band score of 8 in IELTS exam. I truly appreciate your efforts which helped me and people like me go through the right way.

Thank you

@ Pachu

Actually I know little about the speaking test, but the speaking band descriptors are here:


There is no task response criterion as in writing. Instead we have pronunciation. Coherence and Cohesion, has become fluency and cohesion. So it is not so much about what you say, it is more about the way you say it.

Like the IELTS reading and listening tests, the speaking test becomes progressively more difficult over the ten to 15 minutes allowed, and part three is the most difficult.

Let us assume that you already have the vocabulary to score Band 7 in Lexical Resource, as per your reading/writing score.

Let us also assume that you can meet the criteria for Fluency and coherence, such as "speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence".

In order to achieve a Band 7 score, you would then need to get Band 7 for grammar and band 6 for pronunciation, or the other way round.

As Simon recently pointed out, your own accent does not disbar or stop you from getting Band 7 for pronunciation. After all, native speakers have different accents - Scottish, Irish, Australian, Afro-American, and so on. What matters is that your accent has only 'minimal effect on intelligibility'. For example, pronouncing "R" as "H" at the beginning of a word (Brazilian style), that is "Rafael" as "Hafael", would lower your score, as it is very confusing.

I would suggest that a good teacher could best identify your weaknesses in these areas and provide the necessary guidance, and practice in discussing serious topics.

@ Pachu

Achieving a good result in speaking entails maintaining a high degree of grammatical accuracy. For instance Band 9 specifies: 'uses a full range of structures naturally and appropriately'.

In my view, one of the hallmarks of a very good speaker is that they use 'although' or 'though' accurately when and where needed, as part of the conversation. This is one thing you might practice.

Band 8 includes: 'produces a majority of error-free sentences with only very occasional ...errors'. So another thing to work on is reducing your error rate. Quite how to do this is a good question.

To me, a rule-based, grammar-book approach is nowhere near good enough. It seems far better to spend your time listening, and listening to the point where you can hear the grammar and reproduce it. You should be able to hear when the speaker uses 'a' or 'the' and notice when they do not. Only then can you reproduce the phrase correctly. This is, after all, how children do it.

With all the resources of the internet and modern technology, there is now little excuse for poor listening skills, and to me they are the bedrock on which your pronunciation and grammar should be built.

1. Why is it important for people to save some of their money?

In the long term I think it is important to save for people future. We don’t know how the future will shape our lives. There are some possibilities in the life. For example, we might encounter with economic crisis or we might get a disease. If we have some money for like this situations, it will be very safe for our future because we can deal with unexpected problems . On the other hand, saving some money allows us to know the value of money and we don’t spend our money for unneccesary things.

2. In your view, should children be taught how to manage money?

I think no because children dont’t have some responsibilities like an adults. On the other hand, children should taught how to manage family budget . At least children should observe during set up the family budget. It’s important to children teach knowing what they earn, what they owe and where money is spent. If children know how to control and manage money budget, they automatically learn how to manage money.
Do you think that girls are better at saving money than boys?

I've never thought about that before but I disagree because it depends on the personality of each individual. For example, a child who know the value of money is better at saving money whereas a child who don’t know the value of money might not think about saving. On the other hand, these are might be relatec to motivation of a saving money. For instance, or example, a child who likes cheap toys might not think about saving, whereas a child who wants to buy something expensive, like a bike or a games console, might summon the willpower to save up!


"There are some possibilities in the life."

"Life" is sometimes countable, sometimes not. If you mean "life in general" it is uncountable.

See here, meaning #6 is uncountable, thus NO article :

"in life" is much the commoner. However "in the life of" is used

Checkout the following links:



This is a common pattern where an uncountable noun uses no article, but has one when followed by "of", or where used as part of a compound noun.

Take the word "business" for example. "In business" is the most common (no article as uncountable in this meaning, "business in general").

"In the business" (with an article) is again either followed by "of", or is part of a compound noun such as "business world".

Absolutely essential to grasp this concept as IETLS writing Task 2 and speaking Parts 2 & 3 are about generalizing.




Translate the following into your own language and notice how English grammar differs:

1) I like chicken. (that is eating chicken as a meat in general) “What do you feel like eating?” “I like chicken."

2) I like chickens. (that is live chickens as animals) cf: “The more I see of people, the better I like chickens.”

3) I like the chicken. (that is part of my meal which is chicken as opposed to vegetables, sauce etc) E.g: "I like the skin, but I like the chicken too."

4) "I like a chicken": google this - it is never used.

5) "I'd like a chicken please": possibly used when buying a live chicken at market. For example:
“I'd like a chicken, please.” “What kind of chicken, then?” Jen looked at the man blankly. “Kind?” “What do you want it for?” he asked as if she were dim. “Just eating,” she ventured.




In which of the following might "society" mean (A)"society in general", and in which (B) a specific club, organization, or period?

1) Society is composed of many organizations and each must perform their specialized tasks for society to be successful. (Peter Drucker)

2) The society is composed of 35 regular members,....

3) In its simpler terms a society is composed of people. (K. N. Dash)

4) ...opportunities which those lucky few would never have been offered in the traditional society. (Margaret Slocomb)

5) In traditional society moral values are a composite of several variables. (Douglas E Thomas)

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