IELTS Cue Card: Describe something useful you borrowed from someone else

IELTS Cue Card: Describe something useful you borrowed from someone else


Describe something useful you borrowed from someone else.
You should say:
  • What it was
  • When you borrowed it
  • Who you borrowed it from
And explain why you borrowed it.

Part 3:
  • What kinds of things do people borrow from each other?
  • What kinds of things do people not like to lend to others?
  • What do you think about copying an idea from someone else?
  • Is it always necessary to get permission to use something that belongs to someone else?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

A few years ago I received some news that I needed to fly back home. It was going to be a fairly last-minute trip and I knew that the airfare was going to steadily go up the longer I waited.

That day I was at a friend’s house watching a movie as I had a day off. It was in the middle of the movie that I received the text message asking me when I could fly back. I replied that I’d have a look online and would make it back home as soon as possible.

We paused the movie and I started to check for flights on my phone. In fact it wasn’t just the flights, but the train ride from the airport all the way up to the small fishing village where I come from.

There was a lot to research and it was becoming incredibly tedious to do it on my phone. Although I can do most things on it, switching between apps and tabs in my browser was taking too long. In the back of my mind I knew that all the prices were going to be steadily going up as the last remaining seats were booked up.

I usually try to be self-reliant, and rarely borrow things from other people, but I asked if I could borrow my friend’s laptop so I could book the whole trip as quickly as possible. Of course he agreed, and handed me his MacBook. It made light work of the problem and with my credit card out I was able to do my research and book the tickets so much faster than otherwise would have been possible.

I think the only other option would have been to cut the movie short and for me to have taken a tram home, but his willingness to help saved the day.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Last-minute (adjective)
Something that happens or is done at the latest possible opportunity for doing it.
Example: There was a last-minute alteration to the flight.

Day off (noun)
A day when you do not work.
Example: I usually catch up with my housework on my days off.

Tedious (adjective)
Something that’s boring and goes on for too long.
Example: My job is really tedious.

In the back of my mind (idiom)
If something is in the back of your mind you are thinking about it or it is affecting how you behave, perhaps without you realizing it.
Example: The thought that Chris might leave was always in the back of his mind.

Booked up (adjective)
If a hotel, restaurant, theater, or transportation service is booked up there are no more rooms, tables, or seats available because other people have booked them.
Example: All the flights to New York were booked up at Christmas.

Self-reliant (adjective)
You’re self-reliant if you’re able to do things for yourself and not depend on other people.
Example: My mother has always been self-reliant and rarely asks people for help.

Light work (idiom)
If you make light work of something, you do it very quickly and easily. A device or piece of machinery can make light work of something too.
Example: We’ll make light work of this project now you’ve joined the team.

Cut something short (idiom)
If you cut something short you’re ending it unexpectedly or before its planned conclusion.
Example: Nobody was disappointed when the microphone came unplugged, cutting his boring speech short.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

What kinds of things do people borrow from each other?

I think one of the most common things is money. There are some people that always seem to be short of cash and are quick to ask friends and family for a loan.

Personally I do occasionally loan money to friends, but I have to trust that they’ll be able to repay it. In any event, I’ll only ever loan someone a small amount of cash that I’m willing to lose.

When a friend has stayed over, they’ve often asked to borrow things like towels. Often they wouldn’t have enough space in their luggage to pack a towel, or perhaps they were concerned about taking a wet towel home. I’ll always oblige and make sure I have clean towels on hand if a guest is going to be sleeping on my couch. Sometimes they’ll ask to borrow toiletries too if they weren’t able to pack them, or simply forgot something small like their toothpaste.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Short of (idiom)
If you’re short of something, you don’t have enough of it.
Example: I’m a little short of cash right now, so I can’t lend you anything.

Stay over (phrasal verb)
To sleep at someone’s house for a night.
Example: It’s getting late. Why don’t you stay over?

Oblige (verb)
This word means to please someone or help someone, especially by doing something they have asked you to do.
Example: We only went to the party to oblige some old friends who asked us to be there.

On hand (idiom)
If something is on hand it’s ready and available, for example money, resources, etc that can be available for use immediately.
Example: He always kept a supply of firewood on hand for cold nights.

What kinds of things do people not like to lend to others?

I suppose personal items like a toothbrush. Very few people would be comfortable sharing their toothbrush with someone else, even their significant other. Most people would consider it to be really unhygienic and would also be quite grossed out by it even if the toothbrush were thoroughly sterilized.

In the same vein, it’s uncommon for someone to borrow underwear. Unlike a T-shirt or a jacket, underwear is a very intimate item of clothing that is culturally inappropriate to share. Personally I’ve never asked to borrow underwear, and nobody has ever asked to borrow mine either!

I think a lot of people are very reluctant to loan things like their laptop or phone to someone else. Not only are these expensive items that are costly to repair if they’re dropped or damaged, but they also contain a lot of personal data. I think a lot of people would fear that the other person would snoop or otherwise accidentally come across something embarrassing or otherwise just confidential.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Significant other (noun)
A person you have a romantic relationship that has lasted for quite a long time, and is likely to last longer.
Example: She lives with her significant other in London.

Unhygienic (adjective)
Something is unhygienic if it isn’t clean and may cause disease.
Example: The restaurant’s kitchen is really unhygienic and several customers have gotten sick lately.

Gross out (phrasal verb)
If something grosses you out, you think it is very unpleasant or disgusting.
Example: He smells and he’s dirty. He really grosses me out.

Sterilize (verb)
If something is sterilized, it is cleaned completely so that it is free from all germs.
Example: All surgical equipment must be sterilized before use.

In the same vein (idiom)
If something is in the same vein, it is similar to something that has already been mentioned.
Example: Her second novel is a thriller, very much in the same vein as the first.

Reluctant (adjective)
If you’re reluctant to do something, you’re unwilling to do it.
Example: Many parents feel reluctant to talk openly with their children.

Snoop (verb)
To secretly try to get information that someone would not want you to have.
Example: She’s the sort of person that would snoop around your room when you’re not there.

Come across (phrasal verb)
Something that you come across is something you find by chance. It can also also mean that you behave in a particular way that makes people believe you have a certain characteristic.
Example A: I came across a word I’d never seen before.
Example B: He comes across really well on TV.

What do you think about copying an idea from someone else?

I suppose a lot depends on what the idea is, how valuable it is, and the context in which it is copied.

If someone rips off someone else’s idea, and pretends it’s their own, that’s probably not a good thing. I think it’s for this reason that most people, if they have a business idea or an idea for a school project, will keep it close to their chest, especially if it is somehow original or unique.

Ideas are copied all the time though. This is how innovation happens. People will take an existing idea, look at how it can be improved, and create something that’s incrementally better. This has been happening in business and science for donkey’s years and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future. Personally I have no problem with this and think it’s an essential part of society.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Context (noun)
The general situation in which something happens, which helps explain it.
Example: These events are meaningless outside their historical context.

Rip off (phrasal verb)
If you rip off something from someone else, it means you steal it from them or you copy something like their work without their permission.
Example: The company was always ripping off other people’s ideas.

Keep it close to you chest (idiom)
If you keep something close to your chest, you keep it secret. It refers to holding your cards close to your chest in a card game to keep them secret so other players can’t see what you’ve got.
Example: We’re all curious about what the boss has been discussing in those meetings with the lawyers, but she’s keeping it close to her chest.

Innovation (noun)
A new idea, method, piece of equipment, etc.
Example: There have been a lot of innovations in the car industry recently.

Incrementally (adverb)
Doing something in a series of steps.
Example: We need to proceed slowly and incrementally.

Donkey’s years (idiom, British)
A very long time.
Example: She’s been doing the same job for donkey’s years.

Foreseeable future (idiom)
The foreseeable future is the period of time when you can predict what is going to happen based on the current circumstances.
Example: It’s unlikely the school will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Is it always necessary to get permission to use something that belongs to someone else?

In some cases it isn’t. If the item is something insignificant or of a very low value, no. In spite of this, most people would still ask permission because it’s good manners.

An example that comes to mind is a pen. Most pens are cheap things that cost next to nothing. If someone needs to jot something down in a hurry, they may just pick up someone else’s pen without asking.

I think the closer two people are, the less often they’d need to ask permission to borrow something. It would be unusual for spouses to ask to borrow a pen because they’d already know the answer and it would feel like a waste of time to behave in such a formal manner.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Insignificant (adjective)
Something not important or thought to be valuable.
Example: Why are you arguing about such an insignificant amount of money?

In spite of this (idiom)
It’s a phrase used for referring to a fact that makes something else surprising.
Example: In spite of his injury, he’s going to play football this weekend.

Comes to mind (phrase)
If you suddenly remember something or start to think about it, it is said to come to mind.
Example: They asked for my comments, but nothing came to mind.

Next to nothing (idiom)
Something that is almost nothing, or a very small amount. It’s usually used to talk about money.
Example: After the company closed, the investors were left with next to nothing.

Jot something down (phrasal verb)
To write something quickly on a piece of paper so that you can remember it.
Example: I carry a notebook with me so that I can jot ideas down.

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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Flag
English
globe
United Kingdom
time
27
Speaks:
English
Native
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!