Using the Passive Voice for Giving Opinion in Writing Task 2

Many students ask me if it’s ok to use the passive voice to give your own opinion in an IELTS essay.

For example:

Is it possible to use “it is believed …” or “it is thought …” instead of “in my opinion” or “I believe”

This lesson will

  • explain when to use passive voice
  • explain about using passive voice for opinions
  • explain what the examiner is looking for in IELTS writing task 2 opinion essay
  • provide Free Video Lessons:
    • Expressing your Opinion for IELTS Writing Task 2
    • Language for Discussion Essays
  • give useful links for IELTS

Examples of passive and active voice:

  • The road was built a long time ago = passive
  • The Romans built the road a long time ago = active

Which should we use and when?

When to Use Passive Voice

We use passive voice in the following situations and ways:

  • when the performer (the person doing the action) is unknown or irrelevant
    • More wind power is used than solar power.” In this sentence, the people using the power is irrelevant to the information so passive voice is used.
    • The information was hacked from the computer.” In this sentence, the person doing the hacking is possibly not known or the person is not important to the person speaking so passive voice was used.
  • when it refers to a group of unspecified people
    • It is thought that the government should improve the infrastructure of all major cities.” In this sentence, we do not know who the people are that think this. We only know that it refers to “some people” but not a specified group.
  • when the person doing the action is less important than the action itself
    • The decision was made by the committee.” In this sentence, “the decision” is more important than “the committee” so the decision becomes the subject and passive voice is used. The person or persons doing the action is add after using “by ….”
  • depending on what is most important to the person or persons speaking
    • Trees produce more oxygen.” is an active sentence and “trees” is the subject. “More oxygen is produced by trees.” is passive voice. This is used because “oxygen” is more important to the speaker than “trees”.

Passive Voice for Giving Opinions

From the above information, we can see that the passive voice “it is thought” does not refer to you. It refers to other people who are not specified, for example “it is thought by some people that ….” This is NOT your opinion.

You use the passive voice in IELTS writing task 2 to write about other people’s opinions. For example, “It is believed by some that children should focus on sciences at school, while it is believed by others that children should spend time focusing on the arts.” Two opposite views belonging to other people – not you.

This means we will use it in a Discussion Essay or in your background statement when you introduce other people’s views before you give your own.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Your Opinion

When the IELTS writing task 2 instructions ask for your opinion, you must state your opinion clearly. This means it will be an active sentence. You will need to state:

I think / I believe / In my opinion

If you use “it is believed”, this is not your opinion. It belongs to other people. The examiner give you a lower score because you didn’t give your opinion. You can’t use “it is believed” to express your own views. It is grammatically incorrect in English and it is a big mistake in IELTS writing task 2.

How to Give your Opinion: Free Video Lesson

Watch this video lessons to help tips about expressing your opinion in IELTS writing task 2.

Discussion Essay Language: Free Video Lesson

More IELTS Tips

Click the following link to see model essays for IELTS writing task 2 and more tips: IELTS Writing Task 2 Main Page

See a Model Opinion Essay (Agree/ Disagree)

See a Model Discussion Essay

For tips and practice in other parts of the IELTS test, follow the links below:

Main IELTS Pages

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Can you express your opinion using passive form in IELTS?

I have a lot of students asking me about using the passive voice in IELTS writing, particularly in writing task 2. They want to know if it is possible to use the passive form to express your own opinion.

For example:

Is it possible to use “it is believed that…” or “it is thought that …” instead of “in my opinion”.

Do you think this is possible?

Post your answers in the comments box below.

Answers

The answer is now available on this page: http://ieltsliz.com/using-the-passive-voice-for-giving-opinion-in-writing-task-2/

 

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IELTS Essay Ideas: Is Art a Waste of Time?

Art is a common topic to get in IELTS writing task 2. Below is a sample essay question with ideas.

While some people think that art if an important subject for children to study, others think it is a waste of time.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Ideas

Art is Useful

  • art is a means of expression
    • children need to learn to express their thoughts and feelings
    • it is often easier for young children to draw pictures than to express complex feelings in words
  • art is a creative form
    • creative thinking should be developed
    • creative thinking is beneficial later in life

Art is A Waste of Time

  • there are other more important subjects that would benefit children for their future life
    • the importance of technology, sciences and languages
  • studying art does not lead to a successful career
    • most artists struggle to make a living from selling their art

Opinion

  • art is a valuable subject but should not be a main focus on any curriculum or detract from other more important subjects
    • having a balance of subjects is the best way to help children develop a balanced character in life

Recommended

Essay Ideas: Littering in Cities

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Is Cursive Writing Recommended for IELTS?

Many students have been asking me about cursive handwriting and the best style of handwriting to use in the IELTS test. So, I want to explain to you what the examiner is looking for in your essay and how your handwriting will affect your score.

Can you use cursive script in IELTS writing?

Yes, you can use any style of handwriting you want. It is completely your choice.

Is it better to use cursive writing?

It is neither better nor worse. It makes no difference to your score.

HOWEVER, if your writing is difficult to read, you might lose points. If the examiner can’t read it, he or she won’t be able to give you a high score. Your writing MUST be clear and easy to read at all times!!

More Hand Writing Tips:

See the following link for Tips on Using Pen or PencilIf you want to learn about practicing your hand writing on the answer sheet for IELTS writing, see this link: Official IELTS Writing Task 2 Paper & Tips

Should you indent your paragraphs? See this page to learn about indenting or leaving an empty line between paragraphs:

You can find more tips and model essays for writing task 2 on the Main Writing Task 2 Page. All other main pages for other parts of the IELTS test can be found below. For advanced writing task 2 lessons, see my online store: IELTS Liz Store

Main IELTS Pages

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

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Writing Task 2 Topics Oct 2016

Below are IELTS writing task 2 topics reported in the test this month. Which do you think is the most difficult?

October Writing Task 2 Essay Questions

  1. The advantages of English spreading as a global language will continue to outweigh the disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree.
  2. The range and quality of food we can buy has changed due to technological and scientific advances. Some people believe the range and quality of food has improved while others consider it may be harmful. Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.
  3. Do you think the care for elderly relatives should be with family or professional care?. Give your opinion.
  4. Some people think university education is important for success while others disagree.Discuss both views and give your opinion.
  5. Nowadays people research their family history, some people say this is useless and we should instead focus on present and future generations. Share your opinion.
  6. Major countries nowadays face traffic problems. Describe the situation in your country and discuss possible ways to overcome it. (GT test)
  7. In many countries, people are not taking care of their elderly relatives but seeking help of professionals to look after them. Do you think this is a positive or a negative development ? (GT test)
  8. It is generally discussed among the public that extreme sports such as sky diving and rock-climbing should be banned. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

To see more essay questions and speaking topics for October, see this page: IELTS Recent Exam Questions

To purchase advanced training in writing task 2, see my: Advanced Writing Task 2 Lessons

For the main page of writing task 2 tips, follow the link.

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Background Statement Practice

A background statement is the first sentence of an IELTS essay. It is written to introduce the essay question by paraphrasing it. Below you will find an IELTS writing task 2 essay question with model background statements. Also watch the video lesson below to learn how to write an introduction properly.

Essay Question

GOVERNMENTS SHOULD NOT INVEST IN ARTS SUCH AS MUSIC AND THEATER. GOVERNMENTS MUST INVEST MORE IN PUBLIC SERVICES.
TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU AGREE?

 Background Statements
The background statement below is good and the techniques used are fine. However, it contains two errors. Can you spot the mistakes?
It is considered by many that government should spend more funds on public welfare rather than investing in art, for instance,music and theatre.
It contains two mistakes. Can you find them?
Answers: Click below to reveal the answers
Answers
  1. article “the” – it should be written “the government”. Missing “the” and “a” from sentences is one of the most common grammar mistakes that students make.
  2. Public welfare is not the same as public services. Public services relate to public transport and the health system. However, public welfare relates to benefits for unemployed or sick people.

 

Model Background Statement

Some people think that the government should spend more money on public services instead of using their budget to support the arts, for instance theater and music.

Full introduction

One Sided Approach

Some people think that the government should spend more money on public services instead of using their budget to support the arts, for instance theater and music. In my opinion, I fully agree that money should be spent on public transport and the health system as it is a waste of resources to fund the arts. (56 words)

Balanced Approach

Some people think that the government should spend more money on public services instead of using their budget to support the arts, for instance theater and music. In my opinion, although more investment is needed in public transportation and the health system, the arts play an important role in society and should not be ignored. (55 words)

How to write an Introduction for IELTS Essays

Watch this video to learn how to write both a background statement and a thesis statement for an IELTS opinion essay.

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Can I write a long introduction for my IELTs essay?

How long should your introduction paragraph be for IELTS writing task 2? Some students write two sentences (about 50 words) while other students write three or four sentences (about 70 words).

How long should my introduction be?

You should have two statements for your introduction. You should have a background statement which introduces the essay question and a thesis statement which introduces your position or main points. This means you will write about two sentences.

Can I write a longer introduction?

There is no reason to write a longer introduction. The only reason for the introduction is to introduce the essay topic and your position, any other information is unnecessary. Unnecessary information is a waste of time and shows a lack of focus for a short, concise essay.

The key to a good score for your IELTS essay is to write strong body paragraphs which each contain a clear, relevant main point that is extended and developed. So, don’t waste more time adding more to your introduction. You will be marked down if your essay includes unnecessary information or lacks focus.

What about a hook?

Many essays have a very general sentence at the start of the introduction to get the readers interest. For example “In the modern world, technology is playing an increasingly important role“. This is not needed in IELTS. You just need to introduction the essay question and then introduction your position or ideas. You must use your time wisely and spend more time planning your ideas and writing your body paragraphs.

How can I write a good introduction for IELTS writing task 2?

Just follow this link to a free video lesson on how to write an introduction for writing task 2.

Is the introduction the same for GT writing task 2?

Yes, the technique and aim for the GT essay is the same as the academic essay. That means all tips, models and lessons given on this blog can be used by ALL IELTS students.

 

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Should I Indent my Paragraphs in IELTS Writing?

Many students ask me if they should indent the first sentence in a paragraph for IELTS writing task 1 and task 2. Let me explain …

In the old days, before the days when most people used computers, it was common to leave a space at the start of each paragraph. This helped the reader to know which sentence is part of a new paragraph and which is not. Nowadays, however, we don’t use this practice.

Currently, when writing by hand or typing on computers, you should leave one line empty between each paragraph rather than indenting. So, when you write your IELTS essays or your writing task 1, just start your sentences at the beginning of the line and when you have a new paragraph, miss one line.

Leaving one empty line between paragraphs is the easiest way for examiners to see your paragraphs. If the examiner can’t see your paragraphs, you will get a lower score because 25% of your marks (Coherence & Cohesion) relates to the use of paragraphs.

Can I indent and leave a line between paragraphs?

It is not necessary. Just aim to leave one line empty and don’t indent.

Will I lose marks if I indent my paragraphs?

No. It’s not wrong to indent but it’s better to leave one line empty instead. The key is making your paragraphs very clear for the examiner and having one empty line is much clearer.

Do I need paragraphs?

Yes, you need paragraphs. Your score will be reduced if you don’t use paragraphs.

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