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Phrases to use and phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writing


There are a number of IELTS preparation institutions that will teach you set phrases to use in IELTS writing test. However, it is important to remember that the examiner assessing your work will be able to identify which phrases you have used accurately and in the correct context and which ones are not so good. In this post, we are going to look at some phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writing, as well as some good options.

Phrase: In my judgment

Comment: This is a good phrase, although a minor point is that the most academic language avoids personal pronouns. You could rephrase this to. ‘As an overall judgement, it could be said that….‘. Regarding spelling – judgment is US English, judgement is UK English – both are acceptable for IELTS.

Phrase: Every coin has two sides

Comment: We strongly recommend avoiding this. Although it is an English expression, it is now quite old fashioned and the majority of people that use it are English learners. It is not particularly academic and is so overused by candidates in the IELTS test that it will not help your performance. Better would be to use an expression like ‘However, there is an alternate point of view to consider‘.

Phrase: I reckon

Comment: Avoid this – it is too conversational and used only in informal writing and speaking. In addition, try to avoid using personal pronouns (I) wherever possible. Change this to ‘It can perhaps be most strongly supported that

Phrase: As I said before

Comment: Again, this is more used for spoken English or informal writing. Better would be ‘As previously mentioned‘ or to be even more academic, ‘As previously alluded to‘ or ‘As previously referred to‘.

Phrase:  by and large

Comment: This is a good construction for Task 2 (meaning ‘overall’, ‘considering everything’, ‘in general’).

Phrase: there has been heated debate (about something)

Comment:  Be a little careful with this ‘ a ‘heated’ debate is one on which people become emotional, arguing very strongly about a principle they believe in or are against, and the phrase is often overused and mistakenly used for minor issues (eg “there is a heated debate about home cooked food” doesn’t suit as this debate is unlikely to be ‘heated’). If you do use it, make sure that it is something that is truly likely to generate a heated debate – legalising marijuana, for example, or the death penalty.

Phrase: The point I am trying to make is

Comment:  This is not so good. The first issue is the use of ‘I’ – avoid using personal pronouns if possible. The other issue is that ‘trying to make‘ suggests that your point of view has, up to that point, not been very clear. Change this to ‘The relevant point is that‘ or ‘the primary point is that

Phrase: owing to the fact that
Comment: This is a good expression. It shows more flexibility than simply saying ‘because’ and has the added advantage of being 5 words, which will help you reach the 250 word minimum limit.


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