IELTS Cue Card: Describe an occasion when you lost something but got it back

IELTS Cue Card: Describe an occasion when you lost something but got it back


Describe an occasion when you lost something but got it back.
You should say:
  • What you lost
  • How you lost it
  • Where you found it
And how you felt about the experience.

Part 3:
  • Why do people lose their things?
  • What kinds of things do people usually lose?
  • What can people do to find things they’ve lost?
  • What can people do to avoid losing their stuff?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

I’ve lost a few things over the years. Sometimes they’ve found their way back to me, and sometimes they’ve disappeared forever.

I’ve lost my wallet a couple of times, and unfortunately never got it back, but the most stressful was when I lost my phone.

I do everything with phone and without it I feel lost. Whether it’s doing my banking or talking to friends, most of the time I’ll reach for my phone instead of my laptop.

There was one day I was taking a taxi home and had a lot on my mind. I was lost in thought and wasn’t really paying attention when the taxi dropped me off at home. I got out, paid the driver, and didn’t really notice that my phone was laying on the back seat.

The cab drove off and I unlocked the door to my apartment. It took me quite a few minutes to notice that something was missing — my phone of all things.

I flew into a panic because I didn’t know how to contact the driver or even which taxi company it was that had taken me home. I imagined the driver wouldn’t have known who the phone belonged to either.

I had a spark of inspiration and realized I could call it from my laptop. I rang my own number over and over. Maybe another passenger or the driver noticed, but after several attempts the driver answered. I explained what had happened, and asked if they would be kind enough to bring it back to me.

I gave them my address and had some money prepared for when they arrived. I felt relieved and beyond lucky that I was going to get my phone back.

I heard a knock on the door — it was the taxi driver with my phone in his hand. I was smiling ear to ear and offered him some money. He shook his head and refused, but instead wished me a good night as he passed me my phone.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Over the years (idiom)
This phrase is used to describe a period of some, several, or many years.
Example: This town has changed a lot over the years; I hardly recognize it.

Have a lot on my mind (idiom)
If you have a lot on your mind, you’re thinking about a lot of things, and often feel uneasy or stressed.
Example: I have a lot on my mind to do with work right now.

Lost in thought (idiom)
If you’re lost in thought, you’re thinking about something so deeply that you’re not paying attention to what’s going on around you.
Example: She’s gazed off out of the window, lost in thought.

Pay attention (idiom)
To listen to, watch, or consider something or someone very carefully.
Example: I hope you’re paying attention because you’ll be tested later.

Drop something off (phrasal verb)
If you take someone to a place, and you leave them there, you’re said to drop them off. You can also drop off things too, like your luggage at a hotel.
Example: I dropped my friend off at the airport in time for their flight to Seattle.

Of all things (idiom)
A phrase used to show that you’re especially surprised at something because it’s not usual.
Example: After spending his life as a cop, he decided to become a ballet dancer of all things!

Fly into a panic (idiom)
To suddenly become very worried or panicked.
Example: He flew into a panic when he realized he was going to miss his flight.

Would be kind enough (phrase)
If you ask someone if they would be kind enough to do something, you’re asking them in a very polite and formal way.
Example: Would you be kind enough to pass the salt and pepper please?

Smiling from ear to ear (idiom)
If you’re smiling from ear to ear, you look extremely happy and have a broad, enthusiastic smile.
Example: Chris was smiling ear to ear when his bosses praised him during the ceremony.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

Why do some people lose their things?

I think it’s for a variety of reasons.

In many cases it’s just a pure accident. Humans aren’t perfect and we all make mistakes. Leaving something behind is something we all do, whether that’s forgetting to take our keys, or leaving a scarf behind at a friend’s house. I’m sure this has happened to everyone at some point.

On the other hand, there are some people that are really careless and more absent minded than most. I used to have a housemate that was like this, and at least once a week he’d message me to ask if I was home to let him in. No matter what he tried, he just seemed incapable of remembering to take his belongings with him.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

We all make mistakes (phrase)
This phrase is used to tell someone not to worry about something they’ve done wrong, or to express that making mistakes is natural. A common variant is everyone makes mistakes.
Example: Don’t worry about leaving your keys at the bar. We all make mistakes.

At some point (phrase)
If something happens at a time that isn’t specified, it happens at some point.
Example: At some point I decided she was no longer my friend.

On the other hand (idiom)
It’s a phrase used for giving two different opinions about something, and is different from the first thing you mentioned.
Example: My boyfriend likes all kinds of food, but I, on the other hand only like cheeseburgers and tacos.

Absent minded (adjective)
Someone who is absent minded often forgets things or doesn’t pay attention to what is happening near them because they are thinking about other things.
Example: He got a lot more absent minded as he got older.

Incapable (adjective)
If you’re incapable of doing something, you’re unable to do it.
Example: I think she’s incapable of love.

What kinds of things do people usually lose?

All kinds of things. People will often leave behind something they’re not used to carrying. Maybe they don’t live in a climate where it rains a lot. On a wet day they may take an umbrella out with them, but when the rain stops they may leave their umbrella at the restaurant. They won’t be thinking about an umbrella when the weather is dry and it will slip their mind.

It’s really common for people to lose small amounts of money. Maybe they pull their keys out of their pocket, and a low value coin or small banknote is pulled out along with the wallet. This has happened to me, and I didn’t hear the coin fall on the pavement because I had headphones in my ears.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Used to (idiom)
If you’re used to doing something, you’re familiar with it and have done it a lot.
Example: We were used to working really hard.

Slip their mind (idiom)
If you forget to do something, it slips your mind.
Example: I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. It totally slipped my mind.

What can people do to find things they’ve lost?

I think the most obvious step is to retrace where they’ve been. If they can’t find their keys, they can look in the places where they’re likely to have left them. This is a strategy that’s worked for me and probably many other people.

I think another thing is to attach some form of contact information to their property. I have a little tag on my keychain with my phone number on it, so that if for some reason I misplace my keys I have a hope of someone knowing how to contact me to reunite me with my keys.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Retrace (verb)
To return along the same path or route that you have just traveled alone. Often you are said to retrace your footsteps.
Example: When he realized that he had lost his keys, he retraced in his mind where he had been.

Misplace (verb)
To put something in the wrong place and lose it, usually temporarily.
Example: She misplaced her keys so often that her secretary used to carry spare ones for her.

Reunite (verb)
To bring together again. Anything that has been separated or split can be reunited.
Example A: They were reunited after not seeing each other for five years.
Example B: He was reunited with his car after it was stolen.
Example C: The band reunited for one last concert.

What can people do to avoid losing their stuff?

One thing that works really well for me is putting my belongings in the same place every day.

For example, when I come home I always put my keys on the same hook by the door. I don’t just put them anywhere because I might forget where I’ve left them. By putting them in the same place, I never have to go hunting for them when I’m about to leave my apartment.

I think the other thing is getting into the habit of doing a quick check to see if you have all your possessions every time you’re walking out the door. For example, when I’m leaving my apartment, the first thing I do is tap my pockets to see if my keys, wallet, and phone are all there. This has saved me quite a few times from walking away without my keys and wallet.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Get into the habit (phrase)
If you get into the habit of doing something, you begin to do it regularly or often. Usually this phrase is used for positive habits, rather than negative ones.
Example: I got into the habit of working out every day and I feel great.

Tap (verb)
To hit something gently, and often repeatedly.
Example: I could hear him tapping his fingers on the desk.

How long will these questions be valid?

At least until the end of April 2020.
Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won't be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
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English
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United Kingdom
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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
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