IELTS Vocabulary: Adverbial phrases

IELTS speakingComment adverbials and set phrases for a higher speaking score.

In the IELTS speaking exam you will be judged on the range and accuracy of your vocabulary, so having a wide range of expressions obviously helps your score.

Comment adverbials are a good way to show emphasis that something is surprising, true, disappointing, coincidental, unbelievable, fortunate or unfortunate. These are mainly used in speaking. However, in IELTS writing they can sometimes come across as being informal.


Emphasising something that is surprising or a coincidence.

Much to my surprise  (surprising)

Funnily enough  (coincidental)

Amazingly enough  (surprising)

Let’s see how they fit into a sentence.

  1. Much to my surprise, I got Band 8 in the IELTS speaking exam. I was only expecting a Band 7.

  2. Much to my surprise, it stopped raining as soon as I walked out the door.

  3. Funnily enough, I was just thinking about Bob when the phone rang and it was him.

  4. Funnily enough, my birthday is on the same day as yours.

  5. Amazingly enough, over 20 people came to the party when I was only anticipating a handful.

  6. Amazingly enough, the cat managed to run across the highway without getting hit by a car.


Emphasising what you are saying is true or a strong opinion

(These types of sentence can have a negative feel)

To be perfectly honest

To tell the truth

Quite frankly

Let’s see how they fit into a sentence.

  1. To tell the truth, I don’t think I can do this job anymore. I reckon it’s time to quit.

  2. To tell the truth, I didn’t expect the bill to be so expensive, it cost me $60 for lunch.

  3. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why she got so angry with John. He didn’t do anything to upset her.

  4. To be perfectly honest, I can’t stand cities because they are always so noisy and crowded.

  5. Quite frankly, the Government is completely incompetent and they have no idea what they are doing.


Emphasising something unfortunate or fortunate

To make matters worse  (unfortunate)

It’s a good job  (fortunate)

Luckily enough  (fortunate)

Unluckily  (unfortunate)

Thank goodness  (fortunate)

I’m glad to say  (fortunate)

Fortunately  (fortunate)

Let’s see how they fit into a sentence. (notice some of them go in the middle of the sentence)

  1. He was 15 minutes late for the job interview, and to make matters worse, he hadn’t prepared for the interviewers questions.

  2. It’s a good job I had a spare key otherwise I would have been locked out all day.

  3. My phone battery died while I was on the train, but luckily enough, there was a socket near the seat so I could recharge it.

  4. Unluckily my iPhone broke yesterday so I couldn’t call you.

  5. James dropped his wallet on the street recently, thank goodness someone with honesty picked it up and handed it in to the police station.

  6. I’m glad to say that I got band 7 in writing and I can now go on to study in Australia.

  7. Fortunately, I got to the airport in time and caught my flight despite the heavy traffic on the way.


Expressing that you are hoping for something positive to happen

All being well

If all goes well

Hopefully

Fingers crossed  (idiomatic phrase)

Touch wood  (idiomatic phrase)

Let’s see how they fit into a sentence. (they can go at the start or end of the sentence)

  1. All being well, I hope to get a high IELTS score and study in Canada by next spring.

  2. She will be out of hospital next Saturday, if all goes well.

  3. Hopefully there’s no traffic today as I’m running a little late.

  4. Fingers crossed I reckon I can get a Band 7 in IELTS writing this time.

  5. I haven’t had the flu or a cold in a long time, touch wood.


Expressing disbelief or shock

Unbelievably

Incredibly

Astonishingly

Remarkably

Let’s see how they fit into a sentence. 

  1. Unbelievably, John crashed his car into a tree and walked away uninjured.

  2. My first week in Tokyo was incredibly lonely.

  3. Astonishingly, he was able to play guitar and the drums at the same time !

  4. It has been remarkably warm today considering that it’s November.


Exercise

Which comment adverbials and set phrases fit into these sentences? (there is more than one answer)

  1. _____________, I think I can pass the speaking test and get a good score.

  2. _____________, Jane survived the terrible crash with no injuries.

  3. _____________, the weather should be fine for the picnic tomorrow.

  4. _____________ that you reminded me the meeting was at 2pm otherwise I would have missed it.

  5. _____________ I had some money saved to pay for the hospital treatment.

  6. _____________, I don’t like his attitude. I find him very arrogant.

  7. _____________, I thought Bob was in his 40’s. He certainly doesn’t look 55 !

  8. _____________, I was just about to call you, that is a coincidence.

  9. _____________, Robert was very good at Karaoke. I had no idea he could sing that well.

  10. Susan forgot all about her mothers birthday, and _______________, she didn’t even get her a present.

Click below to see possible answers, note that there are other phrases that could be used.

  1. Fingers crossed, I think I can pass the speaking test and get a good score.

  2. Astonishingly, Jane survived the terrible crash with no injuries.

  3. All being well, the weather should be fine for the picnic tomorrow.

  4. It’s a good job that you reminded me the meeting was at 2pm otherwise I would have missed it.

  5. Thank goodness I had some money saved to pay for the hospital treatment.

  6. Quite frankly, I don’t like his attitude. I find him very arrogant.

  7. To tell the truth, I thought Bob was in his 40’s. He certainly doesn’t look 55 !

  8. Funnily enough, I was just about to call you, that is a coincidence.

  9. Much to my surprise, Robert was very good at Karaoke. I had no idea he could sing that well.

  10. Susan forgot all about her mothers birthday, and to make matters worse, she didn’t even get her a present.


Any questions? Leave a comment below.

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