Poor spelling and grammar detracts from the overall quality of a piece of IELTS writing. Repeated errors will result in lower band scores as it suggests; that you don’t know the correct way; or, that you are sloppy and pay little attention to detail.
Remember that writing in the IELTS test is by hand – not a computer – so spelling and grammar check tools are not available to pick up a wrongly spelled word or incorrect grammar.
In the IELTS writing test, it’s down to you.
This post briefly explains the correct usage for three groups of words which are commonly misused in IELTS writing:
- Who’s and whose
- Who and whom
- Its and it’s
They all cause all sorts of problems to IELTS candidates and it is well worth the 10 minutes, or so, it takes to understand the differences within each group.
Whose and Who’s
It is important to distinguish between these two. “Who’s” is the contracted form of “who is” or “who has”.
Remember that contracted words should not be used in formal writing. The only time they can legitimately appear is in direct speech or in informal writing – such as a letter between friends.
“Who’s going to the shopping mall today?” she asked. (who is)
“Brian, who’s going to play Shylock in the Merchant of Venice, is an awful actor,” he retorted. (who is)
“Who’s got the sweets?” (who has)
“Whose” is a possessive form meaning “of whom” or “belonging to who” and is used like this:
“Whose belongings are these?”
The women, whose professional reputations had been ruined, claimed compensation from the employer.
“I do not know whose answer is the truth.”
The test you should use to ensure correct usage in your IELTS writing is to consider whether the who’s/whose you wish to use can be replaced by who is or who has. If it can, then you need “who is”, if not you will need “whose”.
Who and Whom.
How to correctly use who and whom seems to cause problems for some IELTS candidates but this can be easily corrected.
Who is a subject pronoun and should be used to replace the subject of the verb.
Whom is an object pronoun and should be used either to replace the object of a verb or before a preposition.
A simple test is to see whether you can replace the who/whom with a subject pronoun (I or he) or an object pronoun (me or him).
Whom did you visit? (Did you visit him?)
I cannot see who is in the office. (He is in the office.)
To whom it may concern. (To him…)
Who has lost their football? (He has lost his football.)
It’s and Its.
It’s is a contraction of ‘it has’ or ‘it is’ and is used as follows:
“It’s been a long time since we met,” she murmered. (it has)
“Come on,” she shouted, “it’s a beautiful day!” (it is)
“It is unlikely it’s going to be ready on time.”(it is)
“It’s been available for weeks!” (it has)
Its is the possessive form of it, which means ‘of it’. That it doesn’t use the possessive apostrophe causes confusion. Its, without an apostrophe, is a possessive form, where an apostrophe is usually used.
The jacket was missing its sleeves and pockets.
The picture had lost all of its colour.
Has the vanilla bean imparted its flavour?
New York is famous for its tall buildings.
I hope you have found this post useful.
To your IELTS success,
Pass IELTS Higher