IELTS Listening for Plurals: Tips & Practice

In the IELTS listening test, you often need to listen for plurals. If the answer is “projects” and you write only “project”, your answer will be marked wrong.

This IELTS listening video lesson looks at tips and practice to help you listen for plurals.

IELTS Listening for Plurals: Video Tutorial

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.


  1. Amir EL-Shiekh says

    No doubt, we have been learning a lot via your site, I just want to thank you so much for your accurate and clear presentation.

  2. Hi Elizabeth, I think I am in trouble, I heard grassroots as groceries and missed a few answers as well. How can I improve my listening skills very soon? I have my test in 9 days.

    • It is a matter to practice. This means getting used to listening in English. It isn’t really something you can improve in 9 days. The best you can do is familiarise yourself with listening techniques, question types, spotting keywords and paraphrases. When you enter the IELTS test, you must have English at the level suitable for the band score you are aiming for.

    • 🤣😂 So funny. I heard groceries too. I am confident my exam will go well all the same. I have just 10days

  3. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for the video..
    By the way, I have a doubt.. it’s a rule to write only option is (d) in the answer sheet

  4. minhazulIslam says

    I have a confusion . Can I use letter s with bracket (s) in letter which is is not plural eg if the word is car and I’m not sure whether it is singular or plural , so I use car(s). Will it be corrected

    • You are being tested on your ability to hear plurals – you can’t use brackets. You must choose your answer – only one clear precise answer.

  5. Mosabbir says

    In Cambridge IELTS listening tests answer sheet, some answers are shown correct both in singular and plural form even though the speaker said plural. However, in other instances, they wrote only the plural forms as answers. Is there any explanation for that? How will I know where both the form will be correct despite speaker saying plural?

    NB: This type of answers are frequently given in tables or list the things type of questions where it’s difficult to understand the grammar.

    • It isn’t about rules. It is because in that situation with that language, both plural and singular make possible answers.

  6. Bankole Popoola says

    Liz you are simply amazing. Thanks so much.

  7. I am confused in writing plural form answers in listening and therefore when i am confused i write it like book(s) pen(s), so is this acceptable?

  8. Hi Liz,
    Love the way you reply to every question.
    I have a question too. Can you pls answer it.
    If the answer is Ocean Drive but i wrote oceandrive(no space, also i didn’t capitalise the initial letters)..i wonder, would it be a wrong answer?

    • It would be wrong. It is two words, not one. It is best to write using all capital letters.

      • British council IELTS website does mention that the answers can be written in capital letters. What about IDP? Will it be any different? Please clarify.

        • BC and IDP are both owners of IELTS – they work as co-partners, not independent partners. The rules for IELTS are fixed and cannot be changed by any partner without it being altered by all.

  9. Hi Miss Liz
    First, I don’t know how much would i thank you for all these lessons, it’s really helpful

    I have heard that I can write all listening answers in capital letters so it will be much easier to save a points, I have tried it out in my last exam and i got band 5 ( I need band 5.5 to join the uni btw)
    Just i wanna make sure is it okay or not ^_^ .

  10. Hi Liz.
    Can i write bicycle(s) as an answer to 3rd question?
    Please let me know asap.

    • You can’t use brackets. This is a test – choose one answer only. You must decide if it is plural or singular.

  11. hi Liz,

    In today’s listening test, there was a question is: Secure the roof no (gaps). but i just wrote (gap). Does it count as a wrong answer?

    Thank you!

    • If the answer is “gaps” and you wrote “gap”, your answer would be marked wrong. You must recognise plurals. But don’t worry – wait for your results to see how well you did 🙂

  12. Hey Liz, I don’t have words to express, how amazing you are (oops poor writing skills!!). Thank you for all the great works that you have posted.
    I have yet another query for you. While taking Cambridge 9 Test 3. I couldn’t differentiate the plurals in following cases:
    1)Tabular Question : Insurance For : —————– Departures
    ==> Here I could here Miss though I felt missed should be correct but based on what I heard, I Filled in the answer as Miss, (correct is Missed)
    2) You can avail —————– Service.
    Answer is Student Support.
    How can I differentiate Student Support vs Student’s Support vs Students’ Support

    In both the cases I think grammatically each of the options went well. Kindly help me understand. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • This means you are writing down the correct word when you are listening but failing to hear the “s” or other smaller sounds. So, what can you do. It’s simple. When you transfer your answers to your answer sheet make sure you check the grammar. You know your weakness so now you can use that awareness to write the correct form of the word on your answer sheet.

  13. Hi Liz,

    As you recommend to write answers in CAPITAL letters. . .is it also mentioned in the instructions of Answer Sheet if we can write in Capital?
    Reason for asking is that – we talk about sentence to be grammatically correct, for ex- a month should be written starting with Capital letters – “February” and not “february”.

    So, if we write the answer in all CAPS, then if you see the complete sentence, it won’t look correct, as it will look like –
    I will go to Paris in the month of FEBRUARY.

    Please clarify.

  14. Hi Liz,
    I am impressed and feel content with the information and knowledge that you are imparting.
    Your videos are so interesting not only in terms of its content but the way you speak gives a good idea how one should speak in a speaking test.

    In this video, I want to ask if a possible answer for the Question 3 could be “Useful Objects”.
    The reason is – bicycle is just an example but other useful things can also be donated.

    I know the objective and focus of this video was “picking up Plural” but from IELTS perspective I want to know if that answer could be correct.

    Please clarify this doubt.

  15. Hi Liz,

    I’m so impressed that you are replying to every single question even it is repeated one.
    Keep it up!

  16. Hello Liz,
    I have a confusion that is it correct to write car(s) if I am not sure whether the answer is car or cars in listening section.

  17. Jagdeep Singh says

    Hi Liz,

    while copying the answers of listening test on answer sheet in last 10 minutes of exam, is it advisable to write all answers in capital letter. for example “Reception Area” so can i write it as RECEPTION AREA in answer sheet.

  18. Hi Liz

    I’ve gone trough the FAQ in your website, but there are still something confusing about the form/chart completing part in the listening test. You’ve mentioned that the grammar in the form completing is not important. Does it mean the plural form is not important too? In the book of Cambridge English IELTS 5, Test 3, Section 4, there is a table about the recycling products from several companies. Following is part of the form:
    37._____soil conditioner_____for use on farms
    38._____containers__________for collecting waste
    40._____business cards______
    Note that all answers are in plural forms except the 37th. However, in the tapescripts, it is “a soil conditioner”, which indicates the word “soil conditioner” is countable. Considering the requirement of the quetion is NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS, I answered as “soil conditioners”, but the answer key is “soil conditioner”. Is my answer wrong?

    • I do not have Cambridge book 5 with me so I can’t see the full question and flow chart. I would need to see it to know. Your answer is wrong is you use plural when the answer is singular. But I can only explain if I see the full flow chart.

  19. Hello Liz! I have questions for you.
    If I write Illustrations and the answer must be (photograph of)Illustrations, Is my answer right or wrong? and what’s the meaning of the word that using ()? Thanks

    • When you see brackets in an answer key, it means both answers are possible:

      illustrations = correct
      photography of illustrations = correct

      This is how answer keys are written. But you can’t do that in your test.

  20. Ngoc Diep Le says

    Hi Liz,

    I took a practice test recently where there is a sentence :
    ” workers in the part-time groups were mainly female. ”
    I can’t understand why the ” female” in this sentence was singular while the ” workers” was plural. Please help me. Thanks,

    • Because it relates to the gender of them all. They were male or they were female (relating to each specific group).

  21. Manpreet says

    Answer for question 3 in this video could be “Useful objects” ??
    its two words, and fits well… or bicycle is object of useful objects..that has to be written?

  22. Hey Liz,

    Is it true that the audio will always provide the answers in exact sequence of the questions during the listening test?

    • Yes. Just follow the order of the questions to listen for the answers. This is why you need to spot key words in the questions – it will help you follow the order in case you miss one of the answers.

  23. Hi Liz, first of all thank you for all videos tips ! I just had the exam on july 8th and there is a couple of questions that are killing me, i would really appreciate if you can check this:
    1. In gardening you need to use STRINGS.
    The tape said a string but we could write only one word and it didnt make sense to me to write it in singular
    2. 3 kilos of FRUITS
    Again the tape said fruit but i wrote in plural 🙁

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • If you don’t get the answer 100% correct, then it will be marked wrong. If you add an “s” incorrectly or you forget an “s”, then it will be marked wrong.

  24. Hi Liz,

    Many thanks for your invaluable tips. I have got a question regarding the video (plural/singular).
    If I write an answer for Q3, like
    1.(a) bicycle.
    would my answer be correct? Because,It is sometimes difficult to catch a plural. Can we write answers like that when we are in dilemma between a singular and a plural.

    Thanks in advance

  25. Hi Liz,

    Kindly advise if listening test is same for General and Academic.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


  26. Hi Liz, Your videos are really helpful and I thank you for sharing those. I would like to know, if both “150,000” and “150000” are correct or we need to have denominations for separating zeros in IELTS. Please let me know.

    • In English, we use a comma to separate the zeros because it is easier for the reader. When you don’t use a comma, you need to count the zeros more carefully. So, you won’t lose marks if you skip the comma but it is easier for mistakes to happen with marking.

  27. Sooraj Bhatt says

    Hello Liz,

    I loved your tips and videos which are very impressive. I have hearing problem and wearing hearing aid but i loved your videos of listening.
    I want to know how IELTS orgnization aid to test taker who has hearing problem in listening test at time of exam?


    • This is a good question and one which you need to ask directly to your test center. You need to ask them if they have headphones where you can control the volume – or if you can submit a doctors note. It might also be good to say to the examiner in speaking “Please speak clearly and loudly because I have hearing problems”.

  28. Hi Liz,
    in listening test if I wrote (mini bus) instead of (minibus)or (work book) instead of (workbook)
    and thw question limitation was two words. will the answer be right or wrong?

    Thanks a lot.

  29. On the exercise 3, couldn’t I say just “objects” instead of bicycles?

  30. Hi Liz – I worry about the speed and may not be able to catch the things the speakers say.
    Any tips on this? How fast or slow is the standard for the listening test?
    Thanks in advance.

  31. Hi Liz
    I don’t understand why some answers in the listening test are “lectures room”. The main noun here, i believe, is “room”. So why “lectures room” is the correct one but not “lecture rooms”. Thank you

  32. engr farheen says

    Hello Liz,
    very useful lecture and i have done my blanks correct in first time but couldnt listen grassroots i wrote groceries
    so, how can i improve my this weakness.
    plz provide me this type of lecture for listening practice.

    • This is probably due to your vocabulary. You will need to practice listening and reading a wide range of vocabulary to boost your score. See the main pages for listening and reading on this website to start – all accessed through the red nav bar at the top of the website.

    • Even I made the same mistake as you. Wrote groceries instead of grossroots 🙁

  33. Hello maam
    I recently bought cambridge11 and found that both singular and plural nouns can be wtritten as an answer of listening test 1.
    Is this true that it wont effect if i write singular or plural.
    Plz help me.
    And maam your youtube video is really useful.

  34. Hi Liz,
    I am wondering is the ielts listening test’s pattern is changed recently?

  35. Hi Liz,
    Hope you are doing well.
    I have a doubt in question 3. Can the answer be useful objects instead of bicycles? If not, why is that?

  36. Hello Liz Mam,
    I hope so, you would be fine. You’re doing such a stunning work.
    I’ve a query here.
    Let me tell you something important, in your video you were saying that if we find ”article a” in our audio or question paper. Then our answer would be “singular”.
    But when I solved your exercise, there I found one interesting thing. In your Q.1, I found “a” and I put my answer “Grass root”. When I checked it, it didn’t correct. I found, you mentioned in answers as “Grass roots” instead of “Grass root”.
    So, I’m very confuse. Why my answer didn’t correct.
    Kindly help me to overcome this problem.


    • There is no singular of “grassroots”. It has no singular option. The IELTS test is checking your understanding of vocabulary.

  37. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for your tips. I have a question, in Cambridge IELTS, in the answers of the listening test some answers are written like – (the) fees. What is that means?


  38. Ravi Kumar says

    First of all I want to appreciate you for your fantastic effort and help you are providing for millions to achieve their career goals.
    The problem I have with listening is that I feel the audio is being played too fast full of information and to read the question before audio begins, follow the answers and chooose a correct answers while listening is quite a challenge. This becomes even worse if there is too much paraphrasing and speaker does not follow the sequence.
    Can you please advice for above mentioned problem? I am too much worried. Thanks in advance for your help and support.

    Ravi Kumar

  39. Hi Liz,

    Thank you very much for this great practice. As a non-native English speaker, this seems to be the hardest part for me.

    However, I have one question though. I am practicing listening in Cambridge IELTS book series. In the Answer key section, I found that in some cases both singular and plural nouns were accepted and considered as alternative answers (For example, the Answer key is written as “noise/noises”).

    Meanwhile, in other cases when the text in the questions specifies the missing word must be plural to be gramatically correct such as the text listing with all other nouns as plurals, then only plural noun is accepted (The Answer key will be written as “noises” only)

    Therefore, I am wondering if the actual test will be the same as Cambridge book that in some cases I can choose to answer either singular or plural nouns without losing mark, and in some cases I must answer plural to be gramatically correct.

    Best Regards,

    • If there are two choices given in the answer key, it means that other answers are accepted. This could be due to meaning or grammar. You need to know when it should be singular, plural or when both are possible. Any mistakes and you lose the mark.

  40. Hi Liz,

    Even if i thank you millionth time it wont be enough. You are doing such a wonderful work. Educating and sharing us all. You really inspire me. I have my IELTS exam next weekend and i can feel the goosebumps now .

    Had a query around minute and minutes. What to write if the speaker says for e.g. “it will take 5 minute”.
    which one is correct :
    3) 5 minutes

    In one of the listening test, speaker at one point said 142 Week and at other point he said 2-3 Weeks. Is it safe to use minutes or weeks if speaker is talking about more than 1 week/minute?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • c is correct because all other answers are grammatically incorrect. No speaker will say “it take 5 mintues” because it is not correct English. All speakers will say “it takes 5 minutes”.

  41. hi liz.,i am really worried about speaking test because i have problem like F P.,

  42. Hello Liz,
    Thank you so much for all the lessons.
    I’m wondering how I can improve my listening score from 6.5 to 7 ?
    Actually I took 5.5 in the last ielts exam, but I do practice by the cambridge books then I count my score which is become 6.5. My problem usually in the last section (4) and Do you think should I take note while I listen ?

    • In section 4, you need to underline key words in the questions in order to follow the order of information. Look out for signposts which indicate whether the speaker is talking about examples, main points, summaries etc. Yes, you can make notes but make sure your main focus is on listening actively and following the order of information.
      All the best

  43. Ravinder says

    Hi Liz
    How to improve my reading skills ,And how to find out keywords please send me details..

  44. My self manpreet nehal .my quslification is bsc in nursing .I want take 7 band in acedemic ielets test

  45. can you write structures of task1 band 8 or 9

  46. Hello Liz,
    If I don’t know if the answer should be plural or not, can i write (s) ?
    For instance, if I write chair(s), how will I be marked ? Or it will be marked wrong?

  47. Is the answer NATIONWIDE, possible for question number 2?

  48. Dear Liz,

    For question number 3, the answer will be USEFUL OBJECTS not BICYCLE! Bicycle is one of the useful objects. Objects can be any thing. Bicycle is an example. Could you please, clear the doubt?

    Thanking you.

  49. Hello Liz,
    I have some problem in Listening practice. I founded that i pretend that letter ‘i’ as ‘a’ and
    ‘a’ as ‘i’. So, what to do for this situation? any suggestions please to improve.

  50. Hi dear teacher Liz.
    I am glad to find this amazing website and useful videos. I can say that, You have gained students’ big respect and love on this beautiful tutorial way.I am very thankful to you.
    I have some questions about listening section.
    if it is given currency marks in the options, should I use currency mark in my answer?
    for example ” $___________” how do I answer? 17 dollars or 17 , or 17$ .
    And If I should write currency , where do I write it? before number or after number?
    17$ or $17 which is correct?
    Then , if it is given as 2 words and/ or a number in question statement.
    how can I write date of birth ? for example it is given “date of birth ____________”

    Best regards,

  51. Hi Liz,
    Can we also write our reading results in capital letters? I am also not sure if we can write T, F, NG for true, false and not given.


  52. Hi Liz,

    In number 3 why the answer is bicycles? Can I answer it as useful objects?

    Thank you 🙂 .
    All the best,

  53. hello
    mam i gave ilets exm two times bt i got 5.5 bands .i don’t know what i ‘ll do .plz help.

  54. Hi liz.. yout video about listening for Plurals is an additional knowledge in the listening exam.. .I only knew those things because of you. .please continue sending tips. .THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  55. Dear Liz,

    May I know if I need to write and speak in English style for the speaking and writing test? You know , for example, colour and color, organization and organisation. Are they strict about that?


  56. Thank you very much for your guide through IELTS.Liz
    My daughter get 7 band I have no words for your help
    From Gandhinagar. Gujarat
    Again thanks

  57. Hi Liz,

    Is it possible to have two answers for a question?..The question no. 3, whether we can write useful objects as answer instead of bicycle?

  58. Thanx mam


    thank you

  60. Ayaz Pathan says

    Hello, LIZ I gave IELTS exam twice but i got only 5.5 band. I don’t know what i’ll do. Kindly help me.

    • You will need to improve your level of English to ensure that you are produce more accurate language. You will also need to review your techniques.
      All the best

  61. thank you for a great lesson!

  62. Dear Liz,

    You are a wonderful teacher, your tips are really useful.
    Shall we write our answers with capital letter ?

    Thank you for your great efforts

  63. Hell Liz,

    I think for first answer is two words grass roots not as shown in Video
    any way thank you for your effort 🙂

    Best wishes;

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