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Vocabulary (Lexical Resource) is worth 25% of your overall IELTS Speaking and IELTS Writing score.  One of the ways to do well in this rating criteria is to have a good range of words that you use in your speaking and writing.  Let’s look at some ways of expanding your range of language. 

Parts of speech

Different parts of speech include verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs.  Rather than repeating the same word again, you can change the form of the word.  This is a good way to have variety in your speaking and writing.  The word ‘prefer’ is a good example to demonstrate. 

prefer  (verb) 

I prefer traditional food because …

preferably (adverb) 

Preferably, I would have traditional food daily for the reason that …

preference (noun) 

I have a preference for fast food given I don’t have time to …

preferable (adverb) 

I find traditional food more preferable given that it is … 

 You will also see that by changing the part of speech your language can become more complex as different collocations can be formed such as: 

  • have a preference for 

  • find (something) more preferable 

Therefore, when learning new vocabulary, also note the different parts of speech of a word.  By doing this, you may find an alternative that is less common.  For example: 

beautiful (adjective): common 

beautifully (adverb): common 

beauty (noun): less common 

beautify (verb): uncommon 

beautification (noun): uncommon 

Another way to change the word form is with prefixes.  Here are just a few examples: 











This can be a quick and easy way to avoid repetition of your vocabulary. 


One way to show your range of vocabulary is to use synonyms.  However, make sure that you are using them in the right context and with the correct collocation.  It can also be helpful to use less common words when thinking of synonyms.  For example: 

I prefer fast food because … 

I am quite partial to fast food because … 

I have more of a leaning towards fast food because … 

‘am quite partial to’ means the same as ‘prefer’ and it is a useful synonym because it is less common and is a more complex collocation.  ‘have more of a leaning towards’ is also less common than ‘prefer’, plus it is useful because there are 6 words in the total collocation (meaning it is 6 times more complex than simply ‘prefer’ which is only 1 word). 

When looking at synonyms in your dictionary, make sure you use understand how to use them correctly in the right context too.  For example ‘show’ can sometimes mean ‘manifest’, but there are some contexts where this doesn’t work.  For example: 

The line graph shows the number of people who … 

The line graph manifests the number of people who … 

In this case, ‘manifest’ is not used in the right context.  The word means to show a quality or a feeling through what someone does or through their appearance.  A line graph cannot do that. 

Synonyms that mean ‘show’ that can be used in a similar context can include: 

The line graph demonstrates the number of people who … 

The line graph displays the number of people who … 

The line graph illustrates the number of people who … 

Paraphrasing questions in Speaking

A useful way to show your range of vocabulary is to paraphrase a key word in the question you receive in your IELTS Speaking test.  This is a good way to immediately show the examiner that you can use a variety of language.  Let’s look at some examples: 

Do you enjoy going to the cinema? 

Speaker 1: Yes, I enjoy going to the cinema as I …  (copied) 

Speaker 2: Yes, I do get a lot of enjoyment from going to a movie theatre as I …  (paraphrased) 

Are foreign movies popular in your country? 

Speaker 1: No, foreign moves are not very popular in my country because … (copied) 

Speaker 2: No, international films don’t have a lot of popularity where I’m from because … (paraphrased) 

Is it important to you where you watch a movie? 

Speaker 1: No, it is not important to me where I watch a movie given that …  (copied) 

Speaker 2: In terms of importance,  where I view a film doesn’t matter given that …  (paraphrased) 

In these examples, the first speaker copies a lot from what the examiner has asked, while the second speaker rephrases some of the key words that they have heard, instantly showing a wider range of vocabulary. 

The A to Z of IELTS

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