Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today you will learn 4 band 9 idioms that will really impress the Examiner.

This is because these are phrases that even natives get wrong sometimes!

These high level phrases will boost your Vocabulary score!

Though natives mess these up, the Examiner knows if you make one of these errors.

They will dock your score if you use these incorrectly, even though natives do as well.

Curb your silliness!

This is a band 9 word, because even many natives don’t use it.

You’ve likely heard the word curb as a noun.

Curb (n.): the edge of the sidewalk next to a street

We also use this as a verb.

Curb (v.): lessen, decrease

You’ll often hear the expression “curb your enthusiasm.”

This is also the title of a U.S. television show you can check out!

#1: For all intents and purposes

This means “essentially” or “basically.”

Natives incorrectly say “for all intensive purposes.”

We hear this often, but you can’t make this mistake on IELTS or your Vocabulary score will go down.

Should everyone recycle?

Yes, of course. However, there may be exceptions, like if you’re camping and there’s only a trash bin available, or if one lives in a place where there are no recycling facilities. Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes, yes, everyone should recycle.

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#2: Could have / Should have / Would have

Natives often incorrectly say “could of,” “should of” or “would of.”

IELTS might use this to trip you up on IELTS Listening!

There’s a fun idiom we use with these 3.

  • Coulda, shoulda, woulda: expressing regret; wishing something had gone differently.

I realize I should’ve been studying more these past few weeks.

However, I couldn’t because I have a job and a family.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda!

End an answer with this expression any time you’re expressing regret.

It’s a very native way to communicate

#3: One and the same

Natives often say “one in the same.”

This is because we say it fast and it sounds the same.

Therefore, natives might write it or say it incorrectly.

  • One and the same: identical, equal

My two friends are so much alike, they’re basically one and the same.

The degree you receive from expensive private schools and affordable state universities are one and the same.

#4: Whet your appetite

Natives think people are saying “wet your appetite,” so they often write it that way.

  • whet your appetite: get excited about something before it happens

In some countries, diners whet their appetite with an aperitif.

I like to whet my appetite for Halloween by watching horror movies all month.


If you learn these idioms and use them correctly, you’ll speak better English than most natives!

This will definitely impress the Examiner, as they will know that even natives often mess these up.

Practice using them so you are confident on test day.

For more strategies that will get you 7 or higher, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS today.

And to find out what score you’d get if you took the exam today, take our free, 2-minute quiz!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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