IDP IELTS Blog

Common Grammar Mistakes

3 Feb 2020
Common Grammar Mistakes

When writing in English, there are many different grammar rules to follow. Mistakes can occur, and some mistakes happen more frequently than others. Here are some common grammar mistakes to be aware of before writing the IELTS test.

Subject-Verb Agreement

The subject and verb in a sentence must match or agree. When the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. When plural, both subject and verb must be plural.

Singular

The man has 10,000 books in his library.
She dances in the competition.

He is the strongest athlete.
The head of the committee is 37 years old.

Plural

The men have a bet going on at work.
They dance as a couple.

They are a stronger team.
The members of the committee are in the meeting room.

Conditionals

Errors with conditionals can happen, so it’s important to know the different structures.

Zero Conditional = Present Simple + Present Simple
Ex.
If water reaches 100C, it boils.
If it rains, things get wet.

First Conditional = Present Simple + Will/Won’t
Ex.
If you take too long, you will miss the bus.
I won’t participate if it’s not fair.

Second Conditional = Past Simple + Would/Wouldn’t
Ex.
If I were a cat, I would sleep all day.
I would travel around the world if I won the lottery.

Third Conditional = Past Perfect + Would/Wouldn’t Have + Past Participle
Ex.
If she had studied harder, she would have passed the test.
If the team had worked together, they wouldn’t have lost the finals.

Mixed Conditional = Past Perfect + Would/Wouldn’t
Ex.
If she had received the certificate, she would be an instructor now.
I would be in the middle of nowhere now if I hadn’t checked the GPS.

Common Grammar Images 2

Word Order

When writing a sentence, it is very important to have the correct word order. This makes the sentence clear and easy to understand.

Sentence

Subject + Auxiliary Verb + Verb + Object

Incorrect: I have played for six years basketball.
Correct: I have played basketball for six years.

Question

Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Verb + Object

Incorrect: You have played basketball?
Correct: Have you played basketball?

The Use of Commas

Commas are misused frequently. They can be overused, underused, or missed completely.

Overuse of Commas

When there is an independent and dependent clause in the same sentence, you don’t need a comma.

Ex. The house plant died because I didn’t water it.

A comma is not necessary when two parts of a sentence are complementary.

Ex. You either follow my rules or you leave my house.

Missing Commas

There needs to be a comma after a transitional word, phrase, or clause.

Ex. 
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.
On the other hand, social media has some benefits.
Once the timer has finished, please put down your pencil.

Commas are necessary when separating two independent clauses in a compound sentence.

Ex. The woman jumped on the scooter, and she drove towards the station.

Comma Splice

A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined by a comma. Two independent clauses should be separated by a period.

Incorrect: I go shopping every Saturday, I buy clothes from different stores.
Correct: I go shopping every Saturday. I buy clothes from different stores.

hand writing crumpled paper

Sentence Fragments

Sentence fragments can also often occur in writing. When there is a sentence fragment, there is something missing in the sentence.

Missing a Subject

Incorrect: Shut the window on his hand.
Correct: The boy shut the window on his hand.

Missing a Verb

Incorrect: Displaying his trophy.

Correct: The olympian was displaying his trophy.

Dependent Clause

Incorrect: After I start university.
Correct: I’ll come home less often after I finish university.

Grammar mistakes can easily be made, but they can also be easily fixed. Always double-check your writing when doing the IELTS test. Fewer mistakes could result in a higher band score.

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