The city environment and infrastructure

In this lesson, we are focusing on vocabulary used to describe cities, particularly the city environment  – the places, buildings and locations that you can refer to when talking or writing about cities.
IELTS vocabulary for a city infrastructure

Take a look at the list below. How many words do you know? If there are any words you are not familiar with, we strongly recommend that you look them up in a dictionary. Once you have looked through the list, try the vocabulary exercise that follows.

Public transportation:

  • subway/underground/train/metro/light rail/ferry/Tube (UK English)
  • mass transit/queue


  • landfill
  • waste disposal


  • electricity
  • sewage
  • water
  • power
  • telecommunications


  • parks/libraries/clubs/zoos
  • megacentres/malls/boutiques
  • theatres/cinema complex/galleries/botanical gardens

Roads and traffic

  • traffic jam(s)
  • (heavy) traffic congestion
  • motorway  (UK English)
  • freeway (US English)
  • highway
  • lane/road/street/boulevard/avenue


  • noise pollution
  • light pollution
  • Smog

1)   The basic, and essential, facilities and services of a city such as bridges, roads and power supplies 

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2)   Slow-moving traffic, because of too many vehicles

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Traffic jam OR traffic congestion

3)   Waste water that needs to be safely removed from housing areas and cleaned

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4) Where rubbish is buried in a hole and then eventually covered with earth

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5) In many cities, the residents cannot see the night sky clearly because streets lamps and other factors cause too much

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Light pollution

6) The British English word for a train service, often underground, that helps commute get around a city  (most commonly in London)

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The Tube

7) A thick layer of pollution that hangs over a city, often looking like bad weather / grey sky

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