First Page IELTS

I repeatedly advise students preparing for IELTS to read more fiction as a way to acquire and consolidate a wider range of vacabulary and grammar, but they often refuse to believe in the benefits of reading ‘for pleasure’. If anybody in the class has a novel with them, I ask to see it and then highlight – from the first page – all of the language likely to get them band 7 or above.

In this first 'First Page', we look at one of the favourites among my own students – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

Mr Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large moustache. Mrs Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbours. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.

The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters.



Prepositions of place

  • of number four - Especially when talking about the street address of a person or family, this structure is quite common!


  • thank you very much - ..after an adjective and comma, this implies the subject is unashamed, even proud, of the adjective being used to describe them! (in this case 'normal')

Phrasal verb

  • to be involved in - To be + V3 + in + something
  • craning over - If you 'crane over' something you have to lean forward and stretch your neck as far as possible!
  • bear it - If you cannot bear something (or someone), you do not have the emotional strength to tolerate it (or them).


  • hold with - If you 'hold with' an idea, you agree with it!


  • beefy - Muscular but also slightly fat.
  • came in very useful - = is useful on certain occasions

Task 1 Writing

  • had nearly twice the usual amount of - = twice (2 times) as much


  • there was no finer boy - = no boy was finer (more handsome)


  • discover - discover (v) a secret (n) - Also think about 'keep' (v) a secret (n)