Today we answer a listener question about words used in Indian English.

These are phrases and expressions that are not used in English-speaking countries.

Listen in to hear why you should NOT use these on IELTS!

This question came from our IELTS Energy TV YouTube channel.

Check it out if you haven’t!

The short answer is no, you should not use words that are unfamiliar in English-speaking countries.

The Examiner might think you are making a mistake!

Today’s question

There are many words which are only used in Indian English.

British speakers don’t use these.

Can I use such words in IELTS or should I use only those words which are used in English-speaking countries?

When it comes to American or British slang, the Examiner will be familiar with it.

However, if it’s words that aren’t used by native English speakers, that is different.

The Examiner may not understand what you mean and will assume it’s an error.

This can decrease your vocabulary score.

Stick to slang used in English-speaking countries.

#1: Alliance

In Indian English, marriage is called an ‘alliance.’

Alliance is a word in English.

It doesn’t mean marriage.

  • alliance: a bond between friends or partners
  • ally: a friend that assists you

Because this word exists in English but does not mean marriage, don’t use it this way on IELTS.

#2: Half sleeves

A shirt that has a shortened sleeve is referred to with the words ‘half sleeves’ in Indian English.

We do not use this phrase in English.

Instead we say ‘short sleeves.’

For a shirt that has longer sleeves, we’ll say ‘three quarter length sleeves.’

If you say ‘half sleeves,’ the Examiner will assume you don’t know the correct word.

#3: Bus stand

In Indian English, ‘bus stand’ refers to the place a bus stops to pick up people.

We do not refer to it in this way in the United States.

Instead, we say ‘bus stop.’

  • Bus stop: A bench or area where a bus picks up passengers

Don’t make this mistake on IELTS!

The Examiner may understand what you mean, but this can still decrease your vocabulary score.

#4: Trial room

Often, when you are considering purchasing clothing, you want to try it on.

You need to see if it fits!

In Indian English, they call it a ‘trial room.’

Instead, we call it a ‘fitting room.’

  • Fitting room: a room used for trying on clothing

The first thing a native will think of when they hear ‘trial room’ is a courtroom where a trial takes place.

Strategies Created By a Former Examiner

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed!

#5: Sir and ma’am

In Indian English, ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’ are used as a title, such as ‘Ma’am Jessica’ or ‘Sir Thomas.’

We do not use these words this way in English-speaking countries.

Instead, we would use ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’

The words ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ can replace a name if you don’t know it.

  • Excuse me, sir, can I ask you where this bus goes?
  • Ma’am, you dropped your credit card.

#6: Cousin brother

In English, we refer to the children of our aunts and uncles as cousins.

In Indian English, they often say ‘cousin brother’ instead.

This could be really confusing to the Examiner!

Instead, just say ‘cousin.’

There may be titles specific to your culture or religion that you are used to using.

Remember to keep in mind that the Examiner may not be familiar with these.

Avoid using anything that might make the Examiner think you have made a mistake.

#7: Mother promise

In English, if we want to emphasize that we mean it when we make a promise, there are options:

  • I pinky promise!

Often, this is accompanies by linking pinky fingers, which is the fifth finger on your hand.

This means you really mean what you are promising!

  • I swear!

Swearing also means promising, as you will hear someone ‘swear an oath.’

In Indian English, to emphasize sincerity in this way, they might say, “Mother promise.”

We don’t use this phrase in English-speaking countries, so don’t use it on IELTS!

#8: Mention not

In India, when saying ‘you’re welcome’ in English, a speaker might say ‘mention not.’

This has the same meaning as, ‘Don’t mention it.’

There are options for this in English.

  • Don’t mention it.
  • No problem.
  • No worries.
  • No biggie.
  • You’re welcome.

However, don’t use, ‘mention not,’ as this will likely be unfamiliar to the Examiner.


When it comes to English spoken in other countries, err on the side of caution!

Remember that the most important thing is whether the Examiner thinks you’re using the correct words.

They may understand what you mean.

However, because the words aren’t used in English, your vocabulary score can go down.

With these tips, you’ll be able to avoid making this mistake on test day!

For all the strategies you need, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X