Grammar Accuracy for IELTS Writing Task 1

When you describe a chart, for example a pie chart, in 25% of your marks is based on grammar. In the criteria of grammar, the examiner will check the range of sentence structures and also the accuracy of your grammar. The more mistakes you have, the lower your score will be.

There are a number of common errors which students make with their grammar. Here is a list:

  1. Articles (using a / an / the )
  2. Plurals
  3. Uncountable nouns
  4. Punctuation (commas and full stops)
  5. Noun verb agreement (remember that third person singular in the present tense has an ‘s’)
  6. Verb tense
  7. Prepositions (in / on / at etc)

How does grammar accuracy affect the band scores?

Band Score 5 = frequent errors and there may be mistakes in punctuation. Errors may cause difficulty for the reader.

Band Score 6 = some errors in grammar and punctuation but errors rarely cause communication problems.

Band Score 7 = has good control of grammar and punctuation. Few mistakes made.

Band Score 8 = the majority of sentences are free of errors.There are only occasional errors made.

ielts grammar exercise

Source: The above pie charts were not created by IELTS Liz.

Grammar Accuracy Practice: Spot the Errors

Look at the following sentences and find the grammar mistakes. Each sentence may have one or more mistakes.

1. While the spending on housing was 72.1%  in 2010 the spending was 22%.

2. The spending on food were 11.2% in 1950 and 34% in 2010.

3. The biggest spending in 1950 is 72.1% while in 2010 the majority of money spent is on food.

4. Spending on other item was 4.4% in the first year and 19.2% in the second year.

5. The pie charts shows the typical expenditure of a household in 6 main categories.

6. There was an increase in spending in all area except with housing and education, which showed a downward trend over the period given.

7. The least amount spent in both years was in health care.

8. There was significant decrease in spending on housing from 71% to 22%.

  1. There should be a comma after 72.1%. (punctuation)
  2. were = was (noun verb agreement)
  3. is = was (verb tense – this mistake is made twice) / the comma is missing before the word “while”.
  4. item = items (plurals)
  5. shows = show (noun verb agreement)
    1. area = areas (plurals)
    2. with = for (prepositions)
  6. in = on (prepositions)
  7. There was  significant decrease… = There was a significant decrease…(articles)


  1. hi liz , i dont know when to use ‘the’ or ‘a’ in a sentence. Could you please make a video or a class on that particular grammar. It would be a great help if you could do that and i love your lessons, it helps me a lot in my preparation for ielts .

    • I have just finished compiling a Grammar E-book which will be available in either late April or early May. I’ll post a notice when it’s ready. There is a large chapter about using articles: a / the / zero article.

  2. Hi Liz,

    Forgive me if this has been answered elsewhere in your blog, but would you be penalized for consistently failing to include a space after a period or comma?

    Thanks! Great website.

    • There are no such rules in IELTS. But if the examiner struggles to see the comma or read the sentence or understand the punctuation, you will not do well for your score in Grammar. There is always a space after a comma to make it more visible. You shouldn’t alter that.

  3. Hi, very useful exercises. Thanks.

  4. Anwuluorah Chinwike Mark says

    Hi LIz

    Thank you for your tremendous effort to ensuring we learn better skills for writing IELTS.
    However, I would want to ask if you approximated the figure referring to housing in 1950. According to the diagram it’s 72.1% for housing but in no 1 answer it was written as 72.2%.

    May I also add that I will appreciate if you can point out errors in this my observation, more especially my punctuations. It will help me improve my writing next time.


    • ..effort which will ensure… / According to the diagram, … (comma)
      Thanks for spotting the errors in numbers.

  5. bianca smith says

    Are you sure that “significant increase” without an article is invalid? Can we not use it both with and without an article as we do with the word “change”?

  6. Hi liz,
    One doubt regarding Bar chart video where 2 countries mentioned France & UK

    In introduction part U have written one sentence “The chart illustrates the amount of money spent on 5 consumer goods(…) in France and the UK in 2010”

    Here you have written “France” not the France but in case of UK you have written “the UK”
    Can you please explain why France why not the France

    • I’m glad you are noticing this. It is essential to learn when to use “the”. Some countries will use “the”. Usually they are countries that relate to a group of islands or states. For example, we write “America” without “the”. But we write USA as “the USA”. The letters USA means – the United States of America. Go online and google when to use “the” with countries – you need to learn the list.

  7. Hi Liz! I have some clarifications. When using percentage without of-phrase as subject, for example, 8% was deducted, is it correct that I use the singular form of the verb? Is it always singular if this is the case? Thanks!

  8. Hi Liz,
    In what case should I use ‘food’ and ‘foods’? What’s the difference? I was told by a teacher that there’s no such words like ‘foods’ as it’s an uncountable noun… I’m confused.

    • when you reach a higher level of English, you will find that some uncountable words, such as food and cheese, can also be countable – foods and cheeses. If this is new to you, don’t use them. You need to learn from a teacher how to use them.

      • Hi Liz and Amy:

        Allow me to give a brief explanation for the difference between food and foods. Some uncountable nouns can be countable if they refer to types or kinds. Thus, foods refer to different kinds of food, such as rice, fruit, vegetables, and bread. Similarly, cheeses refer to different kinds of cheese, such as Provolone, Swiss cheese and Blue cheese.

  9. Dear Liz:

    Thank you for these very useful exercise on Grammar. I do have one plural/single confusion that keeps bugging me:
    With nouns that look single but mean a collective: e.g. population, species, fish, sheep.
    The below examples, should be verb be plural or single:
    1. The population has/have increased over time.
    2. A third of the whole population has/have two cars.

    I thought in 1. I’ll use “has” because the “population” is an abstract concept; in 2. I want to use “have” because it is talking about the actual people, but I am not too sure as “population” was in the subject part of the sentence. Your help is greatly appreciated!

  10. HI mam,
    i want to know about, if the chart shows present details which tense can we use to writing task 1

  11. hi mam,
    pls do help me with dis doubt.In explaning the map of writing part 1,u have been explained dat railway runs through dartford from north to can be sure dat its from north to south bcoz both the endings of the line are same..

  12. Hi Liz,
    Does using present tense occasionally in task 1 lower the score? For example : the pattern we observe from the graph is fluctuating.

  13. Hi Liz, thanks for providing this helpful grammar practice, it gives me an idea about what to look for when I self-correct my writing. Looking at the 6th sentence, is there a punctuation mistake in there? Should it be “……housing and education, which…..”.


  14. Hi Liz

    Why didn’t we mention 1950 in subordinate clause in number 1?

  15. Hi mam

    My question is regarding the 5th sentence written above
    Why we can’t use shows instead of show as a pie chart is singular?

  16. Hi liz
    i want to ask that how we count the words for witting 150 words i mean can we count the word ( ) ? ? May includ or not
    Thnx ur training tips awesome

  17. Hi teacher litz, i have a grammar doubt.
    In particular, I am confused when it comes to use to +verb or use for+ ing
    I’ll give you an example:
    Internet is used to watch films
    Internet is uses for watching tv

    • You need to find a grammar website to learn more about grammar. Just google English grammar and start reviewing free websites.
      All the best

  18. Hi Liz, is it fine when describing a map ( in particular when there are two different possible sites of a supermarket or other places) to say… It’s more convenient for this living there; Seat A will allow people from there to do shopping more easily than seat B.
    Thank you

    • Avoid “more convenient”: just state the information “S2 is accessible by car but is outside the town, while S1 is directly in the town center but with no access by car or any vehicle.”

  19. HELLO, I have a problem with a particular introduction of task 1.
    When there are both a pie chart and a line graph. I have two tattics and I’d like to know if they are right.
    “The pie chart and the line graph illustrate THIS and THIS”
    “The pie chart shows THIS.While the pie graph gives information about…”

    Are they good? If so, What do you think is the best?
    And also in the first example should i put a comma after or before “and”,or both after and before.
    I hope you will help me.
    Thank you for your attention

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