Today, we’ll be looking at expanding your vocabulary on the topic of transportation.
Vocabulary sets related to the environment
As you may already know by now, the environment is a very popular IELTS theme. It's particularly common in Speaking Part 3, where you’re expected to discuss the topic more broadly and in greater depth. Likewise, you could be asked to write about environmental issues in Writing Task 2.
Here, you might have to identify causes for specific environmental problems, suggest solutions, predict consequences and/or give your opinion on the subject in a discussion. Below are three sub-topics related to the environment, each containing words or phrases that you can use to elaborate your answers in both the Speaking and Writing modules of the test:
2. Roads & traffic
part of speech
a bridge that carries one road over another road
Traffic in the area significantly improved thanks to the new overpass.
a small road next to a busier, faster road, that you use to drive to homes and shops
on a/the service road
In my city, truck traffic is not allowed on service roads.
/ ˈsɝː.vɪs ˌroʊd/
a large number of vehicles on a road moving very slowly or not at all
long/severe traffic jam, be/get caught/stuck in a traffic jam, traffic jam on the (road)
I was stuck in a traffic jam on my way here.
/ ˈtræf·ɪk ˌdʒæm/
3. Transportation & the environment
part of speech
the amount of gas, heat, light that is sent out
vehicle emissions, greenhouse gas/carbon dioxide emissions, cut/reduce/control emissions, emissions from (traffic)
In my opinion, governments are not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traffic.
noise, such as that from traffic, that is considered unhealthy for people
to tackle/ease/reduce noise pollution, noise pollution from (type of transport)
Noise pollution from trains passing through residential areas is a major concern in my country.
/ ˈnɔɪz pəˌluː.ʃən/
not harmful to the environment
environmentally-friendly vehicles/ transportation/ fuel/ alternative
Electric cars are a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
part of speech
in a foreign country
travel/go abroad, to be abroad, to move abroad
It’s much easier to travel abroad now than in the past.
a journey taken for business purposes
take/make a business trip, on a business trip
I went to New York on a business trip.
to travel regularly between work and home
daily/every day commute, to commute from/to (place)
I commute to the city by bus every day.
5. The future of transportation
part of speech
travel through outer space
human/commercial space travel, the future of space travel, achieve space travel, to space travel
There’s a lot of interest in space travel these days.
autonomous vehicle (also known as driverless car or self-driving car)
a car capable of driving itself
be driven by an autonomous vehicle
I don’t believe autonomous vehicles can keep us safe.
a high-speed passenger train
by high-speed rail, high-speed rail network/route/service, high-speed rail accident/crash/disaster
In the future, high-speed rail networks will take over traditional rail systems.
Idioms related to transportation
When learning idioms related to transportation for your IELTS, keep in mind that many idioms in English include words related to transportation but are not necessarily used to talk about transport (for example, the idiom to throw someone under the bus means to put the blame on another person). Here we’ll look at some idioms that you can use to talk about transportation on your IELTS test:
bumper to bumper
with very little space between two cars in a line of cars
The traffic’s usually bumper to bumper all the way to work.
a passenger in a car who gives unwanted advice to the driver
My wife’s very much a backseat driver - she always tells me to speed up or slow down.
hit the road
to begin a trip
I like to hit the road early when going on long journeys.
hitch a lift/ride
to get a free ride in someone else’s vehicle
After the festival, we hitched a lift back to the city.
beat the traffic
to leave early to avoid travelling when the roads are crowded
I always try to leave early in the morning so I can beat the traffic on my way to school.
Don’t forget to keep your vocabulary notebook nearby when preparing for the test in order to keep extending your vocabulary sets. If you think of other possible sub-topics that you can explore during your preparation time (e.g. at the airport), write them down and make sure to include the useful details shown above for each new vocabulary item.
Stay tuned for our next IELTS vocabulary theme – the environment!