How to Use the Correct Grammar in IELTS Speaking!

Using the correct grammar in IELTS Speaking is really important, if you want to get a high score.

Did you know 90% of students make a grammar mistake in their initial responses during the test?


This post will guide you through the main grammatical tenses you can use to ace your IELTS Speaking test.

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The big question: Which tense should I use?

The truth is, there’s no ‘correct tense’ you should use for any particular answer. The tense you should use depends on what you want to convey. However, you can generally categorise your responses into three situations:

  • Talking about the present
  • Talking about the past
  • Talking about the future

Let’s look at each of these situations and explore the tenses you can use.

Which is

Talking about the present time

When discussing the present, you have a variety of tenses at your disposal. These include:

  • Present Simple
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect Simple
  • Present Perfect Continuous

Examples to guide you

Suppose you’re asked in IELTS Speaking Part 1, “Where do you live now?” Here’s how you can answer using different tenses:

  • live in Spain. (Present SimplePresent state now)
  • I’m living in Spain at the moment. (Present Continuous: Temporary Situation
  • have lived in Spain for 5 years. (Present Perfect Simple: Ongoing with focus on time; 5 years)
  • have been living in Spain for 5 years.(Present Perfect Continuous: Ongoing with focus on activity; living in Spain)

All these tenses are correct and can be used in various combinations to answer the question effectively.

Model answer

am living in Spain now, I actually moved here for work reasons. I have been living here for 5 years and I really enjoy it, it’s a great place to live.

Tip: Make it Personal
To ensure you’re actively using this knowledge, whenever you are practicing speaking English tenses, try to make sentences that are true for you.

Talking about past time

When it comes to discussing the past, you can use:

  • Past Simple
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Used to
  • Would

Examples to illuminate

If you’re asked about your childhood, last job, or a previous holiday, you can use the following tenses:

  • lived in Manchester when I was (Past Simple)
  • was living in Manchester when I met my girlfriend. (Past Continuous: Overlapping events, good for starting stories in IELTS Speaking Part 2 questions)
  • had actually moved to Manchester 2 years before I met my girlfriend. (Past Perfect: Explaining a reason for past situation)
  • used to live in Manchester. (Used to: No longer true)
  • When I lived in Manchester, I would catch the bus every day to school. (Would: Past habits)

Model answer

met my very first girlfriend about 10 years ago. I was living in London when I met her in a museum. It was pure luck, because I had never been to that museum before. In fact, I never used to go to museums, but I went to that one to see a Van Gogh exposition someone had recommended.

Tip: Change One Word
To activate your knowledge, whenever you are practicing tenses, try changing one word in the phrase to make it true for you

Talking about the future

For future scenarios, you can use:

  • Future with Will
  • Future with Going to
  • Present Continuous
  • Might, May, Could

Examples to enlighten

You may be asked about the future in IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions, but it may also come up in part 1. For example, If asked, “Will you change your job in the future?” you can respond with:

  • I don’t think I will change my job just yet. It’s not great, but I think it will get better (Future with Will: If you decide now or make a prediction)
  • am not going to change my job just yet. (Future with Going to: Something decided and planned)
  • am starting a new job next week. (Present Continuous: Planned and scheduled)
  • might change my job, if I find a better one. (Modals: Might, May, Could to express future possibility)

Model answer

I don’t think I will change my job just yet. It’s not great, but I think it will get better. In fact, I am going to ask to take on more responsibilities so I can gain more experience. That might help me get a promotion in the future.
Tip: Work on Intonation and Pronunciation
To truly master grammar, practice speaking it out loud and focus on your intonation and pronunciation.


Remember, these tenses are not ones you must use, but ones you can use. The key is to be flexible and adapt your language to what you want to express.

For a more in-depth guide, check out the online course English Grammar for Competitive Exams. Good luck!

How to Use Correct Grammar in IELTS Speaking

Achieving a high score in the IELTS Speaking test requires more than just fluency and vocabulary. You also need to use correct grammar. Proper grammar usage is crucial for clarity and coherence in your responses. In this blog post, we’ll provide tips and strategies to help you use the correct grammar in your IELTS Speaking test.

Understand the Basics
Before you begin, it’s essential to have a good grasp of basic English grammar rules. This includes understanding sentence structure, verb tenses, subject-verb agreement, and word order. You can use grammar guides, textbooks, or online resources to review these fundamentals.

Practice Speaking Regularly
Practice is the key to improvement. Engage in regular speaking practice to familiarize yourself with correct grammar usage. You can do this by speaking with native speakers, joining English conversation groups, or even practicing on your own. The more you practice, the more naturally correct grammar will come to you.

Focus on Verb Tenses
In IELTS Speaking, you’ll need to use a variety of verb tenses to talk about past experiences, present situations, and future plans. Make sure to use the correct tense for each context:

Past: Use past simple for completed actions in the past.
Present: Use present simple for general truths or routines and present continuous for current activities.
Future: Employ future tenses like “will” or “going to” for future plans and predictions.

Use Complex Sentences
While it’s essential to keep your sentences clear and concise, IELTS examiners also look for your ability to construct complex sentences. This demonstrates a higher level of language proficiency. Incorporate sentence connectors like “although,” “because,” “while,” and “however” to link ideas together and showcase your grammar skills.

IELTS Speaking Band 9 Conversation and Tips

Avoid Run-On Sentences
Conversely, be cautious about using overly long sentences. If your sentences become too convoluted, it can lead to grammar mistakes. Break down your thoughts into clear, concise sentences, and avoid run-on sentences that may confuse the examiner.

Pay Attention to Subject-Verb Agreement
One common grammar mistake is subject-verb disagreement. Make sure that the subject and verb in your sentence agree in number. For example, “The team is” (not “The team are”).

Correct Pronoun Usage
Use pronouns (he, she, it, they, etc.) correctly, and ensure they agree in gender and number with their antecedents. Be especially mindful of gender-neutral language when referring to people.

Practice Conditional Sentences
Conditional sentences (e.g., first, second, third conditionals) are often used in the IELTS Speaking test. These express hypothetical situations, possibilities, or cause-and-effect relationships. Practice these to enhance your grammatical accuracy.

IELTS Crash Course

Seek Feedback
If possible, record your speaking practice and ask for feedback from English teachers or proficient speakers. Constructive feedback can help you identify and correct specific grammar issues in your speech.

Relax and Speak Naturally
Lastly, while correct grammar is essential, don’t become too preoccupied with perfection. It’s okay to make minor mistakes during the IELTS Speaking test. The key is to speak confidently and naturally while still demonstrating a good command of grammar.


Using correct grammar in the IELTS Speaking test is crucial for earning a high score. By understanding and practicing essential grammar rules, you can present your thoughts clearly and coherently. Remember to focus on verb tenses, use complex sentences, and pay attention to subject-verb agreement. With dedication and practice, you can improve your grammar skills and ace the IELTS Speaking test. Good luck!


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