IELTS Map Vocabulary

IELTS Map Vocabulary (Writing Task 1): A Detailed Breakdown

Mastering map vocabulary is crucial for acing the IELTS Writing Task 1. IELTS Map Vocabulary is a topic that can help you describe changes and features of a location using a map or a plan. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown categorized for your understanding:

General Map Features:

  1. Describing Location:
  • Cardinal Points: North, South, East, West, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest.
  • Location: North/south/east/west, centre, corner, edge, periphery, adjacent to, opposite, nearby, surrounding, vicinity.
  • Relative Positions: Adjacent to, Opposite, Nearby, In the center, To the left/right, On the corner, Behind, In front of.
  • Movement: Connect, link, join, separate, divide, run through, parallel to, perpendicular to, lead to, access to.
  • Size & Shape: Large, small, narrow, wide, long, short, curved, straight, circular, rectangular, square.
  • Distance: Close to, far from, within a short distance, in proximity, at a considerable distance, within walking distance.
  • Prepositional phrases: In the center, to the north of, on the outskirts, close to, bordering
  1. Specific Features:
  • Landforms: Hill, mountain, valley, plain, river, lake, coast, beach, island, desert.
  • Buildings & Structures: House, apartment, office, factory, school, hospital, church, park, stadium, bridge, tunnel, railway, road, industrial zone, countryside. 
  • Man-made Features: Forest, farm, park, garden, parking lot, playground, sports field, swimming pool.
  • Transportation: Road, highway, street, lane, railway, train station, bus stop, airport, harbour, ferry terminal.
  • Roads & Paths: Highway, Main road, Street, Path, Trail, Lane, Junction, Roundabout.
  • Other Features: Stadium, Airport, Harbor, Beach, Railway line, Power lines, Trees.
  1. Describing Features:
  • Size and shape: Large, small, narrow, wide, circular, square, irregular
  • Distance: Close, far, walking distance, within a short distance
  • Accessibility: Connected to, accessible by, isolated, easily reached
  • Appearance: Modern, old, bustling, peaceful, scenic, polluted.
  1. Describing Changes:


  • Development: Build, construct, develop, extend, expand, renovate, modernize.
  • Demolition: Demolish, knock down, dismantle, clear, abandon.
  • Movement: Shift, relocate, move, replace, redirect, divert.


  • New, Old, Modern, Traditional, Large, Small, Busy, Quiet, Developed, Undeveloped.


  • In the past, Over time, Recently, In the future, Since then, As a result.
  1. Nouns & Phrases for Describing Areas:
  • Housing: Residential area, suburb, neighbourhood, housing estate, apartment block, terrace houses.
  • Commercial: Shopping centre, business district, market, retail park, office block.
  • Industrial: Industrial estate, factory, warehouse, power station.
  • Recreational: Park, garden, sports field, leisure centre, beach, forest.
  1. Linking Words & Phrases:
  • Compare & Contrast: Similarly, on the other hand, in contrast, although, despite, while.
  • Cause & Effect: As a result, therefore, consequently, hence, leading to.
  • Addition: Furthermore, moreover, in addition, besides, also.
  • Example: For instance, such as, for example, to illustrate.
  • Similarities: Both, Similarly, Likewise, In the same way.
  • Differences: However, On the other hand, In contrast, Unlike, Whereas.
  • Emphasizing Differences: Significantly different, A striking contrast, A noticeable difference
  1. Formal Language:
  • Nouns: Location, Feature, Area, Region, Vicinity, Proximity.
  • Verbs: Depict, Represent, Illustrate, Indicate, Show, Highlight.
  • Adjectives: Prominent, Notable, Significant, Distinctive, Striking, Conspicuous.
  • Phrases: As can be seen, It is evident that, The map clearly shows, It is worth noting that.
  1. Additional Vocabulary:
  • Grid plan: A layout of streets in a square pattern
  • Pedestrian: A person walking, not driving
  • Footpath/Sidewalk: A path for pedestrians alongside a road
  • Scale: The relationship between the map and the real world
  • Legend: A key that explains the symbols used on the map
Bonus Tips:
  • Variety: Use a range of words to avoid repetition and show your vocabulary range.
  • Accuracy: Choose words that accurately describe the features and changes on the map.
  • Focus on key features and their relationships.
  • Collocation: Use words that naturally go together, like “bustling town center” or “peaceful countryside.”
  • Use precise prepositions to indicate location and direction.
  • Maintain a formal tone and avoid contractions.
  • Use specific vocabulary for specific features (e.g., “winding river” instead of just “river”).
  • Use transition words and phrases to connect ideas and create a logical flow.
  • Proofread carefully for grammar and spelling errors.

Practice makes perfect! Use these categories and tips to analyze practice maps and build your IELTS map vocabulary confidence. Remember, the key is to be specific, descriptive, and accurate in your writing.

We hope this detailed breakdown helps! Feel free to ask if you have any further questions about specific vocabulary or map features.

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