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Using accurate vocabulary

Learn about useful vocabulary for the IELTS speaking test. Improve your band score in Vocabulary range and accuracy.
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© Macquarie University

Vocabulary accuracy refers to the correct use of words based on their context and form.

Ming Wei makes several mistakes, a couple of which affect the overall clarity of her ideas:

  • one child regulations. The correct phrase is one child “policy”.
  • in the residence. The correct word in this context would be “home”, or “apartment”.
  • old people. A more appropriate word to use is “elderly” people.
  • to take after them. The correct phrasal verb is to “look” after them.
  • feeling very boring. The correct adjective form is “bored”.
  • to learn hard at university. The correct verb in this case is “study”.

Accurate vocabulary based on context

Words can have a number of synonyms (e.g. car, vehicle, means of transport), but these synonyms convey a slightly different meaning depending on how they are used in a sentence.

Let’s look at this with an example. The words think, concentrate and consider have similar meanings. However, only one of them can accurately complete the sentence below:

I think that women are better drivers than men because they ____ more while they are driving.

In this context, the correct answer is concentrate, as it means to focus on a specific task (e.g. driving).

During the speaking test use words that are familiar to you, that you feel comfortable with and that you know are correct for the context in which you use them.

Accurate vocabulary based on form

Another way in which you can make sure to use accurate vocabulary when speaking is to consider the different forms that a word can have. The main forms of words are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Let’s look at the word challenge and its different forms:

Word Form Example
challenge noun The last job I had felt like a challenge for me.
challenge verb I was often challenged with the last job I had.
challenging adjective The last job I had was quite challenging.
challengingly adverb The last job I had was challengingly difficult.

In some cases, like the one above, the same word is used for different forms. In other cases, there is more than one option for a form. Sometimes one word does not have all four forms. For example:

Noun Verb Adjective Adverb
education educator educate educative educated educational educationally

Try the following two quizzes that we have created to help you improve your vocabulary accuracy.

© Macquarie University
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