Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is the difference between feature, characteristic and aspect?

One of our 3 Keys students, Kim Edawn, asked this question in our Facebook group.

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As a 3 Keys student, he received an answer to his question right away from one of our All Ears English team members.

Our answers are based on Jessica’s 14 years of Examiner experience and our team’s combined 47 years of English teaching experience,

Thus, once you are in our Facebook group, you are guaranteed accurate answers that are easy to understand.

So what is the difference between these 3 words?

Watch the video now!

The many meanings of “Feature

Many words in the English language have a few different meanings.

Feature is one of them!

You have to know the context to know which meaning is being used.

#1: Features: attributes that are distinctive

We talk about physical features for people.

  • large nose
  • long legs

We also describe features that set apart other things such as the landscape.

  • mountains
  • lakes

Use it on Speaking Part 1 or 2 to describe a recent vacation.

“Rolling plains were a feature of the landscape during my vacation last summer.”

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#2: Feature: a newspaper or magazine article or a film

These will be devoted to a topic, typically with some detail.

When discussing information you read recently in the news for Task 2 or Speaking Part 3, you could say:

“A feature in last week’s newspaper shared unemployment statistics.”

If the Speaking Part 2 question asks you to describe a favorite movie, you can say:

“I absolutely loved the feature film Harriet! It shed light on the life of Harriet Tubman.”

#3: Feature: Attribute

These are aspects that are often advertised as particularly attractive.

A popular Part 2 question asks you to describe something you own.

Whatever you choose, you can describe the features!

“My favorite feature of the car I recently purchased is the amount of storage space.”

#4 Feature: Verb

The word feature is also a verb!

One meaning is to give prominence or highlight.

If you are asked to describe your favorite music, you can say:

“Their latest album features a plethora of different musical instruments.”

Featuring is to have something as a characteristic or feature.

If you are asked in Speaking Part 1 about your favorite restaurant or favorite food, you can say:

“My favorite type of restaurant is one that has a menu featuring many options.”


Not only can you use the word feature on Speaking and Writing, but it could come up on Reading or Listening.

Parallels for the noun are characteristic and aspect.

When you are aware of these synonyms, questions on the Listening and Reading exams will be much easier.


Characteristics are features or qualities of people or things that can be used to identify them.

These can be physical.

  • muscular
  • short

They can also be character traits.

  • generosity
  • kindness

It is also used as an adjective meaning distinctive.

“My daughter has a characteristic laugh.”

“This type of rock is characteristic of the region.”


Aspect is used most often as a parallel for different views.

If a Speaking Part 3 question asks what a person considers before relocating or moving to a new city, you could say:

“They must consider all aspects of the decision.”


Multiple meanings for words is one of the main things that makes English such a difficult language to learn.

If you don’t use the correct meaning on IELTS, your Vocabulary score could go down.

Add words to your vocabulary notebook with context, always writing them in sentences.

Use them often and talk to native friends to make sure you’re using the correct meaning.

You can also post them in our Facebook group to get feedback from IELTS experts.

If you’re not in the Facebook group yet, join 3 Keys IELTS today!

You’ll then get quick, accurate answers to all your IELTS questions.

Sign up today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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