Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Only if you listen to today’s episode will you know how intonation can affect your grammar score in IELTS Speaking.

Today we share the latest installment of our grammar series.

In it, we show you how to use adverbs of condition.

For this grammar form, intonation matters more than the grammar rules!

Adverbs of condition

Use these as part of a complex sentence.

The first part of the sentence is a dependent clause that is a hypothetical.

It is made with a subordinating conjunction such as “if”.

The second part of the clause is what will happen or your commitment.

If something happens, it leads to something else.

Common subordinating conjunctions:

  • Whether or not
  • Even if
  • Unless
  • Only if

Textbooks teach a lot of strict rules about these expressions.

You can waste so much time learning these rules!

It can also mess you up on the test if you’re thinking about all these rules!

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Whether or not” and “even if

Textbooks will give you strict rules about which to use, but natives use them interchangeably!

What matters is intonation.

The stress is very important – you should emphasize the word “not.”

  • Whether or not aliens land, I still have to take the IELTS exam.

This intonation stresses that this part of the phrase is a hypothetical.

Where to use this on the Speaking exam

Use this grammar structure on Speaking Part 1 answers about your personal life.

What do you eat for breakfast?

  • Whether or not I wake up on time, I still always eat breakfast.

This is much more impressive than “I eat breakfast every day.”

For Speaking Part 3 this will also be useful.

  • Whether or not fast food is readily available, obesity will still be a problem.

Only if

This one is a little different because the second part of the sentence depends on the first part.

A Speaking Part 3 question might be:

What happens if young people lack good role models:

  • Only if children see positive examples will they become thoughtful individuals.
  • Children develop selflessness and altruism only if they have positive role models.

Children becoming thoughtful and selfless relies on the other clause in teh sentence, that they see positive examples.

Is higher education too expensive in your country?

  • Only if schooling is affordable is it accessible to all.

Practice Exercises

Answer the following Speaking questions using one of the subordinating conjunctions you learned today.

  1. Do you exercise often?
  2. What is a hobby you would like to spend more time on?
  3. Should people spend more time outdoors?
  4. What would you do if you won the lottery?


Grammar rules for adverbs of condition are a perfect example of why you shouldn’t waste your time studying textbook grammar!

We provide you with simple rules that you can practice to raise your IELTS Grammar score.

This sentence structure using adverbs of condition can be used on both Speaking Part 1 and Speaking Part 3.

It will impress the Examiner and get you the score you need!

Join our 3 Keys IELTS study system for all the strategies you need to get past IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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