Advanced Grammar for IELTS: Modal verbs (3): will, would, shall – Diagnose Test, Grammar Explanation & Practice Exercises
A DIAGNOSTIC TEST: Modal verbs (3): will, would, shall
Complete the sentences with will, ‘ll, won’t, would, wouldn’t or shall and the correct form of the words in brackets.
The new play on Broadway is really good, but I don’t like Sean Penn in it. Kevin Bacon……would be……(be) much better.
1 We had to hurry to get him to the hospital. We knew it …………….. (be) too late otherwise.
2 ‘I wonder where Dad is.’ ‘He …………….. (drive) to the airport, I should think.’
3 ‘Oh dear. The lecture starts at nine o’clock. I’m late!’ ‘Don’t worry. This lecturer’s always late. He …………….. (not/start) yet.’
4 At this point in the season, the parents …………….. (eat) their young rather than allow a predator to attack them.
5 The doctor …………….. (act) as a witness to your signature. She doesn’t mind doing that sort of thing.
6 The PA …………….. (not/book) my flights. She says it isn’t in her job description.
7 Dad …………….. (always/help) us out financially when we were at university, however difficult it was for him.
8 The police interrogated the terrorist for more than four hours, but she …………….. (not/reveal) the names of her co-conspirators.
9 You look tired. …………….. (I/make) supper this evening?
10 What …………….. (we/do) with Tom if he doesn’t get into university?
11 …………….. (you/be) so kind as to help me across the road, young man?
12 We …………….. (like) everyone in this room to feel comfortable with the proposal.
Circle the correct meaning or interpretation (a or b) for each sentence.
It would be so nice to live by the sea.
a The speaker lives by the sea.
b The speaker doesn’t live by the sea.
13 If anyone rings in the next few minutes, I’ll be in the storeroom.
a I’m in the storeroom now.
b I’m going to the storeroom.
14 Ralph isn’t here right now, I’m afraid. He’ll be at the office.
a He is at the office now.
b He’s on his way to the office.
15 I’ve tried it again and again but the computer just won’t accept my disc. I don’t understand it.
a I’m annoyed with the computer.
b I am not concerned about the computer.
16 It’s a relief that Annie’s changed class. She would argue with everything I said.
a I didn’t mind the arguments.
b The arguments annoyed me.
17 The secretary shall minute the proceedings of each meeting.
a The secretary is offering to do it.
b The secretary is instructed to do it.
18 ‘It looks as though the fuel crisis is over.’ ‘I wouldn’t be too sure.’
a The second speaker agrees,
b The second speaker doesn’t agree.
19 It would be so nice to have a little cottage in the country.
a The speaker doesn’t have a cottage,
b The speaker has a cottage.
20 I would have liked to meet the professor while he was here.
a The speaker met the professor,
b The speaker didn’t meet the professor.
B GRAMMAR EXPLANATION: Modal verbs (3): will, would, shall
Learners of English often think of ‘will’ as a way of expressing the future and of ‘would’ as a word which is used mainly in conditional sentences, but we use both of these modal verbs to express a number of other meanings. This unit also looks at ‘shall’ which, although it is the least-used modal in English, we can use to express a variety of meanings.
- PREDICTION AND CERTAINTY
1A. Predictions about the future
We use will/won’t to make predictions about the future:
He’s been found guilty of murder. He’ll be in prison for a long time.
You must work hard for this exam. It won ’t be easy.
1B. Past predictions about the future
Sometimes we wish to express a prediction about the future that someone made in the past. For this we often use would/wouldn’t (would is the past form of will):
We had to hurry to get him to the hospital. We knew it would be too late otherwise.
This use of would is related to the use of would in reported speech:
I’m sure the Lions will win the rugby series this year. ==> She was sure the Lions would win the rugby series.
1C. Certainty about the present
We make confident ‘predictions’ about the present based on our knowledge or previous experience (or on current expectations) with will/ won’t:
‘Rachel’s in Turkey at the moment.’ I hope she’s taken some winter clothes because it won’t be warm at this time of year. ‘
Compare this use of will and the present simple. We use the present simple to state a fact without expressing an opinion as to the certainty or otherwise of the event:
Janet isn’t here at the moment. She’s in France. (Fact – the speaker knows it’s true.)
To say that we believe something is certain, we use will/won’t:
It’s five o’clock. Janet ’ll be in Paris now. (Certainty – the speaker believes it’s true.)
To express a certainty about something ongoing (i.e. where we would use the present continuous for a fact), we use will/won’t + be + -ing form:
Jason is sympathetic because he knows his successor will be having a hard time at the moment.
1D. Certainty about the past
To refer to something which we feel certain has happened (but do not actually know), we use will have + past participle:
We sent the invitations on Monday, so they will have received them by now. Why hasn’t anyone replied?
This is similar to must have + past participle:
We sent the invitations on Monday, so they must have received them by now.
We use won’t have + past participle to refer to something which we feel certain has not happened:
We sent the invitations by second-class post. They won’t have received them yet.
Note: We do not use mustn’t have + past participle in this way, but we can use can’t have:
X We sent the invitations by second-class post. They mustn’t have received them yet.
✓ We sent the invitations by second-class post. They can’t have received them yet.
- CHARACTERISTICS, HABITS AND ROUTINES
We often use will/won’t to talk about actions that have become so routine that they are predictable:
Every lesson is the same: he’ll sit down, get his books out and then he’ll start giving us instructions. He won’t greet us or show any interest in us.
We can extend this use of will to talk about habits and characteristics:
The public will always side with the nurses in any dispute.
The dominant male of the group will not tolerate the presence of other males.
We can also use the present simple to describe characteristics and habits:
The public always sides with the nurses in any dispute.
The dominant male of the group does not tolerate the presence of other males.
We often use will when talking about the characteristics of capacity or ability:
The Olympic stadium in Sydney will hold 110.000 people.
This model will do 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in eight seconds.
It is also possible to use can and the present simple for these last two uses with no change in meaning:
The Olympic stadium in Sydney can hold/ holds 110.000 people.
This model can do/ does 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in eight seconds.
We use will (not the present simple) to describe an annoying habit or to make a criticism:
We enjoy going out with Frank and Carol, but they will argue in public!
Note: We do not contract will when we use it to describe an annoying habit – we stress it:
X Geoff ’ll leave the lights on when he’s last out of the office.
✓ Geoff will leave the lights on when he’s last out of the office!
We often use will/won’t to criticise inanimate objects in this way:
Whatever I do, my car won’t start first time on cold mornings.
To state a simple fact with no (or little) annoyance, we use the present simple:
My car doesn’t start/never starts first time on cold mornings.
We use would/wouldn’t to talk about habits in the past:
Every lesson was the same: he’d sit down and get his books out, then he’d start giving us instructions. He wouldn’t greet us or show any interest in us.
We can use would/wouldn’t to criticise or talk about annoying habits in the past:
I miss Dad, even though he would always tell me how to run my life!
Note: We do not usually contract would to ‘d when we use it in this way; we stress it:
When Alan was a toddler he would cling on to me whenever a stranger came in.
However, we do not always stress would when it is followed by an adverb:
My boss was awful: he’d invariably find something for me to do at five o’clock.
We can use would/wouldn’t to talk about inanimate objects:
The car would never start on winter mornings when we were in Sweden.
- WILLINGNESS AND REFUSAL
3A. Present/future willingness and refusal
We use will to express willingness to do something:
The doctor will act as a witness to your signature. She doesn’t mind doing that sort of thing.
We can use it to express be willing to. In this sense, we can use will/ won’t in the if clause of a first conditional:
If you’ll take a seat for a moment, Mr Franks will be with you soon. (If you are willing to take a seat for a moment,…)
We use won’t/ shan’t to express unwillingness or refusal to do something:
The PA won’t book my flights. She says it isn’t in her job description.
‘Go and buy some milk, will you, love?’ ‘No, I shan’t. I’m busy.’
3B. Past willingness and refusal
We use would/wouldn’t to show willingness or refusal In the past. We use would in the affirmative only to refer to general willingness (i.e. a habit):
Dad would always help us with our maths homework.
Note: We do not use would in the affirmative to express willingness to do something on a single occasion in the past:
X The tour guide was very helpful. She would contact the Consulate for me when I lost my passport.
✓ The tour guide was very helpful. She contacted I offered to contact the Consulate for me when I lost my passport.
We can use would not for refusal on a single occasion in the past:
The shop assistant wouldn’t change this jumper for me, even though I hadn’t worn it.
- OTHER USES OF WILL/SHALL/WOULD
4A. Offers and promises
We can use both will and shall to make offers. We use will in the affirmative, both to make offers to do something ourselves and on behalf of other people:
Sit down. I’ll wash up this evening.
Your car sounds a bit rough. Harry will take a quick look at it, if you like.
We use shall in questions to make more tentative offers than with will in the affirmative:
Shall I wash up this evening?
We use will to make promises:
My government will turn round the economy and reduce unemployment.
We can use would, will or won’t when we offer something to another person:
Would you have/ like some more of the pie? (neutral)
Will you have some more of the pie? (neutral)
Won’t you have some more of the pie? (more encouraging)
We use shall in questions with we to make suggestions:
Shall we go out for a curry tonight? (= Why don’t we …?/How about …?)
To ask for suggestions or advice, we can use shall with a question word:
What shall we do about Tom if he doesn’t get into a university?
US English uses should in preference to shall for suggestions:
Let’s decide what to do this evening. Should we go bowling?
Note: We use shall in question tags after let’s.
Let’s forget about it now and talk about something else, shall we?
Note: We use would in suggestions or responding to invitations if we want to be more tentative or distant:
It would be a good idea to get together one evening.
‘Come to dinner on Sunday. ’ ‘That would be nice. I’ll let you know.’
We often make requests with will. These requests are informal and we usually use them only with people we know quite well:
Will you give me a call when you get to the hotel?
We use would to make requests more tentative or polite, or to request things of people we do not know so well:
Would you lend me the car tomorrow night. Dad?
Would you fill in this form, please, sir?
We can make a request more insistent by using will you as a question tag:
Come and look at this, will you?
If we make a request in this way, we do not expect the answer to be ‘no’:
Pick up my suit from the cleaner’s when you’re out, will you?
4D. Orders and instructions
We use will and shall for orders and formal instructions. We use shall for more formal instructions, especially in official documents:
You will/shall all stay behind for thirty minutes and clean this room.
The secretary shall minute the proceedings of each meeting.
We also use shall/ will for rules, for example of examinations and competitions:
The judge’s decision shall be final.
We can use would/ wouldn’t to show disagreement in a polite way:
I wouldn’t say that.
I wouldn’t go that far.
4F. Expressing desires and preferences
We often use would with verbs of liking and preference (like. love, prefer, etc.) to express desires and preferences which we think we can realise:
We’d love to come to your wedding on 6th September. Thank you for the invitation.
I’d prefer to lose weight by a tried and tested method than by a new trendy diet.
We can use would with rather to express a preference:
Our delegates would rather not stay at the conference centre.
Note: Note that we can use an object with these forms:
I would like you to listen to me when I ‘m talking!
- HYPOTHETICAL WOULD
5A. Hypothetical desires about the present/future
We use would with be or verbs of liking and wishing to express a desire for the present or future. Fulfilment of the desire is impossible or improbable:
It would be so nice to live by the sea. (The speaker doesn’t live by the sea.)
I would prefer to be a man. (The speaker is a woman.)
To state a simple fact, we use the present simple:
It is nice to live by the sea.
We can use the present simple (like) to talk about something we currently like and do, but we use would like to talk about an unfulfilled desire:
I like to stay in five-star hotels. (I do stay in five-star hotels and enjoy it.)
I would like to stay in five-star hotels. (I don’t stay in them, but it’s my desire.)
Wish + would expresses a desire for another person (not) to do something:
I wish you wouldn’t talk with your mouth full!
5B. Hypothetical desires about the past
If we want to comment on a hypothetical situation in the past, we use would/ wouldn’t + have + past participle:
It would have been a good idea to notify us in advance of your intentions. (= The person did not notify anyone in advance.)
Note: British English often uses the perfect infinitive here:
(It would have been a good idea to have notified us in advance ….)
C PRACTICE EXERCISE
Complete these dialogues with will, won’t, would, wouldn’t, + have if necessary, and a form of the verbs in the box. The first one is given as an example (0).
|argue come have hold prepare say start stop watch work|
0 ‘Sue says she’s enjoying the job but she’s putting on weight.’
‘Yes, that ….will be…. because of all those long business lunches.’
1 ‘Are you having problems with your new camera?’
‘Yes, the flash………. in semi-darkness, only when it’s fully dark.’
2 ‘Shop assistants used to be more polite, didn’t they?’
‘Yes, a few years ago they ………. always………. “please” and “thank you” and smile.’
3 ‘Surely there are too many people here to get on one plane?’
‘No, a jumbo jet ………. easily ………. over 300 people.’
4 ‘I hope Josh is OK at that summer camp. He might be homesick.’
Don’t worry about him. He ………. a great time!’
5 ‘Do you think that the jury will acquit Nick?’
‘I hope so. I’m sure that his lawyer ………. a solid defence.’
6 ‘I don’t think this new secretary is as good as Janice was.’
‘I don’t know. Janice………. always ………. whenever you pointed out errors in her typing.’
7 ‘The new horse at the riding stables seems to be working out very well.’
Quite well, but he ………. and eat whenever he gets the opportunity!’
8 ‘Oh no, I’ve just noticed a mistake in the headline for the front page article!’
‘Phone the printers. They ………. printing it yet – they don’t print until early morning.’
9 ‘What happened after the car broke down?’
Well, we knew that traffic………. along that road so late, so we slept in the car.’
10 Why are you and Jack arguing so much these days?’
‘He takes me for granted. He ………. TV every evening and ignore me completely.’
Rewrite the underlined parts of this phone conversation, using will, won’t, would and wouldn’t.
JAKE 020 7543 9216.
ALICE Hi, Jake. It’s Alice here.
JAKE Alice, how nice to hear from you!
ALICE Actually, Jake, I’m phoning to ask you for some advice.
JAKE (0) I’m willing to help you if I can, of course. ……….I’ll help you…………….
ALICE Your mother receives help from the Council, doesn’t she? Can you tell me what (1) they agree to do and what (2) they don’t agree to do for older people?
JAKE Yes, of course. Mum has a home help. She comes three times a week. (3) She’s perfectly happy to do light cleaning and (4) she’s willing to get the shopping, but (5) she refuses to do anything heavy.
ALICE That’s fair enough. What about cooking?
JAKE Well, when she first started (6) she was happy to prepare supper when she came, but she stopped that after a few weeks.
ALICE Why was that?
JAKE You know my mum. (7) She insists on saying exactly what she thinks. Apparently the home help used to make Italian food and Mum didn’t like it. (8) She refused to eat it. Why are you asking, anyway?
ALICE It’s Dad. He can’t move around very easily now. The neighbours are great, they (9) make a habit of popping in now and again but (10) he’s unwilling to ask them for help if he’s in trouble.
JAKE Mmm. You can understand that.
ALICE Oh, but he’s so impatient. I take him to the shops once a week, but yesterday (11) the car refused to start and I was about half an hour late. (12) Was he willing to wait for me? No, (13) he insists on trying to cope by himself! He went to the shops and collapsed on the way there.
JAKE Oh, dear. It’s a worry, isn’t it? Look, (14) if you don’t mind waiting for a few minutes. I’ll look out the phone number for the right person at social services.
Complete the dialogues below the pictures. Use will, shall or would.
Student 1: Will you pass me the dictionary, please?
Student 2: Yes, here you are.
Friend: I won’t, thanks. I’m trying to lose weight
Student: Oh, Miss, not another essay for homework! We’ve already written two this week.
Women: Oh, yes, please! We always need someone to take the minutes.
Police Officer: ………………………………………………………..
Thief: Come with you? No, why should I?
Man: I don’t understand what you want from me!
Man: But I do respect you!
Read the article and then decide which word or phrase A, B or C below best fills each space. Circle the letter you choose for each question. The exercise begins with an example (0).
Words, words, words
The words that caught the mood of the decade are all there in book published yesterday – clone, concentration camp, gene, depression – except that was not the 1990s; these words (0)… current in the 1900s.
The Guinness Book of the Twentieth Century cites lists of buzzwords for each decade of the last century. At the outset of the 20th century, few people would have guessed that it (1)…….. more language change than ever before. Of course, before the days of the communications revolution language evolved much more slowly. Many people today (2)…… language not to change at all, but that is an unrealistic dream in the age of the global village.
Words you(3)……every day, such as chatline and trainers, (4)…..only thirty years ago. And a word as universal as teenager gained common currency only in the l940s. Words change in meaning too: a scientist in the 1960s (5)……. clone to refer only to plants. And anyone who asked ‘(6)…… we watch the soap tonight?’ would have encountered total incomprehension before the Second World War. (Soap was what you washed with.)
There is a more worrying side to this, if you consider that new coinage reflects the society it comes from. Only twenty years ago few people (7)……. stalking, ethnic cleansing or road rage – concepts that the world (8)………perhaps be better without. It (9) ……. nice to think that the 21st century (10)……. us happier words, but don’t hold your breath!
|A would have been
A will bring
A would rather
A will hear
A would not have been recognised
A wouldn’t understand
A shall have understood
A will be
A would bring
|B would be
B would prefer
B will be hearing
B would not be recognised
B will be understanding
B would have understood
B would be
B would have brought
|C will have been
C would bring
C will prefer
C will have heard
C will not recognise
C would have understood
C will have understood
C would have been
C will bring
Read the statements from people who have or have had a disadvantaged life. Complete the sentences, expressing the people’s desires and regrets about the past. Use the word in brackets.
0 We don’t have running water in our homes. We have to collect water from the stream or from a pipe in the village. (like)
Aisha …..would like to have running water in her homes…….
- We live in a wooden shack outside the city. It’s very small but eight of us live in it. It’s my dream to live in a real house. (prefer)
- In my country we have to pay for medicine and a lot of people can’t afford it. The government should provide free medicine. (like)
- Every day I go into the town and I beg in the streets for money. Obviously I don’t like going begging, but we need the money. (rather)
- I wear the same clothes every day. I look at models in magazines and I’m very envious of their beautiful clothes. (be nice)
Hana thinks it……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
- I live in a village just outside a big city. The village is OK. but rich people from the city come and dump their rubbish in our village. It’s dreadful! (wishes)
- I didn’t go to school. My family couldn’t afford to send me. So now I can only get a badly-paid job. It’s such a pity, because I enjoy learning new things. (been good)
Maria thinks it ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
There are nine more mistakes in this text connected with the language in this unit. Underline the mistakes and correct them.
1 I’ll never forget the day my life changed. It was a normal day – in those days I
2 shall do my homework straight after school so that I could go and listen to pop => would
3 music at Janice’s after dinner. So I was sitting in front of the fire, trying to keep
4 warm. Mum was ironing. I looked at the clock.
5 Dad’s late,’ I remarked to Mum.
6 It’s Thursday. He’d be visiting Granny.’
7 My grandmother lived in a cold, draughty cottage on the moors. Mum and
8 Dad wanted her to move in with us, but our house was very small, and she won’t
9 They knew that the cold winter months would have hastened her death – she
10 already suffered from chronic bronchitis – but she was a stubborn old woman
11 who will insist on her independence.
12 Won’t it be nice if we had some money? We could buy a big house and
13 Granny could have a flat of her own in it. I hate being poor.’
14 Oh. pet, I shan’t say we’re poor. We’re not as well off as some, but we’ve
15 got a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.’ Mum would always see
16 the best in every situation. It really annoyed me! ‘Will I make a nice cup of tea?
17 Your Dad would be frozen when he gets in. He’ll want to save the bus fare so
18 I’m sure he’s walked all the way from your grandmother’s.’
19 At that moment, the door opened and Dad walked in, waving a slip of paper.
20 ‘Forget the tea, Mary. We’re going out tonight. First prize in the lottery.
21 We’re rich!’
D ANSWER KEY FOR DIAGNOSTIC TEST
1 would be
2 ‘II be driving
3 won’t have started
4 will eat/eat
5 will act 18
6 won’t book
7 would always help
8 would not reveal
9 Shall I make
10 shall we do
1 1 Would you be
12 would like
E ANSWER KEY FOR PRACTICE EXERCISE
1 won’t work
2 would always say
3 will easily hold
4 will be having
5 will have prepared
6 would always argue
7 will stop
8 won’t have started
9 wouldn’t come
10 will watch
1 they will do
2 they won’t do
3 She’ll do light cleaning
4 she’ll get the shopping
5 she won’t do anything heavy
6 she would prepare supper
7 She will say (exactly) what she thinks.
8 She wouldn’t eat it.
9 will pop in
10 he won’t ask them for help
11 the car wouldn’t start
12 Would he wait for me?
13 he will try to cope by himself
14 if you’ll wait for a few minutes
Q 3. Suggested answers:
1 Will you/Won’t you have another piece/some more cake?
2 You will all write the/this essay for homework.
3 Shall I take the minutes?
4 Will/Would you come with us, please (Sir)?
5 I would like you to respect me.
1 C 2 B 3 A 4 A 5 C
6 C 7 B 8 A 9 B 10 C
1 Pedro would prefer to live in a real house.
2 Esther would like the government to provide free medicine.
3 Sun-Li would rather not go begging in the streets.
4 Hana thinks it would be nice to have some beautiful clothes.
5 Sunil wishes that rich people from the city wouldn’t dump their rubbish in the village.
6 Maria thinks it would have been good to go to school.
Line 6 He’d be visiting ==> He’ll be visiting
Line 8 she won’t ==> she wouldn’t
Line 9 would have hastened ==> would hasten
Line 11 will insist ==> would insist
Line 12 Won’t it be ==> Wouldn’t it be
Line 14 I shan’t say ==> I wouldn’t say
Line 16 Will I make ==> Shall I make
Line 17 would be frozen ==> will be frozen
Line 18 he’s walked ==> he’ll have walked
Round up: MODEL VERBS
is/are able to
|She can speak Spanish but she can’t speak Italian.
Despite his handicap he is able to drive a car.
was/ were able to
|Mozart could play the piano at the age of five. 16.18
Mike’s car broke down but he was able to repair it.
|possibility||present||may, might, could||There may be life on Mors.
The rash could be a symptom of something more serious.
|She might have done it; she had the
opportunity and the motive.
|future||will be able to||We’ll be able to travel to the moon but we
won’t be able to travel to Mars.
be able to
|The doctor could see you at six; he can’t see
you before then as he’s too busy.
|can, can’t||Can I use your phone?’ ‘No, I’m afraid you can’t’|
|past||allowed to||I was allowed to leave early yesterday.|
|obligation||present||have (got) to
|Students have (got) to wear school uniform here.
I must get up earlier.
Do we need to get o visa for the USA?
You should respect your neighbour.
|past||had to||We had to report to reception by four|
|future||will have to,
will, need to
|We’ll have to/’ll need to get our visas sorted out.|
|necessity||present||must, have to,
|All human beings must/ have to / need to have enough sleep.|
|Cave dwellers had to / needed to hunt in order to survive.|
|future||will have to,
will need to
|You’ll have to/’ll need to work harder than that.|
|prohibition||present/ future||must not
|You mustn’t touch that kettle!
Guests can’t/ may not use the pool after 11 p.m.
You shouldn’t speak to me like that!
|past||could not||We couldn’t go because we were too young|
|past criticism||should (not)
|You shouldn’t have driven through that red
|present||do not have to,
do not need to
|You don’t have to/ don’t need to pay to visit most museums in Britain.|
|past||did not have to,
did not need to,
need not have
|You didn’t have to/ didn’t need to finish the job.
We needn’t have taken sweaters as it was so warm there.
|future||will not have to,
will not need to
|You won’t have to /won’t need to ask the
doctor to sign this form.
|You really must read ‘Birdsong’!
You should consider a private pension.
You’d better change the locks straight away.
|must, have to
|This must /has to be the place.
This amount can’t be correct
|That noise must have been an explosion.
She can’t have done it – she wasn’t even here
|should||The plane should be landing now.|
|past||should have||What’s happened to the bogs? They should
have arrived hours ago.
|It won’t be warm at this time of gear.
They’ll have received the invitations by now.
|He’ll come in and he’ll start giving instructions. He’d come in and he’d start giving instructions|
|The public will always side with the nurses.
Dad would always tell me how to run my life
|The stadium will hold about 110,000 people.
The car wouldn’t start on cold morning
|The doctor will act as a witness.
The shop wouldn’t change this jumper.
|I’ll wash up this evening.
Shall I wash up this evening?
Shall we go out for a curry?
Will you give me a call?
Would you fill in this form, please?
You will/ shall all stay after school tonight.
|would||It would be nice to live by the sea.|
It would have been a good idea to notify us
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