ielts reading sentence ending

1. What Is a Sentence Ending?

A sentence ending is the last section of a sentence that completes it both grammatically and in terms of meaning. In IELTS Reading, the Matching Sentence Endings question will provide you with a list of sentence endings. The questions will be beginnings of sentences, which you will need to complete by choosing the correct sentence ending from the list. This question type does not appear as frequently in IELTS Reading tests, but is most definitely worth practising.

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The most common worry for some candidates regarding the Matching Sentence Endings question, is the need for them to understand the general meaning of the text and its paragraphs, as the questions summarise the idea in particular parts of the text. Luckily, Benchmark IELTS has some useful advice to help you prepare to answer the questions efficiently and successfully.

2. Examples of Matching Sentence Endings Question Type


3. Top 5 General Steps to Follow in All IELTS Reading Question Types

  1. Pay close attention to the instructions.
  2. Skim the text – give the text a quick read to understand its overall meaning
  3. Scan the text – give the text a quick read to identify detailed information for your answers
  4. Make sure no answers are left blank – there are no negative marks in IELTS, so give it your best shot and always provide an answer.
  5. Time is of the essence – spend no longer than 20 minutes on each passage, including skimming, scanning, finding answers and transferring them to your answer sheet.

IELTS Reading Question Types List

4. Tips 

4.1 Before recording your answers on the answer sheet, make sure to read the instructions carefully as they will explain the format you will need to use. Sentence endings are usually preceded by letters (A, B, C…). If that is the case, it is those letters that you will need to use as your answers on your answer sheet. Writing a phrase or a word would be considered incorrect even if it is the right answer which fits the gap at the end.

4.2 This question type focuses on the meaning of parts of the text. The beginning of a sentence will paraphrase an idea expressed in the text, and you will need to choose the ending that completes that idea, from a list of endings provided. Skimming the text will be very useful here, and careful reading should only take place once relevant information has been located in the passage.

4.3 You will need to paraphrase the beginning of sentences first, and the endings next. Find key words or phrases in them that you can express in other words that might appear in the text. This will help you understand the content better, and identify the information more effectively and time-efficiently.

4.4 There will be more endings than beginnings of sentences, so ensuring good understating of both the beginnings of sentences and the sentence endings’ meanings is crucial in order to select the correct answer. You may then choose to cross out any answers that do not apply.

4.5 Although the endings may not come in order in the list, the ideas expressed in the beginnings of sentences will come in order in the text. This may help you with finding the information more easily and managing your time more efficiently.

4.6 Make sure that the sentence endings make grammatical sense with the beginnings of sentences. This will help with a process of elimination for some questions. The full sentence must make grammatical sense, and so it may be worth trying to predict the type of language that would follow the beginning of the sentence; will the sentence ending begin with a noun? A verb? Predict the language and then go through the sentence endings to see which ones would make sense grammatically.

4.7 If several answers seem to make sense for one beginning of sentence, write their letters by the beginning of sentence, so that you can save time later when it comes to making a final decision on your answer. Once you have decided on the correct answer, cross out the other letter(s), so that you do not get confused when transferring your answers to the answer sheet.

4.8 To make the most of your time, only spend about 2 minutes skimming the text. It is good practice to read the first and last paragraphs, as well as the topic sentence (first sentence) of each paragraph, so that you can understand what they are about.

5. Good to Know

5.1 Some incomplete sentences may have several grammatically suitable sentence endings. It is therefore essential that you understand their meaning and the section of the text where they are found, so that you can choose the most appropriate answer.

5.2 In some cases, several sentence endings may be true and mentioned in the text, but only one will be the perfect fit to complete the sentence in question. A clear understanding of the content is key.

5.3 When trying to identify the information in the text, do not look for the exact same words as in the beginnings of sentences or in the sentence endings. Both parts of the sentences are designed to paraphrase an idea mentioned in the text, and will therefore not have the exact same wording as the part of the text where the information can be identified. That is why paraphrasing the questions and potential answers is very helpful, as those new words and synonyms may in fact be found in the text.

IELTS writing correction

5.4 When reading the text, do not analyse it carefully. You must look for general meaning first, and only proceed to detailed reading when you have identified the necessary information in the text that will help you answer the question.

5.5 To help with time-management, answer the easier questions first. The first question is usually the most difficult one, as there are often several sentence ending options for it, and so you should spend more time on that first question. The last question will typically seem easier as you will have eliminated most possibilities by the time you get to it.

6. Practice Question

Text topic

A Hippo’s Habitat


Hippos spend most of each day in shallow water. They typically stay either fully or partly immersed in freshwater rivers and lakes, and sometimes in saltwater estuaries.

Hippos travel at night to “hippo lawns” where they graze. They conduct such activity at night to avoid the scorching heat of the sun. Those grazing location are situated miles from the water in which they so enjoy spending time.

They may spend some time in water at night time, as well, therefore taking turns at the hippo lawns.


Complete the sentence with the correct ending, A-C, below.


Hippos prefer to eat their grass at night to...

A – the grass is fresher

B – escape the high temperatures of the day

C – trade places at the hippo lawns




B - escape the high temperatures of the day


If we look at the beginning of the sentence, we can see that it ends with ‘to’. This allows us to predict that the sentence ending will begin with a verb or an adverb. In that case, we can cross out A, as it begins with an article.

Both answers B and C are mentioned in the text and would make sense grammatically as they both begin with a verb. However, only one answer is accurate to this question. Below is the part of the text where the answer is found:

‘Hippos travel at night to “hippo lawns” where they graze. They conduct such activity at night to avoid the scorching heat of the sun’.

Therefore, the answer he is B - escape the high temperatures of the day.


Hippos prefer1 to eat their grass2 at night3 to...

  1. prefer = choose to, opt of, have a preference, are most likely to
  2. eat their grass = feed themselves, graze
  3. Night = sundown, night time, nocturnal
  1. the grass is fresher = the grass has better quality
  2. escape the high temperatures of the day = avoid the heat/sun
  3. trade places at hippo lawns = take turns/alternate at eating/feeding themselves/grazing

Text extracted, adapted, edited and partially paraphrased from the following source

7. Mock Test

Curious Jellyfish

Jellyfish are captivating animals. Their name is misleading, since they are not fish, but invertebrates, with no backbone. They move around but have no brain. They are beautiful creatures, yet they can be of great danger, as well. Their main body, also called the ‘bell’, is made of two thin layers of cells with non-living, watery material in between them. Some jellyfish are 98 percent water. Their structure allows to eat and grow without any worries of high metabolism. They are incredible creatures who have survived every mass extinction, and have been around for over 600 million years.

Jellyfish are known for their fearsome stings, which are considered one of the fastest processes in biology. The stinging cells of jellyfish are called cnidocytes which contain an organelle called nematocyst. When the jellyfish is incited to sting, those nematocysts come out. The pressure exercised makes for superfast jabs that last just 700 nanoseconds, with enough force to crack a crustacean shell at its weakest point.

Their stings are indeed harmful, but they are not intentional. Nematocysts are activated when they brush against any organic matter, including humans. There are some types of jellyfish which stings can be deadly, such as the box jellyfish of Northern Australia and the Indo pacific. Other stings do not penetrate the human skin. Interestingly enough, jellyfish do not sting each other, probably due to chemical cues. Their stings function even after they die, or if a tentacle is detached from their body. What’s more, if you eat squid that had eaten a jellyfish, it is possible that you might get stung.

We often think of jellyfish swimming right side up, with their bells pointing upward, but some jellyfish lay their bells on the ocean floor. They do that so that the microscopic algae in their tissues can face the sun and grow. They use these alae as a source of nutrition. They also dine on fish, shrimp, crabs and tiny plants.

Jellyfish can be eaten and are considered to be a delicacy, but they have also been used in the medical field. There are over 3000 species of jellyfish identified so far, and many of them are bioluminescent, which means the can create their own light. An important part of this trick used by one species, the crystal jellyfish, is a gene called green fluorescent protein or GFP. When used by scientists as a biomarker, this protein literally sheds light on the inner workings of the body, tracking processes from insulin production to HIV infection to muscle structure. The researchers who developed this technology eon the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2008.

Text edited, adapted and partially paraphrased from the following sources Source 1 Source 2

Questions 1– 5

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-H, below.

Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

IELTS Reading Matching Sentence Endings Question

  1. A jellyfish’s sting can be damaging and takes
  2. It is important to stay vigilant around jellyfish, as their sting can occur
  3. Some jellyfish do not float with their body facing up, but
  4. There are thousands of kinds of jellyfish, some of which can
  5. One kind of jellyfish produces a
  1. a lot of time to heal
  2. make their own light
  3. even after their death
  4. much energy out of the victim.
  5. protein that helps scientists understand how the body works.
  6. less than a second.
  7. lay on the ocean grounds.
  8. come in all kinds of colours.
Score - 0

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