Aren’t prepositions a real pain when it comes to learning English? Students always ask when can I use ‘in’, when can I use ‘on’, and when can I use ‘over’ and ‘under’. Preposition becomes very important when it comes to IELTS writing; especially in task one for describing trends.
Using preposition can be very difficult for students, so the best way to learn and practice these is to compile a list of what each preposition is used for, and practice filling-in the blank exercises. For example, use ‘in’ along with verbs like ‘increase’ and ‘decrease’, and use ‘at’ for time (e.g. at eight o’clock). Also, learn prepositional phrases such as preposition after verbs, adjectives, or nouns. This will be a lot easier for you to remember which preposition to use in a given sentence. For example, the pattern ‘verb + with’, you can use a number of verbs including ‘be’, ‘deal’, ‘go out’, ‘play’, and ‘stay’.
‘Grammar for IELTS’ by Diana Hopkin & Pauline Cullen has a good section on prepositions. You can go through these exercises in the book, and then review them on a regular basis. ‘Check your vocabulary for IELTS’ by Rawdon Wyatt also has a few units on prepositions. Once you become familiar with prepositions, you can start making sentences with the correct prepositions for any task one writing practice.
Another important area of grammar for IELTS preparation is the different ways of linking ideas together. We can do this with conjunctions (e.g. but, because), or adverbials (e.g. also, besides, furthermore, in addition, likewise etc.). ‘Grammar for IELTS’ has a very good chapter on the various linking expressions for IELTS writing. It’s also important to bear in mind that some expressions are more common in speaking (informal) contexts than in writing (formal, academic) contexts. For example, ‘anyway’ is less common in writing whereas ‘thus’ is a frequently used linker. Aim for the more formal expressions for any of your IELTS writing.
Lastly, be patient. Building your grammar skills takes time, and bear in mind that it’s ok for you to make mistakes as you learn. Over time, you’d be amazed at how much you’ve improved when it comes to writing with correct grammar in English.