Top Tips for IELTS

Adverbs and adjectives – avoiding a common mistake in task 1

This lesson helps you out with a very common mistake in task 1 writing.

See what you know

This is a test where you really do need 100%.

Recognise adjectives and adverbs

To get this grammar right the first step is to recognise what are adjectives and adverbs. For task 1 IELTS it is probably enough to see that the adverbs you need are -ly words. This is a list of common adjectives and adverbs. In each case the first word is the adjective and the second the adverb>

dramatic – dramatically

significant – significantly

sharp – sharply

marked -markedly

slight – slightly

steady – steadily

Don’t be confused by nouns and verbs

Another way you may go wrong is to confuse verbs and nouns. Why? A lot of the words you need in task 1 are both verbs and nouns without changing form apart from -s -ed -ing. These are the problem words. In each case the verb and noun looks the same:

increase – increase

decrease – decrease

rise – rise

fall- fall

Seeing the patterns

One way to get this right is to learn some common patterns. Here are the three most common.

1.adjective + noun

One common pattern you need is adjective noun. Take a look at this example:

There was a significant increase in the amount of coffee sold.

Significant is the adjective and increase is the noun

2. verb + adverb

A second common pattern is verb-adverb. The example is:

The amount of tea sold fell slightly in 2002

fell is the verb and slightly is the adverb

3. noun + to be/remain + adjective

This pattern is slightly different and can cause problems. It may look as if you want an adverb, but when we use to be or a verb like to remain we need an adjective.

The price remained steady at £200. 

Top tip – learn to vary you language – don’t just use one pattern

Another way this language sometimes goes wrong is that students use only one pattern all the time. You need/want to vary your grammar and it can help to see that if you can use both adverbs and adjectives you have two ways of saying the same thing.

This exercise shows you how to do this using

There was  a adjective + noun

More grammar help



Get more help with IELTS preparation on the main pages of my site

Home page

Speaking Guide

Writing Guide

Essay writing guide

Academic task 1 guide

Letter writing guide

Reading guide

Listening guide

IELTS vocabulary

IELTS grammar

Keep up with me on Facebook - all the updates and even more advice there


Or just get all my free lessons by email

Subscribe to DC IELTS by Email

8 Responses to Adverbs and adjectives – avoiding a common mistake in task 1

  1. daisy June 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    hi,teacher,I am a student in China.You have taught in China before? I will take part in Ielts in July 12th. The time is very limitied so I could only grasp my weak points to review.Your website is vey helpful.The weakest part in my study is spoken English.

  2. Toxic July 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Dear Dominic,

    First of all, Congratulation on creating this fantastic free masterpiece for IELTS students.
    As you already mentioned in the intro that you have not started any paid service, so I am asking a personal advice on my writing. I recently gave IELTS and received a dreadful score of (6.0) in writing, this is worst than the last time I appeared in 2006, which was 6.5.
    Before attempting this time , not only I practiced for months on this skill,but also took two different writing correction services, which mostly scored 6.5 and 7.

    Furthermore, during the writing correction feedback most of the mistakes were related to an article, subject-verb agreement and cohesion.
    I need your advice on improving this score to 7 or above, please help me as my career depends on this.

    My further scores are L:7.5, R:6.5, W;6, S:8.5 Total 7. I need overall 7.5 with 7 or above in each.

    Best Regards

    • Traffic Tse July 30, 2016 at 4:25 pm #


  3. hellbenttopassielts January 23, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    thanks. sums up a lot.

  4. Ahmad AlJundi February 16, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    I never thought that I will understand this lesson any how, but you did a great explanation. I am always saying, DCIELTS is the best IELTS website over the world.

  5. Feng October 6, 2015 at 7:18 am #

    Hi Dominic, I found your website really helpful, thank you so much for all the efforts. Although I haven’t received my latest IELTS report, but I do feel much more comfortable on writing than it was before. Thanks again and all the best wishes.

  6. flora fifi April 8, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    Well explained, i like it!

  7. Imran October 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

    After all I want to say that DC IELTS the best entresol to learning English perfectly/accurately not only for IELTS its also helps our daily.

Leave a Reply