Key Grammar Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Our last key grammar lesson was Singular and Plural Nouns. Now we will look at Verb Substitution.
​You can use substitution to make your writing more cohesive. This will improve your band score for Coherence and Cohesion.

Read the two sentences below. The sentences are similar but different.
  1. Many people today are having children later in life or not doing so at all.
  2. Many people today are having children later in life or not having children at all.
​Which sentence is better? 

​Sentence 1 is a better sentence. Rather than repeating the verb phrase having children, the phrase doing so is substituted.

Read the two sentences below. Again, the sentences are similar but different.
  1. When I quote others, I quote in order to express my own ideas more clearly.
  2. When I quote others, I do so in order to express my own ideas more clearly.
​Which sentence is better? 

Sentence 2 is a better sentence. To avoid repeating the verb phrase quote others, we use the verb phrase do so instead.

Verb Substitution Rule  
  • When substituting a verb, the auxiliary do is used.
  • The correct form of do must be used. This is what you are likely to make errors with. Think about the tense of the sentence that you are writing.
  • Often do is used with so.

Common Phrases

  • In order to do so – to is always followed by an infinitive
  • By doing so – by is always followed by an ing-form

​Practice Exercise

​Choose the correct option to complete each sentence. 

1. Many people have been asking why the team have been playing so poorly this season, but the manager has offered no good reason why they have been .
2. The government must pay for reconstruction after a disaster, but in order to they must increase taxes.
3. During the test, I was asked why I was talking. I replied that I wasn’t .
4. The government are trying to appeal to young voters, however, by they risk alienating older voters.
5. When accused of following his ex-wife, he claimed he because he still loved her.
6. Many people try and memorise lists of words, however I don’t think it is much help unless you know the word in context.
7. A good writer summarises his main points in the conclusion paragraph. You should in order to remind the reader of your main points.
8. Many people have refused to vote in recent elections. They may because they feel that none of the parties represent their views.
9. Many nurses are coming to live and work in the UK from foreign countries. They are because the UK requires more medical staff than it currently has.
10. Many people went to the demonstration in the center of the city. They because they disagreed with government policy and they wanted their voices to be heard.
11. Many older people have moved to coastal towns from the major cities. They as they want to enjoy their retirement in quiet towns by the sea.
12. Reading is a great way to improve your vocabulary. will help you achieve a high score in the IELTS test.

We hope this lesson and task has been useful for you. Try it out when speaking and writing to help you remember and use verb substitution with confidence!

Now it’s time to start our Gerund or Infinitive Series.