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What tense
to use in
Task 1
IELTS WRITING
Lets first, see what
types of timeline you
may see in Task 1 of
the IELTS Writing
test.
Only Past
Past and
Present
Past,
Present and
Future
Without
any timeline
With time
but without
tense
In Task 1 you have
to describe some
kind of visual
information like
line graph, bar
chart, pie chart,
table or multiple of
all that may be in
these timelines:
Examples of
charts
representing
only the past.
Examples of
charts
representing
only the past.
Examples of
charts
representing
only the past.
Examples of
charts
representing
only the past.
Examples of
charts
representing
past & present.
Examples of
charts
representing
past, present
& future.
Examples of
charts
without any
timeline.
Examples of
charts
without any
timeline.
Examples of
charts
without any
timeline.
Examples of
charts with time
but without the
tense.
(It is a kind of habitual action)
What
Tense
to
use?
As you have seen in Writing Task 1 you might
have to describe a trend that covers many time
frames, so you’ll need to use a variety of tenses.
Always check the dates on the chart so you use
the best tense to describe the data.
However the right choice is :
What
Tense
to
use?
If the time is in the past, then use
the past perfect tense.
If the time is in future, then use
the future tense.
If there is no timeline or time
without tense, then use the
present simple tense.
Past Simple
Suitable tense
for completed
actions.
Past Simple
In place of “is ,are” use was, were,
In place of “increase” use increased,
In place of “decrease” use decreased,
In place of “rise” use rose,
In place of “fall” use fell,
In place of “decline” use declined,
In place of “reach” use reached.
Past Simple
Suitable tense
for completed
actions.
(examples)
The average price was £97,500 and then it rose to almost £130,000
and then it dropped slightly in 2006
prices of both oil and food increased
the trends for both commodities were very similar
the average global oil price was close to $25
the food price index stood at just under 90 points
both prices remained relatively stable
the average oil price rose once again
the food price index reached its peak
Present simple - to describe what the graph shows us now
the line graph compares
a strong correlation is suggested (passive)
Past simple - to describe past years e.g. 2000 to 2011
prices of both oil and food rose
the trends for both commodities were very similar
the average global oil price was close to $25
the food price index stood at just under 90 points
both prices remained relatively stable
the average oil price rose once again
the food price index reached its peak
a dramatic increase in both commodity prices was seen (passive)
Past perfect - to describe what happened before and up to a past time
By 2007, the average oil price had more than doubled
and (by 2007) food prices had risen by around 50 points
Past perfect and past simple in the same sentence
By the beginning of 2009 the price of oil had dropped by roughly $90, and the
food price index was down by about 80 points
The largest quantity of goods transported both in 1974 and
2002 was by road (70 million tonnes and 98 million tonnes
respectively) while the lowest both in 1974 and 2002 was by
pipeline (about 5 million tonnes and 22 million tonnes
respectively).
The amount of goods transported by water was constant from
1974 to 1978, where it showed an exponential growth, rising to
almost 60 million tonnes after which it maintained it position
for about 20 years before starting to rise gradually again.
The amount of goods transported by rail was almost constant
at 40 million tonnes in 1974 and 2002.
It is also interesting to note that almost all showed a decrease
in 1994 in amount of goods transported except for the
pipeline, which actually peaked in that year.
An essay in the past tense.
Present
Simple
Suitable tense
to describe
graphs without
time. (Static
Graphs)
You will find such situation mostly in
static charts where there is no timeline.
In these cases we can sue Present Simple
tense.
subject + verb/verb + (e)s
In these kind of essays only a comparison
is highlighted.
Example of an essay for a chart without
timeline.
Heating uses slightly less than a half the energy
but leads to as less as 15% of the total emission
of the greenhouse gas. Followed by heating the
water heating, consuming up to one-third of the
energy and leading to 32% of the hazardous
emission.
Strikingly, the refrigerator uses only 7% of the
total energy but pollutes in the exactly double
proportion. Meanwhile, the relation between
use of energy and emission of harmful gas by
other appliances also show similar results as only
15% of the energy is consumed while emitting
almost a quarter of the total greenhouse gas.
In wither times the curve gradually increases to reach
40000 units of electricity by 3 o’clock in the morning. This
is followed by gradual decline to its lowest limit of 30000
units at 9 o’clock. A gradual rise is obvious again to reach
a stationary level between 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock of
about 40000 units again. Then there is a sharp rise in the
next hour to reach its maximum before collapsing again
to a lower level by the end of the day.
In summer-time the curve gradually decrease to reach its
lower limit around 9 o’clock of a bit more that 10000
units. A gradual increase is noticed to reach its top of
20000 after which a stationary phase is obvious between
3 o’clock and 10 o’clock at night of about 15000 units.
Example of an essay for a chart without
timeline.
Describing the
future trends
In task 1 you can
also get graphs
with future statics.
In this case, all
figures quoted are
speculative.
It is essential, therefore, that you make this point
clear in your writing by adding words like:
Predicted
Expected
Forecasted
Anticipated
Estimated
Describing
the future
(examples)
likely to increase
predicted to decline
expected to rise
set to increase
Describing
the future
(examples)
Number of students are expected to decline
It is estimated that the number of skilled workers
will rise
Manufacturing sector is set to rise
Visitor numbers are likely to increase in next 10
years
Describing
the future
(examples)
The amount of bio-fuel produced in
Malaysia is expected to increase from
2.5 million metric tons in I995 to 35.7
in 2025, a total rise of 33.2 million
metric tons.
It is anticipated that the amount of
bio-fuel produced in Malaysia is going
to increase from 2.5 million metric
tons in. 1995 to 35.7 in 2025, a total
rise of 33.2 million metric tons.
Describing the
past/future
(examples)
PAST.
In 1999, the proportion of people using the Internet in
the USA was about 20%. The figures for Canada and
Mexico were lower, at about 10% and 5% respectively.
In 2005, Internet usage in both the USA and Canada
rose to around 70% of the population, while the figure
for Mexico reached just over 25%.
FUTURE.
In 2030, the proportion of people using the Internet in
the USA is expected to be about 20%. The figures for
Canada and Mexico are likely to be lower, at about 10%
and 5% respectively. In 2025, it is predicted that
Internet usage in both the USA and Canada will rise to
around 70% of the population, while the figure for
Mexico should reach just over 25%.
A chart with the future timeline.
Example sentences based on this chart.
1. Car manufacturing industry is set to decline in all the
major countries shown expect China.
2. in In Japan from 2025 to 2035 production of cars is
expected to decline sharply.
2. It is predicted that by 2030 in China, car production will
have increased gradually.
3. The number of cars that will be manufactured in the USA
is likely to drop drastically in by 2035.
5. There is expected to be a gradual increase in car
production in China after 2020.
6. Car production in the UK will likely see a sharp decline in
the years from 2025 to 2035.
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IELTS Writing Task 1 - What Tense to use

  • 1.
  • 2. What tense to use in Task 1 IELTS WRITING
  • 3. Lets first, see what types of timeline you may see in Task 1 of the IELTS Writing test.
  • 4. Only Past Past and Present Past, Present and Future Without any timeline With time but without tense In Task 1 you have to describe some kind of visual information like line graph, bar chart, pie chart, table or multiple of all that may be in these timelines:
  • 14. Examples of charts with time but without the tense. (It is a kind of habitual action)
  • 15. What Tense to use? As you have seen in Writing Task 1 you might have to describe a trend that covers many time frames, so you’ll need to use a variety of tenses. Always check the dates on the chart so you use the best tense to describe the data. However the right choice is :
  • 16. What Tense to use? If the time is in the past, then use the past perfect tense. If the time is in future, then use the future tense. If there is no timeline or time without tense, then use the present simple tense.
  • 17. Past Simple Suitable tense for completed actions. Past Simple In place of “is ,are” use was, were, In place of “increase” use increased, In place of “decrease” use decreased, In place of “rise” use rose, In place of “fall” use fell, In place of “decline” use declined, In place of “reach” use reached.
  • 18. Past Simple Suitable tense for completed actions. (examples) The average price was £97,500 and then it rose to almost £130,000 and then it dropped slightly in 2006 prices of both oil and food increased the trends for both commodities were very similar the average global oil price was close to $25 the food price index stood at just under 90 points both prices remained relatively stable the average oil price rose once again the food price index reached its peak
  • 19. Present simple - to describe what the graph shows us now the line graph compares a strong correlation is suggested (passive)
  • 20. Past simple - to describe past years e.g. 2000 to 2011 prices of both oil and food rose the trends for both commodities were very similar the average global oil price was close to $25 the food price index stood at just under 90 points both prices remained relatively stable the average oil price rose once again the food price index reached its peak a dramatic increase in both commodity prices was seen (passive)
  • 21. Past perfect - to describe what happened before and up to a past time By 2007, the average oil price had more than doubled and (by 2007) food prices had risen by around 50 points Past perfect and past simple in the same sentence By the beginning of 2009 the price of oil had dropped by roughly $90, and the food price index was down by about 80 points
  • 22. The largest quantity of goods transported both in 1974 and 2002 was by road (70 million tonnes and 98 million tonnes respectively) while the lowest both in 1974 and 2002 was by pipeline (about 5 million tonnes and 22 million tonnes respectively). The amount of goods transported by water was constant from 1974 to 1978, where it showed an exponential growth, rising to almost 60 million tonnes after which it maintained it position for about 20 years before starting to rise gradually again. The amount of goods transported by rail was almost constant at 40 million tonnes in 1974 and 2002. It is also interesting to note that almost all showed a decrease in 1994 in amount of goods transported except for the pipeline, which actually peaked in that year. An essay in the past tense.
  • 23. Present Simple Suitable tense to describe graphs without time. (Static Graphs) You will find such situation mostly in static charts where there is no timeline. In these cases we can sue Present Simple tense. subject + verb/verb + (e)s In these kind of essays only a comparison is highlighted.
  • 24. Example of an essay for a chart without timeline. Heating uses slightly less than a half the energy but leads to as less as 15% of the total emission of the greenhouse gas. Followed by heating the water heating, consuming up to one-third of the energy and leading to 32% of the hazardous emission. Strikingly, the refrigerator uses only 7% of the total energy but pollutes in the exactly double proportion. Meanwhile, the relation between use of energy and emission of harmful gas by other appliances also show similar results as only 15% of the energy is consumed while emitting almost a quarter of the total greenhouse gas.
  • 25. In wither times the curve gradually increases to reach 40000 units of electricity by 3 o’clock in the morning. This is followed by gradual decline to its lowest limit of 30000 units at 9 o’clock. A gradual rise is obvious again to reach a stationary level between 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock of about 40000 units again. Then there is a sharp rise in the next hour to reach its maximum before collapsing again to a lower level by the end of the day. In summer-time the curve gradually decrease to reach its lower limit around 9 o’clock of a bit more that 10000 units. A gradual increase is noticed to reach its top of 20000 after which a stationary phase is obvious between 3 o’clock and 10 o’clock at night of about 15000 units. Example of an essay for a chart without timeline.
  • 26.
  • 27. Describing the future trends In task 1 you can also get graphs with future statics. In this case, all figures quoted are speculative. It is essential, therefore, that you make this point clear in your writing by adding words like: Predicted Expected Forecasted Anticipated Estimated
  • 28. Describing the future (examples) likely to increase predicted to decline expected to rise set to increase
  • 29. Describing the future (examples) Number of students are expected to decline It is estimated that the number of skilled workers will rise Manufacturing sector is set to rise Visitor numbers are likely to increase in next 10 years
  • 30. Describing the future (examples) The amount of bio-fuel produced in Malaysia is expected to increase from 2.5 million metric tons in I995 to 35.7 in 2025, a total rise of 33.2 million metric tons. It is anticipated that the amount of bio-fuel produced in Malaysia is going to increase from 2.5 million metric tons in. 1995 to 35.7 in 2025, a total rise of 33.2 million metric tons.
  • 31. Describing the past/future (examples) PAST. In 1999, the proportion of people using the Internet in the USA was about 20%. The figures for Canada and Mexico were lower, at about 10% and 5% respectively. In 2005, Internet usage in both the USA and Canada rose to around 70% of the population, while the figure for Mexico reached just over 25%. FUTURE. In 2030, the proportion of people using the Internet in the USA is expected to be about 20%. The figures for Canada and Mexico are likely to be lower, at about 10% and 5% respectively. In 2025, it is predicted that Internet usage in both the USA and Canada will rise to around 70% of the population, while the figure for Mexico should reach just over 25%.
  • 32. A chart with the future timeline. Example sentences based on this chart. 1. Car manufacturing industry is set to decline in all the major countries shown expect China. 2. in In Japan from 2025 to 2035 production of cars is expected to decline sharply. 2. It is predicted that by 2030 in China, car production will have increased gradually. 3. The number of cars that will be manufactured in the USA is likely to drop drastically in by 2035. 5. There is expected to be a gradual increase in car production in China after 2020. 6. Car production in the UK will likely see a sharp decline in the years from 2025 to 2035.
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