Top Tips for IELTS

Singular and plural agreement

An important part of IELTS writing is the editing or checking process. However, because time is short in the exam you need to make sure that you use this time wisely so that your writing actually improves and a sensible suggestion is have an editing checklist. This should focus on mistakes:

  1. you make personally
  2. you know how to find and correct
  3. mistakes that will affect your band score

For almost all candidates this should include problems with singular and plural agreement as this is a common mistake that is quite easy to spot and which can kill your band score.

Typical problems with singular and plural agreement

  1. There are a wide range of common problems here. (There is/there are)
  2. This problems can be caused be writing too quickly. (this/these and that/those)
  3. One of the reason is writing one word at a time and not using phrases. (one of/some of/many of etc)
  4. The use of some phrases cause difficulty. (noun phrases with a singular and a plural)
  5. These mistakes, which are less easy to identify, is not that uncommon in complex sentences. (complex sentence structure)
  6. Checking for mistakes and avoiding mistakes is equally important. (two singular subjects)
  7. Even strong candidate need to concentrate on articles. (the plural noun used indefinitely)
  8. That do not mean they won’t make careless mistakes too. (do/does and other careless errors)
  9. There are a variety of point of views about how you should check your writing. (idiomatic phrases)
  10. I tend to agree with the persons who say that you should check at the end of every sentences. (people and every)

Suggested solutions

I hope you could identify the mistakes in all the sentences above. I hope too you saw how easy it is to make many of these mistakes – even for strong candidates. I have 3 simple suggestions for you:

Avoid the mistake: most of these mistakes are quite simple and only happen because you don’t write in complete sentences or phrases. The suggestion is that if you avoid just writing one word at a time but use complete phrases, you will just make fewer mistakes of this type.

Correct the mistake: you should be able to correct nearly all of these mistakes by yourself. The trick to doing this is to make sure you read sentence by sentence when you are checking your work. If you only look at one word at a time or if you read line ny line, you may well miss seeing the mistake.

Know the problem: go through some of your old essays. Do you make any mistakes like this? You should really be able to find them by yourself. If you can, that’s great. Make a list of the mistakes  you have made in the past and use that list for checking your new essays. We all have our personal mistakes.

Some practice

If you need some more practice, try looking through these paragraph and seeing how many mistakes there are:

There have been many suggestion that taxation should be increased on petrol and diesel in order to discourage people from using cars so much. It is certainly a suggestion that merit attention as this fuels cause a large proportion of  the environmental problem we suffer from in these days. One of the possible consequences of raising the level of tax are that commuters would start to travel less by car and start to use different means of public transport such as the train or even the bus.

There is also, however, a strong argument that this measure would have little effect on levels of pollution. The basis for thinking this is that we rely on our cars so much that we would continue to use it no matter how expensive it was. Good evidence for this argument is that more cars are sold today than ever before despite the fact that the price of cars have  risen considerably in the  last few years.

See my solution

There have been many suggestions that taxation should be increased on petrol and diesel in order to discourage people from using cars so much. It is certainly a suggestion that merits attention as these fuels cause a large proportion of  the environmental problems we suffer from in these days. One of the possible consequences of raising the level of tax is that commuters would start to travel less by car and start to use different means of public transport such as the train or even the bus.

There is also, however, a strong argument that this measure would have little effect on levels of pollution. The basis for thinking this is that we rely on our cars so much that we would continue to use them no matter how expensive it was. Good evidence for this argument is that more cars are sold today than ever before despite the fact that the price of cars has  risen considerably in the last few years.

 

   

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6 Responses to Singular and plural agreement

  1. Kosta November 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi

    I can’t seem to find all of the mistakes,some of them look normal to me

    Can you post what are the mistakes please?

    I’m guessing that some words need to have the letter “s” in it but that’s about it

  2. Kosta November 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi

    I can’t seem to find all of the mistakes,some of them look normal to me

    Can you post what are the mistakes please?

    I’m guessing that some words need to have the letter “s” in it but that’s about it

    • Dominic Cole December 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      Apologies for my slowness in replying. Here are the mistakes:

      There have been many suggestions that taxation should be increased on petrol and diesel in order to discourage people from using cars so much. It is certainly a suggestion that merits attention as these fuels cause a large proportion of the environmental problems we suffer from in these days. One of the possible consequences of raising the level of tax is that commuters would start to travel less by car and start to use different means of public transport such as the train or even the bus.
      There is also, however, a strong argument that this measure would have little effect on levels of pollution. The basis for thinking this is that we rely on our cars so much that we would continue to use them no matter how expensive it was. Good evidence for this argument is that more cars are sold today than ever before despite the fact that the price of cars has risen considerably in the last few years.

  3. setareh December 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    They were all my mistakes.Some times i am confused about plural and singular nouns,so i use wrong verb.for example ;|there is\are a wide variety of reasons /reason.

  4. Christina January 12, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    The basis for thinking this is that we rely on our cars so much that we would continue to use them no matter how expensive it was.

    why is past tense ‘was’ used here?

    • Dominic Cole January 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      It’s a second conditional in disguise.

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