When was the first/last time you used a computer?
When was the last time you went on holiday?
When was the last time visitors came to your house?
Language step 1 Prepositions and Adverbs ofTime
Let’s look at how the two IELTS candidates, Alice and David, use prepositions and
adverbs of time.
Alice The last time I went on holiday was about three years ago…in July 2008…
David The last time visitors came to my house was just last week
When talking about something that happened in the past, you need to use prepositions
and adverbs of time to say when it happened.
Look at the following prepositions and adverbs of time, and how they are used:
around (months, occasions, festivals, special days)
…around my 10th birthday…
last (weeks, weekends, months, years, festivals)
in (months, seasons, years)
during (months, seasons, long festivals)
during the Tet holiday…
…during the spring…
on (days, special days)
the 5th of November 2005…
…on my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary…
You should also master using the following useful expressions:
about + time period + ago
I last played a computer game about two years ago.
They visited the Summer Palace about three days ago.
the last/first time I + past verb + was
the last time I went swimming was a few hours ago.
The first time I ate insects was in the summer of 2007.
Language step 2 The Past Simple
Let’s look at how the two IELTS candidates, Alice and David, use the past simple tense.
Alice The last time I went on holiday was about three years ago…in July 2008. , My
family and I went to Sa Pa for two weeks during the .summer holiday…my family
and I drove out to the mountains there and trekked in the Fansipan… .
David The last time visitors came to my house was just last week. It was my wife’s birthday, and so I secretly arranged for a few close friends to come over for dinner and
drinks. Although it was difficult to keep my wife from finding outfit was quite
exciting in a way and certainly a bit of a challenge! In the end, everything went to
plan and we all bad a great time- itwas definitely a really enjoyable evening. – 1
Do not overlook the usage of past simple tense as many students lose their marks
because of basic tense errors.
A lot of students, especially when they are nervous in speaking tests, forget to get their
past tenses right, especially for irregular verbs, The only way to get it right is to practise.
Language step 3 Adjectives of Experience
Let’s take a look at how the two IELTS candidates, Alice and David, use adjectives of
Sa Pa is an intriguing place to visit because of the Dao minority culture
David …Although it was difficult to keep my wife from finding out, it was quite exciting
in a way and certainly a bit of a challenge! In the end, everything went to plan and
we all had a great time-it was definitely a really enjoyable evening.
Alice •• •••
After saying when you first /last did X, and using prepositions and adverbs of time and
past simple verbs correctly, you should add a few details to describe what the activity was
Here are some useful adjectives of experience:
difficult, challenging- for things you learned to do that were not easy but you enjoyed
exciting, thrilling,exhilarating,stimulating, enjoyable-for things that you really enjoyed
and that were a lot of fun as well as being interesting
fascinating, intriguing, surprising-for things or experiences that were new and you felt
very curious about them before/while doing them
depressing, upsetting, unpleasant-for things that made you feel sad, very uncomfortable
embarrassing, humiliating- for things that made you feel very uncomfortable because
other people were watching or because you felt silly
irritating, annoying, frustrating-for things that you did not enjoy because you thought
they were stupid, a waste of time or far too difficult
Look at some examples of these words in context:
The party I attended was really exciting.I am not used to going to parties with people from
lots of different countries, so it was fascinating to see how everyone behaved. It was surprising
to see so many people having different conversations at the same time!
The last time I went on holiday was really depressing,if I am honest. It rained the whole
time and my mother got sick. It was upsetting andfrustrating because I don’t have much time
off work and rarely get holidays.
I used a computer for the first time when I was in middle school. I found it really embarrassing because my classmates all knew how to use one but I didn’t!
Notice that Alice and David don’t just say simple sentences such as Ifound itfun. In the
above examples, the candidates use adjectives of experience to describe their experiences
in a more interesting way and explain why the experiences felt like that.