Your Path to IELTS Victory: Grammar Essentials Unleashed

Ellison Claptonreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process6 min
Created: Jul 27, 2023Last updated: May 16, 2024
IELTS Grammar Essentials

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) stands as a gateway to countless opportunities for students, professionals, and individuals seeking to pursue education, work, or even migration in English-speaking countries. IELTS grammar proficiency holds a paramount role among the different aspects the exam evaluates. Today, we will provide you with valuable tips and common grammar rules to enhance your skills and help you succeed during this complex exam.

Understanding IELTS Grammar Assessment

During the exam, your proficiency is evaluated by four main criteria: grammar, task achievement, coherence and cohesion, and vocabulary. Each of them has specific requirements essential for achieving the desired results. Understanding how grammar IELTS is assessed and what examiners look for is vital for successfully passing the test. There are three main criteria to pay attention to:

  1. Accuracy. Examiners evaluate the correctness of your language usage, including verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, articles, prepositions, pronouns, and other essential structures. 
  2. Range and complexity. Demonstrating a diverse range of grammar structures and using them with confidence showcases your language proficiency. Candidates who employ more complex sentence structures, reported speech, passive voice, and other grammar components usually receive higher band scores.
  3. Error frequency. The number of grammar mistakes is also taken into account during the assessment. Occasional, minor errors may not severely impact your score, but consistent and glaring mistakes can have negative consequences.

There is no unique strategy for excelling in IELTS grammar assessment. However, some general tips can help. You first need to review grammar fundamentals – recheck basic rules and understand their application in different contexts. Also, you should incorporate grammar exercises into your study routine. Finally, remember to focus on common mistakes and learn to identify them so you can avoid making them during the actual exam.

Essential IELTS Grammar Rules and Tips

While English grammar is relatively straightforward, it provides enough challenges to confuse unprepared learners. Below, we will explain the most common rules that you can face during the IELTS exam.

Subject-verb Agreement

This is a crucial grammar rule in English. It ensures that the verb in a sentence agrees with the subject in terms of number. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • When the subject is singular, the verb should be too. The same goes for plurals. For example:

She loves to read.

They love going out on dates. 

Kate buys herself flowers every week.

Jim and John buy flowers for their mother every Sunday.

  • Indefinite pronouns, like “everyone,” “someone,” “somebody,” “anything,” etc., are mostly singular. For example:

Everybody wants to succeed. 

Someone’s knocking at the door.

  • Collective nouns, such as “team,” “family,” “audience,” etc., can be singular or plural depending on context (whether you consider the group as a single unit or individuals). For example:

The family is on vacation. (as a unit)

The family are each going their separate ways. (as individuals)

Verb Tenses

Verb tenses indicate the time of an action or event in the sentence. There are three of them in English: present, future, and past. Each tense has simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous forms. Let’s briefly explore key points to remember.

  • Present Tense – actions happening right now or habitual actions.

She works in a bank. (Present Simple)

They are watching a movie. (Present Continuous)

  • Past Tense – actions that have already occurred.

He visited Paris last year. (Past Simple)

They were playing soccer. (Past Continuous)

  • Future Tense – actions that will happen in the future.

We will arrive on time. (Future Simple)

She will be waiting for you tomorrow. (Future Continuous)

  • Perfect Tense – actions completed before a specific point in time.

He has finished his homework. (Present Perfect)

They had already left when I arrived. (Past Perfect)

  • Perfect Continuous Tense – duration of the action that started in the past and continues in the present or future.

She has been studying for hours. (Present Perfect Continuous)

They had been waiting for a long time. (Past Perfect Continuous)

Articles and Determiners

These words are used alongside nouns and help to specify or limit them in sentences. They can be definite or indefinite. Here are some important points to memorize:

  • The definite article “the” is used before specific nouns that both speaker and listener know about.

The book is on the table.

The man is outside.

  • Indefinite articles “a” and “an” are used before singular countable nouns to refer to any one of that type.

I saw a car on the street.

She bought an apple.

Conditional Sentences

This is another essential grammar rule that combines sentences that express the relationship between the condition and its result. There are several types of conditionals:

If + Present Simple/Present Continuous, Present Simple.

If you heat water, it boils.

  • First Conditional – used for real and possible situations in the future.

If + Present Simple/Present Continuous, Future Simple.

If it rains tomorrow, we will stay home.

  • Second Conditional – used for unreal or unlikely situations in the present or future.

If + Past Simple, Subjunctive mood. 

If + Past Simple, Modal verb + bare infinitive.

If I had a million dollars, I would travel the world.

  • Third Conditional – used for unreal or impossible situations in the past.

If + Past Perfect, Modal verb + have + V3

If he had studied harder, he would have passed the exam.

  • Mixed Conditionals – combine elements of the Second and Third conditionals.

If + Past Perfect, Subjunctive mood.

If she had taken the earlier flight, she wouldn’t be stuck at the airport now.


The last IELTS grammar rule for today is related to modifiers – words or phrases that provide additional information about nouns, verbs, or other adjectives or adverbs. Here are the essential points:

  • Adjectives modify nouns to add descriptions or attributes.

The tall building overlooks the city.

  • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs to provide more information about how, where, when, or to what extent.

She sings beautifully.

He runs very fast.


Nail Complex Grammar for IELTS with Promova

Preparation for IELTS might be very challenging and stressful, especially if you are doing it by yourself. It is the case where professional help might be essential (and sometimes even indispensable). That is why we want to acquaint you with Promova – your one-stop solution for English fluency. Here’s what we have to offer:

  • one-on-one and group classes with professional tutors to provide you with a personalized approach;
  • free Conversation Club to discuss interesting topics with fellow learners worldwide and enhance your speaking skills;
  • convenient Promova app with engaging exercises and quizzes to study anywhere and anytime.

As you can see, there is a lot to choose from. And, mind you, that’s not all! Join Promova today, and access all the necessary tools to start your journey towards English fluency and see the results much sooner than expected. And if you are still hesitating, check our free trial lesson to understand all the learning nuances before making a final decision.


All in all, IELTS grammar is a topic that requires increased attention regarding your current proficiency level. Today, we mentioned only a few of the many important rules that can be useful during the exam. We hope this article will help you prepare yourself and reach the highest score. Good luck!


Why is grammar essential in the IELTS exam?

It is vital for various reasons, including clear communication, proper assessment in writing and speaking, academic writing expectations, and comprehension in listening and reading.

What are the best ways to overcome anxiety before the test?

Passing such an important exam might be extremely stressful. Therefore, you need to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. Don’t forget to practice beforehand – the more prepared you are, the more confident you feel. If you become anxious, try some breathing techniques to calm your nerves and focus your mind. And, of course, ensure you get enough sleep the night before the exam to be relaxed and alert.

Should I focus solely on the grammar during the IELTS exam, or are there other language aspects requiring attention?

While grammar is a crucial aspect, it is important to maintain a balance. Vocabulary, pronunciation, cohesion, and general reading and listening skills are also essential aspects that require attention.

What are some common grammar mistakes test-takers make during the IELTS test?

Although there isn’t a complete guide on all general mistakes people make during the exam, we can determine a few common ones. It includes incorrectly matching singular subjects with plural verbs (and vice versa), using the wrong or inconsistent tenses within a sentence, failing to punctuate sentences correctly, misusing similar sounding words (like “their” and “there”), etc.


Meryl DollinsAug 31st, 2023
I can't thank you enough for putting together such a comprehensive guide on IELTS grammar. The examples provided alongside each rule make it much easier to grasp the concepts and remember them during the test.