Mini Lesson: What Tenses To Use In Your IELTS Essay

In IELTS Essay Writing Task 2 tasks you should only use the tense that is appropriate for the information that you are trying to explain. This means that you do not need to 'show off' and use lots of different tenses. You can get a band 9 by simply writing in the present simple tense if that is the most appropriate choice of tense to use.

Lesson objective: To understand what tenses to use in your IELTS essay. To identify tenses used in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Mobile phones enable us to take work or personal calls anywhere, anytime.

Do you think this has a positive effect on individuals and society?

In recent years mobile phones and other similar devices have allowed anyone to easily contact another person regardless of location or time. I believe that this ability has vastly improved society and life for individual people in a variety of ways. This essay shall explore some of those reasons.

Firstly, one of the main benefits to society of this advance in technology is the fact that even people in developing countries or isolated places can gain expert advice or request help whenever they need it. For example, in the massive earthquake that shook Nepal in 2015 people who lived in isolated villages in the Khumbu region were able to contact authorities and tell them exactly where the most vulnerable people who needed help were located. Furthermore, families were able to reunite themselves with each other following the earthquake which helped to reduce the suffering of some people.

Allied to this, it can be said that individuals in long distance relationships benefit tremendously from this instant form of communication. No longer do people have to suffer when they are apart from their loved ones. As well as being able to speak to other people via the phone, individuals can also talk to each other face to face using one of the many ‘apps’ designed for this very purpose. If this were not advantageous enough, members of the public can also sit and order food from wherever they happen to be and have the food of their choice delivered directly to them. For example, Food Panda now do over 220,000 food orders direct to homes and offices in Thailand alone in just one month.

In conclusion, the mobile phone has bought with it an overwhelming number of positives  such as the ability to gain expert advice quickly and easily as well as stay in touch with family and friends. I therefore remain of the opinion that the mobile phone offers a far greater number of positives that far outweigh any potential negatives.

Teaching Point: You do not have to try to use different tenses in your essay to impress the examiner, this can make your essay confusing and feel unnatural to read and lower your band score. Instead just write naturally and only use the appropriate tense for the situation, this will usually mean that you use a variety of tenses anyway.

Here are the tenses I used in this essay which I wrote naturally without even thinking about the tense I was using. As you can see, I still used three different tenses:

Present simple tense = italics

Present perfect tense = bold

Past simple tense = bold and italics

So, the key message is to not worry about including different tenses, just say write what you want to write and you will naturally use different tenses. It is far better to just use one or two tenses correctly, rather than using four or five unnecessarily. This would probably make your essay sound very unnatural and non-native like, therefore lowering your band score. Keep it simple!

Now, go back to the IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay main page here for more lessons.