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July 17, 2019


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Thanku sir for your kind help
Can u plz elaborate this of the band descriptions,which says
Band 7 point 4
Clearly presents and highlights key features/bullet points BUT COULD BE MORE EXTENDED
Pls do explain the one capitalized

It is often argued that living on our own or in such a small family is more advantageous than have a life in larger family. I completely disagree with this opinion and think that this is a negative development.
First of all, as families become smaller, the traditional family support network is disappearing, and this can have a negative impact on children as they grow up. Children always need strong relationships with other people, especially their relatives. If a child is growing up in a small family, his/her interests and talents cannot be carefully nurtured. Moreover, many children even might not be aware of their abilities, let alone improving them. For example, a child who has such a small family always feels lonely, and this will affect his/her lives negatively. To summarize, children must have strong bonds with their relatives in order to enhance their skills and therefore they should live in larger families.
Secondly, the trend towards people living alone is perhaps even more damaging because of the psychological effects of reduced human interaction. Undoubtedly, people who live on their own cannot easily deal with problems, and both financial and social crisis may deteriorate people's psychology. There is a fact that many mental problems are directly associated with our lifestyle, and loneliness won't bring pleasure to our lives. For instance, people who lack family ties are prone to have mental disorders and it is hard to get over their diseases on their own. In brief, the disadvantages of living in a small family might have disastrous effects in a
long-term perspective.
To conclude, I strongly believe that people should not live alone or in small family units because children cannot develop their skills without support of traditional family and loneliness can cause many problems to our mental health.

Hi Simon! It is difficult to find you in other sections of your website but in this one. That's why I am posting my question here.
My question is about Speaking part2.
Do ielts examiners penalize students for not following bullet points on the task card or not talking according to the them
For example
Describe a person ...
Where you met him/her
Do I have to tell where I met him/her


Nuri Taş

It is often argued that living on our own or in such a small family is more advantageous than having a life in larger family.

"Children always need strong relationships with other people, especially their relatives": this assertion is unsupported.

"If a child is growing up in a small family, his/her interests and talents cannot be carefully nurtured": this is not self-evident to me, so explain why not.

Moreover, many children even might [wrong word order] not be aware of their abilities, let alone improving them. For example, a child who has such a small family always feels lonely, [Again, there is no explanation of why this should be.] and this will affect his/her lives negatively.

Secondly, the trend towards people living alone is perhaps even more damaging because of the psychological effects of reduced human interaction. Undoubtedly, [I live on my own: are you asserting that I cannot deal with problems? Please explain. I even have friends too.] people who live on their own cannot easily deal with problems,.....

There is [It is] a fact that many mental problems are directly associated with our lifestyle, and loneliness won't [No short forms in formal writing] bring pleasure to our lives.

For instance, people who lack family ties are prone to have mental disorders and it is hard to get over their diseases on their own. [Quite a number of people are orphaned, yet still seem to live quite normal lives, in good health. Do not over-generalize. If your argument were true, there would be a strong correlation between family size and mental illness. I do not believe this is the case.]

It is true that with the advent of modern era ,cities are seeing a rise in nuclear family set ups as compared to extended family dwellings.
Living in small family unit saves a person from unnecessary conflicts arising out of daily life situations.Problems such as lack of food availability,unequal distribution of money,time, and care all lead to hatred and depression ultimately.Children suffer from the querrelsome environment of the house.
Another major benefit of living alone is that it gives a sense of being independent.One is free to choose what he /she thinks is right for him/herself without being subjected to anyone's criticism, which surely is a big source of contentment.For example te most frequent victims of the joint family system ,the women ,will be able to give time to themselves and their children inspite of being worried about the obligations and rituals of in-laws.
In a nutshell, I'ld say it's prferrable to be a part of small family unit because it is vital to the well being of an individual as well as enables to tie bonds by building love and reapect within families.

Plz correct me

Sorry i missed my opinin.

In my opinion this is a positive development.....

Dear Simon,

I would like to thank you for your very good blog. I am sure many people have got their desirable results by studying your lessons. I really appreciate you. Today I have got my GT results: LRWS=7.5,7.5,6.5,7

I am sure I did a good job in writing as I followed your writing lessons. Do you think I should go for a remark?

I've just written this essay. Please give me some advice. Thank you in advance.
There have been increasing many people preferring live in smaller families or as one-person households to extended families. I believe that it does not take the advantages of this trend.
On the one hand, it cannot be seen as positive for individuals or for each family members in small family units. On an individual level, people could certainly experience feelings of loneliness, isolation, and worry, as they can miss out on the emotional support and daily conversation from family members. Moreover, the trend towards living alone can significantly rise the demand for housing, which results in the effects of accommodation planning for the local government. From an economic perspective, children in small families do not give the support and education of their grandparents if their parents do not have enough time to nurture and instruct them. As a result, there have been many juvenile delinquents which the reason is that without taking care of from their parents and relatives.
On the other hand, people can be considered from the opposite angle if they live in extended family groups. From the financial point of view, they cannot bear the weight of all household bills and responsibilities. This means it is not faced with rising living costs, apart from living alone. Many generations living in a house would help each individual experience many interesting things, which living alone or in a nuclear family does not have. For example, a lot of traditional culture value could be passed by the elders, such as the recipes and ingredients of making a traditional food or the procedures of traditional customs.
In conclusion, I argue that there have been much more detrimental effects on individuals or children if a young adult lives alone or if people live with a few family members.
(296 words)

Hi Bogdan,
Firstly thanks a lot for your efforts. As a person who has been living alone for a long time, I was aware that some arguments are not realistic and these are not proven scientifically. However, I just tried to follow the main sentences but I guess this was not a successful attempt. Anyway, I have realized my mistakes and and this has been a fruitful experience for me. Thanks again.


Take a butcher's at the following statistics:



For example the average result for Greek speakers (academic) is:
(LRWS): 7.35,7.03,6.24,6.73

It is quite common for the writing score to be half a band or more below the reading.


Punctuation should be followed by a space.
Incorrect: modern era ,cities
Correct: modern era, cities

The word count is 184. This would lead to a reduction of your score by about half a band. You must write at least 250 words.

-> set-ups

Spelling errors:

"One is free to choose what he /she thinks is right for him/herself ...": always tricky to use "one". -> One is free to choose what one thinks is right for oneself ... [This now sounds stilted, so perhaps try using "We are free to ...ourselves.]

"Joint family system": this phrase is used in India; "extended family" has a wider usage.

"In a nutshell": informal. Do not use in essays.

-> well-being

"as well as enables to tie bonds.." -> as well as enabling us to create bonds


-> An increasing number of people now prefer to live in a small family setting or as one-person household, rather than as part of an extended family.

Your second sentence is incoherent: I am not sure what you mean. "..it does not take": what does "it" refer to?

"... it cannot be seen" -> this trend cannot be seen ....

-> conversation with family members: what about telephones?

"... rise the demand": "rise" is traditionally intransitive, although some native speakers from North America seem not to understand this. -> raise the demand.

"... which results in the effects of acc ....": what? Incoherent.

"children in small families do not give the support and education of their grandparents": children to educate their grandparents? Surely not.

"which the reason is that ": again, incoherent.

"they cannot bear ": why 'cannot'?

"...which living alone or in a nuclear family does not have. " Repetition of same argument.

-> many traditional cultural values

-> ... could be passed by the elders: "passed" here might well be read as meaning "defecate": did you mean "passed on"?

-> many more detrimental effects

Hi Simon!
Thanks for your post.

I was wondering about the use of "In conclusion, therefore,..." to introduce the conclusion of an essay. I saw it in Cambridge's "Mindset for IELTS" series. Below is the quoted sentence:

"In conclusion, therefore, there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to working from home."

I learn that, to introduce the conclusion, we can say, for example, "In conclusion,...". However, the inclusion of "therefore" after the phrase "In conclusion" is really strange to me. Rarely had I seen this combination before, actually.

Is "therefore" redundant in the above sentence? Could you please give some instructions on that use?

Thank you very much, Simon.




Thank u lara for the correction

If I stand for negative side,should I only describe about negative side of this in both body paragraph,or should I explain both negative and positive in body para 1 and 2 accordingly?

Nowadays, urban residents prefer living a solitary life or living only with direct relatives like parents, rather than living in a bigger family. In my opinion, it is a negative fashion.

Most of the small family groups have only one child, which may bring serious impacts to children. Not like many children growing up together in a large family, children from small families virtually do not have any siblings living with them as they grow up. Therefore, children of small family units who do not have many peers to talk with, to play with would be lack of some important qualities which big families’ children would be easier to gain, such as competitiveness and the co-operative spirit. Furthermore, the only child of a family has all the love and attention of elder family members. Then, it is more likely to foster a spoiled and dependent younger generation.

Moreover, there is a bigger possibility that people living alone or living in a small family will have some psychological problems which wouldn’t occur in members of larger families. People of an extended family can always share their personal feelings with other family members whether happiness or sadness. However, the one living alone doesn’t have such interactions; he can only leave the feelings to himself. Once it comes to a habit, people who live alone will lose the ability to share feelings and they will become more and more solitary. There is no doubt that long-term loneliness can cause serious psychological illnesses.

In conclusion, I believe that people as members of larger families can have a better life. Therefore, the tendency of people choosing to live alone or in small family groups is worrying.

please correct me, thanks a lot.


Reading through Simon's skeleton, it seems that both body paragraphs will expand on the negative aspects.

As the question neither asks for a discussion, nor for both sides of the argument, there seems to be no need to mention any potential positives at all.


The phrase "living a solitary life" suggests that the person has few, if any, friends and has little or no social life, and being content with one's own company. It is possible to live alone and go out a lot, meeting friends and family, and being very social and sociable. The topic is not really about one's social life: it is more about physically 'living alone', and physical living arrangements.

"Fashion" tends to suggest "a current (constantly changing) trend, favored for frivolous rather than practical, logical, or intellectual reasons" or a popular trend. Paraphrasing 'trend' as 'fashion' brings in unwanted connotations.

Re "bring serious impacts to children": "bring" is not used with "impact" by native writers. 'Have/make an impact on" is the usual phrase. Use it.


"Not like many children..." -> Unlike many children ...

Re-position "virtually": -> children from small families have virtually no siblings ...

-> children of small family units, who do not have many peers to talk or play with, would lack some important qualities which would come more easily to (OR be more easily acquired by) children of larger families.

"the only child of a family" -> an only child https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/only_child

"Then, it is more": -> Therefore....
What does it refer to? If you wish to refer somewhat vaguely to the situation or ideas in the previous sentence(s) then use "this". -> Therefore, this may lead to ...

As regards your thesis in the second paragraph, I do feel you have overlooked the socialization effects of kindergarten, play groups, schools, and clubs; or failed to address the question of how many siblings do you need to be adequately socialized. Perhaps just one sibling is all you need. That said, there do seem to be some issues with people who grew up under the one-child policy in mainland China. Whether this is a result of government policy or the culture prevailing at the time is a good question.

'wouldn’t' -> would not: never use short forms in formal essays.

In your third paragraph, your case seems overstated or overgeneralized. Not every only-child has mental problems. Maybe the incidence is higher, but not in every case. Also, just because one lives in an extended family does not automatically mean that one shares one's personal feelings with family members: that is more a matter of culture and the culture within the family. In some traditional middle-class families in England some while ago, people did not share their feelings at all; it was simply the culture of the era, termed "stiff upper lip".


-> they can only keep their feelings to themselves. Use plurals to avoid he/she, himself/herself.

-> Once it becomes a habit


Re "people who live alone will lose the ability to share feelings": why? Is it not like riding a bike? One never loses the knack. Again, you seem to overlook the possibility that someone who lives alone is not confined to their apartment or dwelling; they can go out and socialize, even if it just means sitting on a bench outside the doorway of a large apartment block.

Your conclusion is overstated and fails to address the quality of family interactions. See links below for the literature on this.






There is one further assumption in your essay that needs to be brought out. It is implicit in your argument that poor or inappropriate childhood experiences will result in permanent and inescapable damage to personality and development. That is, we are all victims of our upbringing, for good or ill, whether it is genetics, environment, relationships, events, or the surrounding culture. This does not seem to gel with my observations.

I have met people from a wide range of backgrounds, who, for example, were abused in childhood, who were brought up in a refugee camp, who fled their own country, who were orphaned at a young age, who were only-children, and others who were brought up in well-to-families with relatively good experiences. The point is some people are not trapped by their background and childhood, they either have the opportunity to escape, or are not permanently traumatized, scarred or constrained; and then there are others that seem never move beyond their upbringing and reach toward their potential.

A difficult (or even a lucky) childhood does not necessarily define who you are or who you can become, or what you can achieve. It is not automatic and irrevocable, although the path forward may be very stony indeed, and the opportunities few and far between.


Thank you for your corrections. Some of them are very useful. However, I have a question that since I have chosen to write about the negative side in my essay, is it necessary for me to think of the positive side? I have only 250-300 words to write, that is why I cannot extend my every idea fully and reach every aspect of a matter. It is just an essay for an exam, I do not think you should judge my points as long as they are plausible. After all, I am not writing a fifty-thousand-word thesis, right?


Absolutely. My last post was simply my own thoughts on the topic.

The criteria for Band 7 actually state: "presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to overgeneralise and/or supporting ideas may lack focus". As you say, the essay "presents a clear position throughout the response", and perhaps that is the main thing.


"People who live alone will lose the ability to share feelings". Yes, my word choice of "will" seems to be too strong. Would it be better if I use "might" instead? I just wanted to show there is a higher possibility for people living alone to lack the ability to share feelings than who of large families.

I thought the phrase "living a solitary life" can paraphrase "live alone", but it turned out to be wrong. How could I paraphrase this phrase? Is "living a single life" better? Thank you for your corrections again.


In my view, "may" or "might" would be better, as this is precisely the type of cautious language that is needed to forestall over-generalization.

The phrase "living a single life" would mean being unmarried, whether you live alone or not. I have not found a good substitute for "living alone", even on government websites. So better not to paraphrase. There are no marks for a bad paraphrase anyway.

Hi, everyone! I would like to get some feedback, please.

It is true that extended families have become rare among urban populations now. In my opinion, this is a positive tendency for several reasons.
Firstly, living alone or in a nuclear family may have financial benefit to it, because it can decrease the household expenditure. Using less electricity or water can cut back on the overall spending. It is a crucial factor, since living expenses tend to be high in many cities. For example, as a person living in a nuclear family, I can say that we spend less money annually than our neighbours or relatives who have large families. Also, people who live alone may guarantee the future retirement, as they can set more money aside compared to the members of extended families.
Secondly, people might have more time for themselves when they lead comparatively solitary lifestyle. It seems difficult to focus on self-development while living in a large family where everyone else tries to handle their own problems. In contrast, we can thrive personally in a small family, because we are likely to get more attention and support from our parents or children. And being alone might help us develop our own coping mechanisms and gain essential life skills. For example, a friend of mine whose family is large has moved into a new house because he could not concentrate on his studies.
In conclusion, I believe that an increasing preference for solitary life in cities is a positive trend, because it can benefit financial and personal states of city dwellers.








-> a comparatively solitary lifestyle

A "solitary life" is more about one's social relationships and sociability than living arrangements, so is not a good paraphrase for 'living alone'. See Gaya's comments above.

"personal states" -> the state of mind ???



... an increasing preference for living by oneself (or living on your own)




It is argued that citizens now tend to live individually or in nuclear families rather than extended ones. In my opinion, I think that this trend has both positive and negative effects.
On the one hand, there are two main harmful effects of living alone or in a small family. Firstly, people who living away from their family members find it hard to receive care from the other members. For example, when being sick people have to take care of themself and this is really a big trouble. In contrast, in extended families the other family members will not allow sick individual to go to the hospital alone and certainly always be by their sides until completely recovering. Secondly, living alone or in nuclear families will result in less help with children. For example, if family doesn’t have grandparents, parents have to look after their children by themselves or having a babysitter to help them when they are all busy. That would be a negative aspect of it.
On the other hand, this development can be extremely positive for two main reasons. Firstly, living alone or in a nuclear family means that you don’t have to make sure family’s bond secure due to personality conflicts, generation gap and discrepancies in their life style. Secondly, people who live away from their family members will have more freedom in doing what they want without bothering other family members. For example, young people prefer eating fast food and listening to loud music while the elderly are keen on traditional meals and soft relaxing music. Therefore, living separately would give them opportunities to satisfy their needs but not disturbing the other members.
In conclusion, it seems to me that living alone or in a small family can bring people both benefits and drawbacks.

Trieu Hoang

Just some background:
Per Wikipedia: "Critics of the term "traditional family" point out that in most cultures and at most times, the extended family model has been most common, not the nuclear family,[26] though it has had a longer tradition in England[27] than in other parts of Europe and Asia which contributed large numbers of immigrants to the Americas. The nuclear family became the most common form in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s."

Statistics here show there is no overall trend. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10433-018-0474-3

Re the phrase 'live individually': it seems that the use of this phrase to equate with 'living alone' is rare. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22live+individually%22&lr=lang_en&tbs=lr:lang_1en&tbm=bks&ei=dEw9XfPxKI7crQG3t6DICA&start=10&sa=N&ved=0ahUKEwjz-_y-idfjAhUObisKHbcbCIkQ8NMDCHE&biw=1238&bih=893&dpr=1

"who living away": missing auxiliary verb.

"when being sick people have to take care of themselves".

" allow sick individual ": missing article.

"always be"" missing modal/auxiliary verb.

"until completely recovered".

"if family" : missing article.

-> engage a babysitter

-> this development could/may/might/would be extremely positive

" family’s bond secure": not clear. ? family relationships are not dysfunctional ??

" but not disturbing " -> without disturbing

Hi Simon!

I'm still looking forward to your instructions regarding my question (posted on 20 July) above.

Could you kindly give some input, please?

Thank you very much in advance!

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