IELTS Writing: Might or May

One of my students asked me the difference between "might" and "may" yesterday. I assume that many of you might have the same question about use of synonyms. Here is a quicky explanation.

Might and may both express the idea of possibility. Nowadays, might and may express equal levels of possibility. Some people insist that you should use may (present tense) when talking about a current situation and might (past tense) when talking about an event that happened in the past. For example:

  • may go home early if I’m tired. (present tense)
  • He might have visited Italy before settling in Nuremberg. (past tense)

In practice, this distinction is rarely made today and the two words are generally interchangeable.
However, may can be used for permission. For example:

  • May I go to the concert?

(This means the same as "Am I allowed to go to the concert?")

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IELTS Speaking: an antique or an old object

Here is an IELTS Speaking Part2 topic:

Describe an antique or an old object that your family has kept for a long time.

You should say:

 - what it is

 - how your family first got this thing

 - how long your family has had it

and explain why it is important to your family.


Here is an sample answer given by John, an IELTS teacher from Australia.


Ok right then, well after a bit of thought, the object that I’d like to talk about is my piano, as it’s probably the oldest thing we have in our family.


And as for how we first got it, well I’m honestly not that sure, because it’s been in the family for as long as I can remember. Butthink I’m right in saying that my grandparents bought it, although I never actually asked them. And they passed the piano down to me, because I’m the only one of their grandchildren who plays the piano, so I feel very fortunate and grateful to have it.


Anyway, regarding the importance of it, well, simply speaking, I’d say it’s extremely important, at least for me personally, the main reason being that it has a very strong sentimental value to me. You know, whenever I play the piano, it reminds me of my grandparents, especially my grandma, who used to always play it and sing to me when I was little.


So it really means a lot to me, and although it doesn’t sound as good as lot of pianos, I wouldn’t change it for any other! Because um, how can I put it……um… I guess what I’m trying to say is thatto me, it’s more than just a piano, you know, it’s a kind of memento and something to remember my grandparents by.


So yeah, that’s pretty much it.

IELTS Writing: topic about “extreme sports”

Here is an IELTS writing topic that my students have been discussing:

Some sports are dangerous. Why people still take part in these sports? What can be done to reduce the dangers?

Here is my brainstorming:

  • Extreme sports cover all kinds of adventure activities like snowboarding, rock climbing, surfing, skydiving, and the like. There is something about an extreme sport that attracts men and women to take that plunge and just go for it. Some do it for the sense of challenge and fulfillment, while others do it to relieve pressure.
  • Whether one is young, old, or on the verge of being a senior citizen, the drive to push the envelope rages.
  • Through extreme sports, we receive a sense of pleasure and achievement.
  • It is a way to prove themselves to their peers.
  • Extreme sport athletes feed on the competition and the respect that comes with being able to overcome the hurdles of each event.
  • At the same time, engaging in extreme sports is stress released by your adrenal glands.
  • You would feel pump of adrenaline when you're seated in a roller coaster or scurrying to meet a deadline.
  • That heightened sensation of pressure building up in your chest, to your blood coursing through your veins at top speed, is what drives extreme sport lovers.
  • Safety first is a rule to live by in any activity but with extreme sports, safety becomes a very prominent issue. Each extreme sport has its own set of rules and safety guidelines that should be followed to reduce the occurrence of injury or fatalities. For example, weather and equipment condition are vital factors which must be put into serious consideration before commence skydiving.

IELTS Writing: anthropogenic impact on rainforest

Here is an IELTS Writing Task2 topic:

What negative impact are humans having on the rainforests?

some ideas and good expressions:

  • It is a sad fact that while any forest has positive effects on all human life, unfortunately human life on Earth has mostly negative impacts on the forests.
  • Billions tons of timber will be cut out of the forests on a global scale each year.
  • In many countries, especially in developing countries, the trees will be cleared for farming and the wood will be used for energy fuel.
  • A large number of animal and plant species become extinct because of logging industry.
  • When land no longer supports crops, it will then be abandoned and another piece of forest will be cut down in another place.
  • Because of this, many plants and animals are losing their different habitats. The human's capacity to harvest the trees for their wood is far greater than the ability of the forest to regenerate.
  • The water quality of the forests also suffers.
  • With the trees gone, rain will no longer seep into the forest's soil and water reserves that are underground are not being replaced.
  • This soil will then end up in rivers and streams and kill the fish.
  • The quality of air is also being reduced by forest destruction from all the dust and soot in the air.
  • With no trees, no oxygen is put back in the air. Gases are also building up in the Earth's atmosphere from pollution.
  • With no trees, no carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. This is raising the Earth's temperature, and could make further animal and plant species become extinct.

IELTS Speaking: “competition” topic

Here are some IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions and and sample answers about 'competition' topic from an native spearker.

Is competitive sport very popular in your country?
Yeah, I’d say it is. You know, if you look on TV for example, you get competitive sports shown the whole time, especially basketball, and then on the school level, it’s very common for classes to compete against each other in various sports. So yeah, I think this kind of shows that competitive sport is pretty popular.

In your opinion, how beneficial to society is competitive sport?
Well I’m not really all that sure to be honest, but I suppose it’s fair to say that it is pretty beneficial, because if you think about it, competitive sport is really a kind of entertainment for people, you know, it (just) adds something more to people’s lives. So if we didn’t have it, I’m sure you’d agree that our life would be a lot more dull as a result.

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