12 Tricky English Words

Tricky Words in IELTSSpeaking from experience, there are some words in English that IELTS test takers misspell quite often. A word spelt wrong isn’t the end of the world, but here’s the thing – when you spell one of these words wrong, the autocorrect feature (your usual lifeline!) won’t save you. It won’t let you know that you made a mistake and there will be no red underline. Why? Because the second spelling also exists in its dictionary – but the word spelt that way means something completely different!

Here are the 12 tricky words that can get you in trouble – and what each spelling means.

Cause vs. Course

A cause is a reason for something that happened.

A course is a sequence of events or it could also mean a learning program at school or university.

Compliment vs. Complement

A compliment is something you say to a person to show your admiration.

A complement is an item that completes a group of other items, makes it better, for example a hat that completes an outfit.

Destruct vs. Distract

To destruct means to destroy.

To distract means to take your attention away from something you were doing.

Desert vs. Dessert

A desert is a land with no water, covered with sand.

A dessert is a sweet dish that you have at the end of your meal, such as ice cream or cake. An easy way to remember the double ‘s’ in dessert is to think that dessert is ‘So Sweet’.

Dairy vs. Diary

Dairy is a place where milk is processed.

A diary is a personal journal where you write about your experiences.

Launch vs. Lunch

To launch something is to let it fly.

Lunch is the meal that you have at midday.

Mail vs. Male

Mail means letters and parcels.

Male is the gender of a man.

Message vs. Massage

A message is a bit of information that you pass on to someone.

Giving someone a massage means rubbing a person’s muscles to help them relax.

Plain vs. Plane

Plain means simple or flat.

A plane is the same as an airplane.

Reminder vs. Remainder

A reminder helps you remember something.

A remainder is a part of something that is left after the rest was removed. An easy way to remember the difference in spelling is to think of the word ‘remain’ as part of ‘remainder’.

Stationary vs. Stationery

The word ‘stationary‘ refers to something that isn’t moving (e.g. a stationary vehicle).

Stationery means pens, pencils, paper and envelopes.

Trail vs. Trial

A trail is a cleared path through the forest.

A trial means a test of performance of a new product or service.

What other words do you find confusing or tricky? Let us know in comments, and we’ll add them to the list!

Do’s and don’ts of IELTS essays (Band 7+)

As promised, today we are sharing Kathrine’s tips for writing a high scoring IELTS essay. Following these simple principles increased her Band score from 7 to 8.5 in Writing, and the same can happen for you! If you aren’t familiar with the term “do’s and don’ts”, it’s really simple: do’s are the things you should do, and don’ts are the things you should avoid.

The Do’s of IELTS Essay

– Conciseness (8-15 words per sentence)
– Cohesion (link ideas, paragraphs, sentences together)
– Coherence (all ideas should be easily understood by the reader)
– Composition (use the correct essay structure)
– Answer the question fully (cover all points asked in the task statement)

Band 7+ essays need

a) more complex sentence structure
b) more complex vocabulary
c) more complex grammatical use and variation

– Use the official writing task 2 form to practice and check what 250 words look like in your own handwriting
– Read many essay topics
– Read many sample essays
– Know the right structure for all essay types
– Know when to give your opinion

– Add examples from your own experience if asked
– Use smart words and noun groups
– Use punctuation correctly
– Separate the arguments “for” and “against” into different paragraphs
– Use the right tone (essays are always formal)
– Only use possessive/personal pronouns when giving your opinion
– Lead from one paragraph to another well – connecting words are vital!
– Vary grammar
– Write neatly as it values the reader-writer relationship
– Write maturely to reflect mature way of thinking
– Make a plan in 3-5 minutes: it makes your essay more organised, mature and conveys the positive image of YOU.
– Make your opinion very clear: formal and reasoned point of view, give details.

The Don’ts of IELTS Essay

– Write too many words if your English is average (aim for 250-265)
– Use contractions such as “don’t”, “shouldn’t”, etc
– Overuse connecting words (assessors expect that!)
– Jump from one idea to the next: link, link, link!
– Mix arguments “for” and “against” in the same paragraph
– Use the wrong tone (essays are always formal)
– Use abbreviations
– Repeat words or overuse primitive verbs (does, makes, gets)
– Cross out many things
– Write illegibly
– Use idioms too frequently or inappropriately
– Write in a babyish manner (bad grammar and poorly developed ideas)
– Become a clock victim (constantly look at the clock and panic)
– Start writing without a plan
– Forget to leave a blank line between paragraphs
– Use generalisations (“All”, “Every”) as this reflects an immature way of thinking
– Use simple sentences if you want a high score
– Use cliches as they are often too informal
– Use ‘lazy’ expressions (“and so on”, “etc”).
– Copy part of task question
– Agree with both sides – choose one side to make your opinion clear
– Let adrenaline make you arrogant
– Go off topic

These tips are not exhaustive but will give you some important points how to pass the IELTS Writing test with a high Band Score.



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