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Top Phrases for IELTS Speaking Test 2024

Updated on 18 July, 2024

Gauri Agrawal

Gauri Agrawal

Sr. Content Writer

ielts speaking phrases

I have heard so many trainers say that the IELTS speaking test is probably the highest scoring of the four sections that are tested. I guess it is relatively easy to score in the Speaking test because the language used to answer the speaking questions doesn’t need to be flowery.

If you want to score even better, let’s say you are eyeing a 9 band score in the speaking section. You need to ace some of the top phrases for the IELTS speaking test. 

Top 9 Phrases for IELTS Speaking Test

Useful phrases or vocabulary for IELTS Speaking helps to maintain fluency and coherence during the exam. Below are some phrases that can be employed during different parts of the IELTS Speaking task.

1) Beginnings

These phrases are used to start speaking or introduce a topic.

To start with…

  • Meaning: Indicates the beginning of a series of points or a detailed discussion.
  • Example: To start with, I'd like to outline the main reasons why public transport is preferred over private vehicles in many cities…

Let me start by emphasizing…

  • Meaning: Highlights the importance of the point that is about to be discussed.
  • Example: Let me start by emphasizing the rapid growth of urban populations worldwide…

2) Reformulation of Questions

These phrases are used to restate or clarify a question.

Just to be sure, are you referring to...?

  • Meaning: Ensures that the respondent has the correct context or topic in mind.
  • Example: Just to be sure, are you referring to the effects of global warming on polar regions?

So, are you asking about...?

  • Meaning: Seeks confirmation on the specific focus of the question.
  • Example: “So, are you asking about my personal experiences with online education?”

3) Middle

These phrases are used to expand on points or introduce new ones.

Moving on to another point

  • Meaning: Transition to a new idea or topic.
  • Example: "Moving on to another point, let's consider the environmental impacts."

Furthermore

  • Meaning: Adds more information to the existing discussion.
  • Example: “Furthermore, studies show that early education influences career success.”

4) Opinion Language

These phrases express personal views.

I'm inclined to believe that

  • Meaning: Suggests a tentative opinion.
  • Example: “I'm inclined to believe that global warming is a critical issue.”

It seems to me that

  • Meaning: Indicates a personal perspective.
  • Example: “It seems to me that we should be doing more to preserve historical sites.”

5) What You Just Said Was Rubbish

Phrases to politely disagree or correct.

That's an interesting perspective, however

  • Meaning: Recognizes the other speaker's view as valuable but introduces a contrasting argument.
  • Example: "That's an interesting perspective; however, the statistics do not support that conclusion."

From my perspective, that doesn't quite add up because..."

  • Meaning: Indicates that from the speaker's viewpoint, the logic or facts presented are questionable.
  • Example: From my perspective, that doesn't quite add up because the data does not correlate.

6) You Forgot the Word or What You Wanted to Say

Phrases to handle pauses or memory lapses.

Let me see, how do I put this...?

  • Meaning: Signals a brief pause while you formulate your thoughts or remember a word.
  • Example: Let me see, how do I put this...? There was a specific term for this process.

My apologies, I've lost the word I wanted to use, but essentially

  • Meaning: Apologizes for forgetting a word but continues with the explanation.
  • Example: My apologies; I've lost the word I wanted to use, but essentially, it's about how demand influences price.

7) Coherence – Repeat Yourself

Phrases to maintain or clarify your point.

To reiterate

  • Meaning: Repeat something for emphasis or clarity.
  • Example: To reiterate, the main benefit is cost reduction.

In other words

  • Meaning: Restate something differently.
  • Example: In other words, it’s a very cost-effective method.

8) Variations

Phrases to vary language or provide alternatives.

Alternatively

  • Meaning: Suggests a different possibility or perspective.
  • Example: Alternatively, one could argue that such a policy might hinder economic growth.

On the other hand

  • Meaning: Introduces a contrasting idea.
  • Example: On the other hand, some experts believe that this approach may be detrimental.

Simply put

  • Meaning: Stated in a simple language.
  • Example: Simply put, learning a new language is like learning to ride a bike. Both require practice and patience to master.

9) Ends

Phrases to conclude or wrap up.

To wrap things up

  • Meaning: Signals the conclusion of a discussion.
  • Example: To wrap things up, I'd like to restate the importance of this issue.

In conclusion

  • Meaning: Begins the final summary of the discussion.
  • Example: In conclusion, there are pros and cons to this situation.

Summing up

  • Meaning: The conclusion will be made by summarizing the key points discussed.
  • Example: Summing up, we have discussed both the advantages and challenges of remote work.

35 Additional Phrases for IELTS Speaking you Should Know 

There are many phrases for IELTS speaking that a candidate should practice beforehand. If you aim for band 9, you should know these phrases. Some of the common phrases for the IELTS speaking test are mentioned below.

For those considering education from abroad, these phrases can be particularly useful in interviews and applications: 

  • That’s an interesting question – This is one of the most common phrases that can be used, which will help you take more time to work out the answer. Please do not say it out too fast, and take your time to highlight the word interesting. This will give you an additional 5 seconds to think carefully about your answer! 
  • Well, that depends on a few things– One of the useful phrases for IELTS Speaking Part 1, it is used when there is a complex question. You may feel that several aspects may influence the final answer. This may make the question tougher to answer. While you think of the things you should include in the response, you can kill a little time by slowly starting this phrase. Take your time when you are stating well, and you can add 2-3 seconds more for thinking about the answer. Take your time while you say things like well or depend.
  • I haven’t really thought much about it, but I would say Another handy phrase that you can use, this means that you have not spent much time pondering over the answer and need some more time before answering. It is a long phrase where you can take your time. Stress on ‘much and really’ and give yourself 5-8 seconds before answering.
  • Funny you should ask that This is one phrase that you should use carefully. It is only suitable if you get a question on a topic or sub-topic you have considered among many choices. It is one of the top IELTS Speaking phrases for band nine that you can use. Funny here means an interesting coincidence.
  • Looking back- It is yet another gem of a phrase, and it is suitable when you get a past-linked question. It is like reflecting on the past or thinking about any past incident or period. A question-answer example is necessary for this context. Suppose you get a question- Did you enjoy your horse-riding lessons? The answer will be looking back. I would say yes; they were truly enjoyable and fulfilling
  • Find my feet– It means steadily gaining comfort and familiarity in doing any task or activity. 

For example- I took some time to find my feet in this new city where the cultures were completely different. 

  • And then some– This means more than a figure or count that is being described.

For example- 10,000 people and then some were packed into the concert hall. 

  • Before Long– A phrase indicating a smaller duration. 

For example- He will be gone before long, but I hope you will always remember him. 

  • Read your/my/his/her mind– Another phrase that indicates its inherent meaning. 

For example- I was amazed to see how he talked about everything, almost like he read my mind. 

  • Set in their ways– People or institutions who do not wish to change at all. 

For example- My bosses are conservative about technology and set in their ways. 

  • Cost an arm and a leg– Hugely expensive.

For example- The watch looks stylish, but it cost her an arm and a leg. 

  • Burn the midnight oil– It means working late into the night and staying up to accomplish any task.

For example- You will have to burn the midnight oil and complete the assignment by tomorrow. 

  • The bottom line– Refers to the most crucial information or figure of all. 

For example-My bottom line to execute this project is total autonomy in operational decisions. Another example will be help- Do not give me so much information about his bid; simply tell me about his bottom line. 

  • Over the moon– A phrase that means being pleased. 

For example- He was over the moon when she accepted his proposal. 

  • Call it a day– End something for the night or day. 

For example- While I love the dining experience here, I think it is time for me to call it a day. 

  • Change my/your/one’s mind– The phrase is easy to understand. 

For example- Nothing that you said motivated me to change my mind. 

  • Right off the top of my head– The phrase means stating something without thinking too much or going deep into it.

For example- Right off the top of my head, I can state that the company has tasted success in edible oils. 

  • Down in the dumps– Unhappy.

For example- She is a bit down in the dumps since she failed her computer test. 

  • Chill out -Calming down or relaxing. 

For example- Despite numerous hurdles, Bob told his employees to chill out and finish the job by tomorrow. 

  • Put/Putting all your eggs in one basket- It  means putting all your efforts, money, and aspirations into a single avenue/place/thing. 

For example- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you apply to all the companies looking for engineers. 

  • Fed up with– It indicates being disgusted, exasperated, irritated, or tired with someone/something. 

For example- The shopkeeper is fed up with us today; do not needle him too much.

  • Once in a blue moon– Something taking place rarely.

For example- An employee scores 10/10 in the appraisals once in a blue moon. 

  • Miss the boat or bus– Missing any opportunity.

For example, I missed the boat since my application arrived after the deadline. Another example will help you- Don’t miss the bus, apply early, and reach the venue on time. 

  • White Elephant– Costly or unprofitable acquisition or investment, big and too expensive to regularly maintain. 

For example, the new car is turning out to be a white elephant, especially if you consider fuel costs. 

  • A drop in the ocean– Something which is a small component of a larger cause/thing

For example, you can say My charity work is only a drop in the ocean when relieving senior citizens. 

  • Bump into– Meeting somebody suddenly or by chance. 

For example, I did not expect to bump into my childhood crush at the mall. 

  • The in-thing– A fashionable thing

For example- The new Rolex timekeeper is the in thing currently. 

  • Work flat out-  Work hard. 

An example would be The employees who have worked flat out to complete the presentation on time. 

  • Run of the mill– It means ordinary or average. 

An example will be Samsung smartphones are run of the mill these days. 

  • Make a fuss over Caring excessively for someone or something. 

For example- Father makes a fuss over all of us whenever he returns from his business trips.  

  • Far-Fetched- It means any concept, idea, plan, strategy, or decision impractical or unrealistic. 

An example would be The company’s choice for its new manager seemed far-fetched to the workers’ union. 

  • A hot potato– A controversial topic.

 For example- Justice for undertrials is a hot potato in the city now. 

  • Ace/Acing– Doing well. 

For example- I aced my physics paper could be an example. You can also go with an example like- He is an ace footballer. 

  • Bent out of shape– Being upset or down in the mouth. 

For example- Don’t get bent out of shape about their speech and manners. 

  • Get a kick out of– This means deriving enjoyment or pleasure from something.

 An example could be I get a kick out of seeing pitchers hurl deliveries with full force.

Get a kick out of– This means deriving enjoyment or pleasure from something. An example could be I get a kick out of seeing pitchers hurl deliveries with full force.

Here are few more Samples Reading Answers for IELTS

The Development Of Plastic The Development Of Museums Reading Answers The History Of Salt IELTS Reading Answers
The Psychology Of Innovation The Story Of Silk Reading Answers The History of Glass
Biological Control Of Pests Reading Answers Collecting As A Hobby Reading Answers The Birth Of Scientific English Reading Answers
Moles Happy As Homes Go Underground Flawed Beauty The Problem With Toughened Glass The Need To Belong Reading Answers
New Agriculture In Oregon US Reading Answers A Song On The Brain Reading Answers Why Some Women Cross The Finish Line Ahead Of Men
How To Spot A Liar Reading Answers Gifted Children and Learning Reading Answers What Do Whales Feel Reading Answers

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8 More Useful Phrases for IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 and Part 2

  • Keep/Keeping one’s/your chin up– Staying resilient and brave despite difficult circumstances.

 For example- Don’t go to bed with that frown on your face, keep your chin up. 

  • Fill in for– Covering for somebody or substitute for somebody.

 For example- Please fill in for Ankita while she is away on leave. 

  • For Ages– It means for a sustained or lengthy duration. 

For example- She waited for ages, but he never called back. 

  • Antsy– Turning restless

. An example is – The menfolk are getting antsy, let us get away before they turn violent. 

  • Under the weather– feeling sick or not doing too well.

 I am a little under the weather today and won’t be able to talk much. 

  • Have a chin-wag– A long chat between buddies. 

An instance could be We had a great chin-wag over some good Darjeeling brews. 

  • Fingers-crossed– Wishing for something and ardently waiting before it happens. 

Fingers crossed for your upcoming examination. 

  • The wee hours– It means the period after midnight.

 For example- She stayed up till the wee hours, hand-writing all her Christmas cards. 

Incorporating these phrases into your language repertoire not only boosts your proficiency but also elevates your ability to convey thoughts effectively. By integrating these expressions into your responses, you can showcase a heightened level of fluency and coherence, ultimately increasing your likelihood of achieving a favorable score in the IELTS Speaking Test. 

Download IELTS Sample Papers

Reading sample test
Writing sample test
Ielts sample paper1

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Phrases in IELTS Speaking Tests

Using phrases can be tricky. You need to sound spontaneous and natural while using them, just like native speakers. Do not use just slide them in conversation just for using them.

Do’s 

Don’ts 
 

Be natural while using the phrases. Let the examiner know that you can communicate with the native English speaker in real-life situations.  Don't use more than one phrase in one sentence. Doing this will hamper the coherence and the meaning of your sentences. 
You should be familiar with the phrases and their usage. Using them vaguely will affect the message you are trying to get across. Don't worry about using the same phrases over and over again.
Use phrases in variations not limiting to just a few phrases. Don't boast of grammar and vocabulary unnecessarily.
Use phrases in your daily conversations. This will help you be at ease on your D-day. Avoid formal phrases for simple generic questions about you and your life.

Useful Phrases for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Phrases Meanings Examples
A penny for your thoughts Asking someone about their thoughts After the review meeting, the manager turned to John and said, ‘a penny for your thoughts, John.’
Lend an ear To listen to someone  If you are facing a problem at work, go to the HR manager as she lends a sympathetic ear.
On cloud nine To be in a merry state After the UPSC results were announced, Triveni found herself on cloud nine as she secured 400th rank.
Hit the hay Go to bed Neha is very particular about her daily routine. She hits the hay by 10 PM.
Full of beans Used for a person full of life and healthy Everyone enjoys Ram’s company at work as he is full of beans.
Lend/give a hand Helping someone Can you lend me a hand with this jar? 
A piece of cake Something that is easy and hassle-free Salsa dancing seems like a piece of cake to me after the first lesson. 
Sit on the fence Indecisive about something I am still sitting on the fence about that issue. 
Soul mate Someone you love and trust the most She is not just a simple crush but my soul mate. 

Useful Phrases for IELTS Speaking Part 2

Phrases

Meanings

Usage in a sentence

Bushed Tired She got bushed after the late-night party and decided to rest the next day.
Be ears Ready to listen to someone Meera is all ears when it comes to solving someone’s problems.
In the nick of time At the exact moment, She arrived at the station in the nick of time.
In deep water To be in a difficult state He is in deep waters as he did not submit his report on time.
To bite the bullet To do a difficult task If he wants a promotion, he will have to bite the bullet and complete the project before the deadline.
Go/going back to the drawing board This means starting to plan something all over again due to the failure of the first strategy Go back to the drawing board and work out the mechanics afresh. 
On the go/move Busy or on the way Pick up smiles and blessings on the go, since life is too short! 
Walking/going the extra mile It means doing more than the norm and putting in a lot more effort I will walk the extra mile to make her happy
Crash Course A short and engaging lesson on something I took a crash course in marketing before applying for a job. 
Cram Trying to memorize something quickly. The job applicants are all cramming for their entrances

Useful Phrases for IELTS Speaking Part 3

Phrases Meanings Usage in a sentence
Next to nothing Inexpensive; cost nothing Sheena bought a beautiful dress for next to nothing ; it cost her 4 dollars only. 
Explore all avenues To explore every means to get to the solution of a particular problem She does not give in to any problem and explores all the avenues to come out of it.
On the ball Active and aware Our team leader is on the ball with the progress of the project.
Throw in the towel To Surrender After failing the engineering entrance exam; he threw in the towel on his dreams of becoming an engineer.
By the skin of one’s teeth barely I was saved by the skin of my teeth in an accident.
Upmarket posh, premium, and costly. He lived in Notting Hill, one of the up-market residential localities of London. 
In high spirits Elated and happy They were in high spirits after a couple of hot beverages. 
Get the ball rolling Start something or a venture I decided to get the ball rolling on my new project. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, mastering the top phrases for the IELTS Speaking Test in 2024 can markedly improve a candidate's performance, showcasing their fluency and command of the English language. These phrases, when used judiciously, not only enhance the richness and authenticity of communication but also reflect a deeper understanding of the language's nuances. For aspirants aiming to excel in the Speaking Test, familiarizing themselves with these expressions and incorporating them into practice sessions can lead to more dynamic and impressive responses. Ultimately, the adept use of such phrases is a testament to the speaker’s preparation and ability to engage in sophisticated conversation, a skill that significantly contributes to achieving a higher band score on the IELTS Speaking Test.

Know More:

How to Prepare for IELTS in One Month Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS Tips to Improve Pronunciation
How to Fill IELTS Answer Sheet How to Prepare For Computer Based IELTS How to Improve IELTS Score From 6.5 to 7
IELTS General Training Exam IELTS Introduction Sample How to Write Conclusion in Writing Task 2
IELTS Essay on Art and Culture Global Warming Essay For IELTS Government and Society IELTS Essay

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FAQs

What are the tips for using idioms and phrases in IELTS Speaking?

Using idioms in your conversation embellishes the content and lures the examiner. Here are some tips for using idioms and phrases in IELTS Speaking:

  1. Keep a diary and note down all the idioms that use irregular verbs. You will need to conjugate verbs if another tense is used.
  2. Use cultural idioms and phrases frequently in your responses. This will help you sound more like a native English speaker.
  3. You should sound confident while giving your responses for the IELTS speaking test, so ensure that you frame the answers in a way you are most comfortable with
  4. Make sure you use collocations when including the idioms in your responses.
  5. Ensure that you are familiar with each category of idioms. There are seven types of idioms: euphemisms, pure, partial, prepositional, binomial, clichés, and proverbs
  6. Be reasonable with the usage of idiomatic expressions. Don’t overdo it.

How do phrases help in IELTS Speaking?

Idioms and phrases are a part of the vocabulary. The examiner assesses you based on a wider range of vocabulary and correct grammatical structure in the IELTS speaking test. Using idioms and phrases in your response will make it more refined and unique, increasing your chances of getting a good score.

How to practice phrases for IELTS?

Vocabulary comprises 25% of your score in IELTS, so you must pay attention to this part to score well in your examination. You can easily practice idioms and phrases by incorporating them into your daily routine.
Some tips to practice phrases are provided below:

  1. Practice pronunciation of various idioms and phrases by listening to podcasts, interviews, audiobooks, etc.
  2. Make a list of idioms and phrases used in various settings like work, home, and school. You can also categorize the idioms based on animals, vegetables, fruits, etc, and learn them.
  3. Use them in your daily conversations. Make this a habit, as this will help you respond easily on your D-day.

Gauri Agrawal

Sr. Content Writer

Gauri Agrawal is a passionate, professional and proactive content marketer who wants to grow in the field of content creation. She carries a rich experience of working in the Digital News sector with renowned names like Times Now Digital, and News X as a Copy Editor.

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Disclaimer

The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.