How to write about people’s opinions in IELTS discussion essays.
Updated: April 2023
When writing a discussion essay in IELTS writing task 2 you have to state other people’s opinions as well as give your own opinion. Discussion essays also ask for your opinion so it is important to state your view not only in the introduction but also in the main body paragraphs, and then refer to the differing views and re-paraphrase your opinion in the conclusion.
To show other people’s views you will need to use specific phrases which I have outlined in this lesson. You will need to mention others’ views or the whole essay could turn into a problem-solution essay or even an advantage-disadvantage essay. It is all about the way language is used here.
Example task question
The task is asking for 3 things:
1. Write about why some people think banning private vehicles from city centres relieves traffic congestion.
2. Write about why others think that this is not a realistic approach.
3. Give your own opinion on the issue (you can agree with one side here)
In my introduction, I will paraphrase the task (you don’t have to paraphrase every single word either) and give a thesis statement such as:
Some people would argue that the most effective method in dealing with traffic congestion in city centres is for private vehicles to be prohibited, whereas others would say that this approach is unrealistic. Although this might not be practical, I believe that there should be a congestion charge to enter busy cities.
This was 52 words and is long enough for an introduction. The conclusion would rephrase my opinion and refer to the differing views. Conclusions are shorter than introductions so keep it concise.
Your opinion has to be in the introduction, main body paragraphs and restated in the conclusion. Click the blue button below.
A discussion essay can easily turn into a problem-solution essay, or even an advantage-disadvantage essay if you do not use language correctly. You must express why people hold their views in a discussion essay.
Another issue is that some IELTS students write about both sides and why people hold these views but fail to give their own opinion on the issue. If you do this you could end up with a Band 5 or 6.
If the task asks for your opinion you must state it clearly. Remember that you should state your opinion in the introduction main body and conclusion, and you can just agree with one side. Don’t agree with both sides as it will confuse the examiner.
Language for referring to others’ views
Here are some set phrases for expressing other people’s opinions with reasons/more information. Don’t just memorise these sentences, practice how to use these naturally in your writing. Work on your writing style.
If writing a public or general opinion you can include a reason for someone holding that opinion. See some example sentences below. Many of these are in the passive voice and some have dependent and independent clauses.
a) It is a widely held belief that obesity is caused by eating too much fast food. This is because most people think that fast food is high in calories, sugar, and salt.
b) Many people hold the view that women are better teachers than men. They claim that women are more intuitive and better understand the needs of their students.
c) A growing number of people say that University fees are too expensive these days. They feel this way because the cost of going to University has increased sharply over the past 20 years.
d) There is a common belief that finding a job these days is becoming harder. One reason for this view is that the economy is in a downturn at the moment.
e) Some would argue that television is very educational and that there is a lot that can be gained from certain TV shows. Their view is that TV documentaries are very useful for learning new things about society.
Here are some notes for another essay about smartphone addiction, notice how I have taken the main ideas and made sentences expressing other people’s opinions. This is not a body paragraph it is just for practice purposes.
Other people’s opinion: overuse of smartphones – addictive
Explain: smartphone zombies – can’t communicate face to face
Some people would argue that the overuse of smartphones leads to addiction. Their view is that people who use smartphones excessively cannot communicate well face to face anymore. In addition, there has been a growing trend of ‘smartphone zombies’ in recent times due to this dependency on handheld devices.
How would you develop these ideas below and make sentences expressing the public or general opinion?
1. older people/working until age 75
2. prison / not effective
3. global warming / not caused by Co2
4. Ai/people will lose jobs in future
5. Extreme sports / too dangerous / ban them
You can try first then take a look at my ideas… click to show answers.
Any questions? Leave a comment below.