The 100 most useful phrases for IELTS Writing Task 1 map tasks

Summary: Essential phrases for describing maps in IELTS Academic Writing, with vital phrases for the introduction and body of essays describing places and changes in places.

This is a short list of the most important phrases to memorise in order to do well with map tasks in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. Bigger lists of useful phrases and over 300 pages of materials to give input on, practice and give feedback on all kinds of IELTS Academic Writing tasks are available at https://www.usingenglish.com/e-books/ielts-writing/

 

The most useful phrases for IELTS Writing map task introductions

Rephrasing the question/ A very brief description of the map(s) given

  1. The map shows three proposed locations for…
  2. The two maps (given) represent…
  3. The three maps present information on the transformation of…
  4. The maps (on the right and left) illustrate the condition of… before and after… (respectively).
  5. The map at the top of the page gives information on…, while the one at the bottom shows…
  6. The drawing gives a bird’s eye view of…

 

(Optional) summary sentence/ description of what you notice straightaway

  1. Great changes are evident if we look…
  2. The features on the map can be divided into two categories,… and…
  3. The maps include both… and…
  4. There are both similarities and differences between…
  5. The two main categories of change are… and…
  6. There is a noticeable lack of…
  7. There is a mix of natural and manmade…
  8. The most noticeable feature is the contrast between the western…

 

Sentence describing the structure of/ organisation of/ plan for your essay (body)

  1. I will describe the major features and then turn my attention to the relationships between them.
  2. I will list the main buildings, then explain the other infrastructure.
  3. I will look at the facilities and then move on to the transport connections between them.
  4. I will write about location A, then turn to the other two possible venues.
  5. I will explain the similarities between the two locations, before turning to the differences.
  6. I will summarise the features of the place at present, then focus on the planned changes.
  7. I will start with a description of the left of the map, and then explain what can be seen on the righthand side.
  8. After describing the top half of the map, I will write about the main features of the rest.
  9. I will explain those two things in that order/ in turn (in the paragraphs below).

 

The most useful phrases for the body of IELTS map task essays

Starting body paragraphs phrases

Starting any body paragraph phrases

  1. According to the information on the map,…
  2. From the information given on the top map,…
  3. Looking at the middle part on the map,…

 

Starting the second (or third) body paragraph phrases

  1. Turning (our attention) to the… features,…
  2. Moving on to differences between the two maps,…
  3. In (complete) contrast to the situation in…, on the other map(s) it can be seen that…
  4. The other map gives information on…
  5. The lower half of the map shows…
  6. As for more recent situation,…

 

Verbs to talk about location (replacing “It is in…” with more complex language)

  1. is located…
  2. is situated…
  3. lies…
  4. surrounds/ is surrounded by…
  5. There is a…
  6. … can be seen (…)
  7. links/ connects/ joins
  8. crosses/ intersects…
  9. are distributed…
  10. contains…

 

Phrases for describing positions and distances

  1. in the bottom right/ bottom left/ top left/ top right corner/ part (of…)
  2. in/ near to the middle/ the centre (of the map/ of the town/ of…)
  3. in the north/ northeast/ east/ southeast/ southwest/ west/ northwest/ north-northwest
  4. at/ towards the top/ the bottom (of the illustration)
  5. in the bottom half/ top half (of the area illustrated)
  6. on the right-hand/ left-hand side (of the area we can see on the map)
  7. (right) (in) between
  8. (fairly/ extremely) near to/ (comparatively/ very) close to/ in the vicinity of

 

Phrases for describing directions

  1. (to the) north/ northeast/ east/ southeast/ southwest/ west/ northwest/ north-northwest
  2. from east to west/ from… to...
  3. diagonally/ vertically/ horizontally (across the map)

 

Phrases to talk about how places change/ are changed

  1. construct/ build/ build up
  2. replace/ be replaced by
  3. expand/ grow
  4. be placed
  5. (re)develop the former…
  6. … will/ is expected to/ predicted to/ projected to/ forecast to…

 

Phrases for comparing and contrasting places

Explaining similarities between places

  1. … both…
  2. Like…,…
  3. In common with…,…

 

Explaining differences between places

  1. …, while/ whereas/ but…
  2. In (complete) contrast,…
  3. Unlike…,…
  4. The biggest/ main difference between… and… is…

 

Giving vague positions, sizes, distances, etc

  1. On about/ approximately/ around/ more or less/ roughly half of the land surface,…
  2. A large amount of land…
  3. A small number of buildings…
  4. A substantial proportion of the surface area of the island…
  5. A considerable number of the trees…
  6. The (vast) majority of the facilities…

 

Giving exact positions, sizes, distances, etc

  1. There are a range of transport connections, namely…

 

Parts of a town

  1. suburb(s)
  2. outskirts
  3. town centre/ city centre/ downtown
  4. pedestrianised area/ traffic-free zone
  5. surrounding area
  6. reclaimed land
  7. outlying areas
  8. residential area

 

Places in towns (kinds of building, etc)

  1. accommodation/ accommodations/ housing/ residential building
  2. block of flats/ apartment building/ condo/ condominium
  3. (train/ railway) station
  4. shopping centre/ (shopping) mall
  5. car park/ parking lot

 

Types of infrastructure (roads, etc)

  1. (cobbled/ shopping) street
  2. highway/ motorway/ freeway/ expressway
  3. intersection/ junction/ crossroads/ T-junction
  4. rail tracks
  5. bypass

 

Places connected to water

  1. island
  2. bay/ (natural) harbour
  3. coast/ coastline/ seaside/ beach
  4. inland
  5. jetty/ pier/ wharf
  6. waterfront
  7. river/ stream/ (manmade) canal

 

Natural places/ Natural features/ Parts of the countryside

  1. field/ farm/ meadow
  2. forest/ wood/ woodland

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