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Top Phrases for IELTS Speaking Test 2024

Updated on 31 January, 2024

Gauri Agrawal

Gauri Agrawal

Sr. Content Writer

ielts speaking phrases

The IELTS Speaking test requires a candidate to speak in a conversational tone, which must be grammatically and colloquially correct. To excel in the test, candidates need not only demonstrate their English language proficiency in theory but also exhibit fluency, coherence, and the ability to express ideas clearly and concisely. This article will delve into the top phrases candidates can employ to enhance their performance in the test. 

Phrases for IELTS Speaking that 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: 

  • 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 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 these things that 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 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.

 An 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 instance- 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

. An 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 PlasticThe Development Of Museums Reading AnswersThe History Of Salt IELTS Reading Answers
The Psychology Of InnovationThe Story Of Silk Reading AnswersThe History of Glass
Biological Control Of Pests Reading AnswersCollecting As A Hobby Reading AnswersThe Birth Of Scientific English Reading Answers
Moles Happy As Homes Go UndergroundFlawed Beauty The Problem With Toughened GlassThe Need To Belong Reading Answers
New Agriculture In Oregon US Reading AnswersA Song On The Brain Reading AnswersWhy Some Women Cross The Finish Line Ahead Of Men
How To Spot A Liar Reading AnswersGifted Children and Learning Reading AnswersWhat Do Whales Feel Reading Answers

Download E-Books for IELTS Preparation

IELTS IDIOMS GUIDE
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Download IELTS Preparation Guide For Free

Get to know about the latest updates on the IELTS Exam, Eligibility, Preparation Tips, Test procedure,  Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Registration Process, Important Exam Dates, and much more!! This guide is a one-stop solution for every IELTS Aspirant who aims to crack the exam with an impressive band score.

Additional 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

PhrasesMeaningsExamples
A penny for your thoughtsAsking someone about their thoughtsAfter the review meeting, the manager turned to John and said, ‘a penny for your thoughts, John.’
Lend an earTo listen to someone If you are facing a problem at work, go to the HR manager as she lends a sympathetic ear.
On cloud nineTo be in a merry stateAfter the UPSC results were announced, Triveni found herself on cloud nine as she secured 400th rank.
Hit the hayGo to bedNeha is very particular about her daily routine. She hits the hay by 10 PM.
Full of beansUsed for a person full of life and healthyEveryone enjoys Ram’s company at work as he is full of beans.
Lend/give a handHelping someoneCan you lend me a hand with this jar? 
A piece of cakeSomething that is easy and hassle-freeSalsa dancing seems like a piece of cake to me after the first lesson. 
Sit on the fenceIndecisive about somethingI am still sitting on the fence about that issue. 
Soul mateSomeone you love and trust the mostShe is not just a simple crush but my soul mate. 

Useful Phrases for IELTS Speaking Part 2

Phrases

Meanings

Usage in a sentence

BushedTiredShe got bushed after the late-night party and decided to rest the next day.
Be earsReady to listen to someoneMeera is all ears when it comes to solving someone’s problems.
In the nick of timeAt the exact moment,She arrived at the station in the nick of time.
In deep waterTo be in a difficult stateHe is in deep waters as he did not submit his report on time.
To bite the bulletTo do a difficult taskIf he wants a promotion, he will have to bite the bullet and complete the project before the deadline.
Go/going back to the drawing boardThis means starting to plan something all over again due to the failure of the first strategyGo back to the drawing board and work out the mechanics afresh. 
On the go/moveBusy or on the wayPick up smiles and blessings on the go, since life is too short! 
Walking/going the extra mileIt means doing more than the norm and putting in a lot more effortI will walk the extra mile to make her happy
Crash CourseA short and engaging lesson on somethingI took a crash course in marketing before applying for a job. 
CramTrying to mug up something or accomplish a lot of things swiftly or put things tightly into a placeThe job applicants are all cramming for their entrances

Useful Phrases for IELTS Speaking Part 3

PhrasesMeaningsUsage in a sentence
Next to nothingInexpensive; cost nothingSheena bought a beautiful dress next to nothing and cost her 4 dollars only. 
Explore all avenuesTo explore every means to get to the solution of a particular problemShe does not give in to any problem and explores all the avenues to come out of it.
On the ballActive and awareOur team leader is on the ball with the progress of the project.
Throw in the towelTo SurrenderAfter failing the engineering entrance exam; he threw in the towel on his dreams of becoming an engineer.
By the skin of one’s teethbarelyI was saved by the skin of my teeth in an accident.
Upmarketposh, premium, and costly.He lived in Notting Hill, one of the up-market residential localities of London. 
In high spiritsElated and happyThey were in high spirits after a couple of hot beverages. 
Get the ball rollingStart something or a ventureI 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 over 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 in the IELTS Speaking Test.

Know More:

How to Prepare for IELTS in One MonthCommon Spelling Mistakes in IELTSTips to Improve Pronunciation
How to Fill IELTS Answer SheetHow to Prepare For Computer Based IELTSHow to Improve IELTS Score From 6.5 to 7
IELTS General Training ExamIELTS Introduction SampleHow to Write Conclusion in Writing Task 2
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Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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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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