The 100 most useful phrases for IELTS Writing Task 1 tables

Summary: Essential phrases for describing tables in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, with important phrases for the introduction and body of such essays.

This is a short list of vital words and phrases to memorise in order to do well in IELTS Academic Writing Part 1 table tasks. A bigger list of useful language 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 Task 1 table task introductions

Rephrasing the question/ A very brief description of the table

  1. The table gives data/ information/ figures/ statistics on…
  2. The data/ figures/ statistics give information on differences in… (related to … categories of…)
  3. The tables include statistics on changes in…
  4. The two tables list the proportion of…
  5. The tables on the right and on the left compare…
  6. Both tables show percentages of…, but the one of the left presents… whereas the righthand one includes…

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

  1. The columns are labelled with… and the rows (a variety of) different…
  2. There are… columns representing… and… rows which show…
  3. There is a wide variation in the data, ranging from… to…
  4. The data ranges from (a low of)… to (a highpoint of)…
  5. There is a mix of…/ The figures are a mix of…
  6. For the most part…
  7. Most of the figures are between… and…, but…
  8. In general,…
  9. The lefthand column represents… and the others…
  10. The data between… and… is generally…, whereas…
  11. There is a noticeable…
  12. Among all the…, the thing that stands out is…

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

  1. I will describe the first… rows and then turn my attention to the …th to …th ones.
  2. I will look at the past data and then move on to the future.
  3. I will explain the similarities between…, before turning to the differences.
  4. I will examine some of the highest figures, then write about a few of the lower ones.
  5. I will summarise the data related to…, then focus on….
  6. I will explain those two tables in that order/ in turn (in the paragraphs below).

The most useful phrases for the body of IELTS Writing Part One essays

Starting body paragraphs

Starting any body paragraph

  1. According to the table at the top of the page,…
  2. From the information given on the years between… and…, we can see that…
  3. Looking at the three leftmost columns, it is obvious that…
  4. If we look at the table giving data on…,…

Starting the second (or third) body paragraph

  1. Turning (our attention) to the remaining figures,…
  2. Moving on to the other four columns,…
  3. In (complete) contrast to the four rows described above, in the rest…
  4. Compared to the table/ column(s)/ row(s)/ topic(s)/ time period(s) described above,…
  5. In common with the table/ column(s)/ row(s)/ topic(s)/ time period(s) described above,…
  6. The other table/ two rows/ … columns/ time period(s)/ subject(s)…
  7. The second table/ time period/ subject/ country…
  8. The lower table/ half of the table…
  9. The righthand table/ half of the table/ time period…
  10. The line(s) representing… …

Describing positions

  1. The first/ second/ third/ …th row from the top/ bottom…
  2. The first/ second/ third/ …th column from the left/ right…
  3. The top/ bottom row…
  4. The rightmost/ leftmost/ righthand/ lefthand column…
  5. In the column to the left/ right of that, we can see…
  6. In the row above/ below that one, the data is…
  7. (Around/ More or less in) the middle of the table,…
  8. The table to the right of that one…
  9. The table of figures below that one…
  10. In the bottom right/ bottom left/ top left/ top right cell,…
  11. Between those two rows/ columns/ cells, there is…

Describing times

  1. At the beginning of the times shown in the table,…
  2. At the end of the period given,…
  3. Between… and… there is a change in…
  4. In the following day/ week/ month/…,…
  5. Over the next two/ three/ four/… days/ weeks/ months/…,…
  6. In the next day/ month/ period given/…,…
  7. (Just/ Slightly) after that
  8. This lasts (on and off) for…
  9. This continues (in a similar vein) until…
  10. By the time we reach…, we can see…
  11. Meanwhile, if we look at…, we can see a very different…
  12. At the same time (in…),…

Giving vague data and times

  1. about/ approximately/ around/ more or less/ roughly
  2. (just) under/ (just) below/ nearly/ almost/ (slightly) lower than/ (a little) less than
  3. above/ (just) over/ (slightly) more than
  4. very nearly/ a tiny bit under/ virtually

Giving exact data and times

  1. to be precise
  2. (…)

The most useful phrases for comparing the figures/ columns/ rows/ tables

Useful phrases for explaining similarities between the figures/ columns/ rows/ tables

  1. Like…,…
  2. In common with…,…
  3. Similarly,…
  4. (more or less/ almost/ nearly/ virtually/ practically) identical/ the same
  5. (extremely/ very/ fairly) similar
  6. (exactly/ just/ almost/ nearly/ two thirds/ half/ a quarter) as… as…
  7. … have (two/ several/ some) things in common, including…

Useful phrases for explaining differences between the figures/ columns/ rows/ tables

  1. Unlike…,…
  2. Compared to…,…
  3. In (complete) contrast (to…),…
  4. …, while/ whereas…
  5. This contrasts with…
  6. (far/ much/ a great deal/ substantially/ considerably/ quite a lot/ somewhat/ slightly/ a bit/ a little/ a tiny bit) higher/ bigger (than…)
  7. (far/ much/ a great deal/ substantially/ considerably/ quite a lot/ somewhat/ slightly/ a bit/ a little/ a tiny bit) lower/ smaller (than…)
  8. (more or less/ more than/ almost/ virtually) double/ triple/ four times/ … times…
  9. not (nearly/ quite) as high as…/ as much as…/ as great as…
  10. (approximately) half/ a third/ a quarter/ a fifth/ a… of…
  11. (around) two thirds/ three quarters/ … …s (the level) of…
  12. one and half times/ twice/ three times/ …. times
  13. The biggest/ main difference between… and… is…
  14. A major difference…
  15. The most obvious difference/ The clearest difference…
  16. (slightly/ very/ almost completely/ totally) different

(Only very simple language is included here to avoid wasting time analysing the data, but see the similar list on line graphs for more of this kind of language.)

  1. (more or less/ more than) double/ triple/ quadruple
  2. (approximately/ almost/ more than) halve
  3. lose half/ a third/ a quarter/ a… (of…)
  4. increase/ grow/ go up
  5. decrease/ decline/ drop/ fall/ go down
  6. There is a (roughly/ greater than/ over) fourfold/ fivefold/ …fold increase/ decrease in…
  7. There is then a (very) large/ substantial/ slight increase/ decrease in…
  8. remain (more or less) stable/ stay (approximately) the same/ not change much
  9. change/ vary/ move
  10. It reaches (a high of)…

 

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