Word order in IELTS Speaking

When answering questions or talking about various topics in the IELTS Speaking test, it is important for candidates to be self-aware of the grammar they are using, including the position of words in sentences. I have frequently heard examples of speech such as:

  • Really he was a wonderful person.
  • Always he was trying to be the best student.
  • They don’t earn money enough to support themselves.

Most of the time, this involves adverbs and where they should be placed. There are, however, several possible positions for some types of adverbs, such as “really”. If you look at the first example above, this may be acceptable if your intention is to emphasise what a wonderful person he was.

Really, he was a wonderful person – there’s no other man like him!

And if you place the word “really” at the end of a sentence, then it becomes a ‘tail’ where, in informal English, this is sometimes used to emphasise or make clearer what has just been said, or to evaluate something or someone:

He was a wonderful person, really.

However, in the lesson, I doubt my student had either of these intentions, and so what he should have said was:

He was a really wonderful person.

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The other expressions should be:

  • He was always trying to be the best student.
  • They don’t earn enough money to support themselves.

Until next time!
The IELTS Tutor | IELTS Examiner since 2002

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