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IELTS maps vocabulary

This article gives useful tips for IELTS map vocabulary and sentence structures for both listening map labelling and writing task 1 academic paper. IELTS listening map labelling is common in Section Two of the test, though you may get a map in any of the sections.

Useful Map Language

Common Language of Location

There can be various phrases to explain where things are, but below are listed some of the most common you’ll need for IELTS listening map labelling or diagram labelling.

Prepositions and adverbs

  • above/below
  • across the road
  • at the top/at the bottom
  • before you get to
  • behind
  • beside
  • clockwise/anti-clockwise
  • directly = straight
  • in between
  • in the middle of = in the centre of
  • inside/outside
  • just beyond = a little beyond = just past
  • left-hand side/right-hand side
  • next to = alongside = adjoining = joined with
  • north east, south east, north west, south west
  • North/South/East/West
  • To the north / to the south / to the east / to the west
  • in the southwest/in the northeast
  • slightly west of
  • on the left/on the right/on the far side
  • opposite
  • through
  • in front of = onward = forward = on ahead = ahead
  • to the left of/to the right of
  • underground = subterranean
  • upstairs/downstairs


  • start by
  • go up / go down
  • cross = pass over = cut across
  • run through = cross = pass through = go through
  • is located = is situated = lies = is = there is


  • path = way
  • area = field = zone
  • roundabout
  • site = place = location
  • housing area = residential area = sleeping area
  • entrance = doorway
  • crossroad = intersection=junction
  • edge = boundary = end = fringe

Paraphrases for Maps

Be careful with paraphrases. Most words in the key do not need to be paraphrased.

  • town center = city center / center of the town (a town is not a city, don’t try to paraphrase the word town)
  • road = street (road and street are different)


  • X is located in the north east of the town.
  • X is located to the north east of Y, which has a population of 60,000.
  • The railway (main road) runs through / crosses / passes through /goes through Y.
  • A is located in the town center which has a railway running through it from north to south.
  • B is situated in the north east of the town just outside the housing area.

If you don’t understand any of these, please look them up and practice using them.

Read more about strategy and tips for IELTS Listening Map Labelling here.

Instagram новая иконка get the best advice, follow Instagram blog @english.advice

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