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

Today you’ll learn vocabulary for impartiality.

We’ll discuss how to talk about people who don’t take a side on important issues.

A student in our Facebook group posted the following question:

I speak Spanish and I don’t know how to translate a few expressions in our language. The first one is a person who doesn’t want to take a strong position on an important topic. It’s like impartial, but with a negative connotation. We call that “ser amarillo,” being yellow, because yellow isn’t a strong color.

impartial: not taking a stand

Where will you use this on IELTS?

In Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2 you are asked about your personal opinions a lot.

Your opinion is never wrong!

If you genuinely agree with both sides, you can express that.

It is, however, important that you express it using high level vocabulary.

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#1 On the fence

fence sitting: not taking a side

fence sitter: a person who won’t take a side

There is negative connotation with this expression, accusing someone of refusing to choose a side.

being on the fence: haven’t yet chosen a side

This expression can also be used without a negative connotation.

  • “I’m kind of on the fence about this.”

This is an excellent phrase for Speaking Part 3.

It gives you a chance to share a reason to support each side.

#2 Play both sides

to play both sides: agreeing with both sides in a manipulative way

You’re manipulating both sides for your benefit, or to gain an advantage.

  • Kids often play both sides, getting what they can from mom and dad.

This is also used to describe politicians.

They tell their constituents what they want to hear in order to get votes from multiple parties.

#3 Expressing neutrality

  • impartial
  • neutral
  • being Switzerland: you’ve considered the issues and don’t want to take a side

There is no negative connotation to this expression.

It indicates that you have thought about the issues, but don’t agree with either side.

If an Examiner hears this native idiom, they will be extremely impressed!


You will definitely be asked your opinion on the IELTS exam!

Today’s native vocabulary and phrases can be used to express impartiality.

Use them with your Speaking Part 3 practice.

For more native phrases and all the strategies to use them on the exam, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS today!

You’ll immediately be admitted into our exclusive Facebook group.

You can then get quick answers to all your IELTS questions!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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