Today, I am going to tell you about a very common IELTS mistake. It is something that I frequently see when marking people’s task 2 essays because this is something that often appears in the introduction. I am talking about the phrases “agree with” and “agree to.”

Should I Say “Agree With” or “Agree To”?

Both of these phrases could be correct, but they have different uses. We use “agree with” when talking about ideas (such as capital punishment or animal rights) and “agree to” when we have been asked to do something (such as a favour for a friend).

Let’s take an example. Imagine you have been asked to help arrange a school event. You might tell your family, “I’ll be home later tonight. I’ve agreed to help organise a charity dinner at school.” This is how we talk about arrangements.

Conversely, someone might tell you, “I agree with universal healthcare. Everyone has the right to medicine in an advanced society.”

When to use “Agree With”

We mostly use “agree with” when talking about ideas. Above, I used the examples of universal healthcare, capital punishment, and animal rights. These are all ideas that could be “agreed with” or “disagreed with.” Here are some more:

  • I agree with the idea humans should act more responsibly towards the oceans.
  • She said she disagrees with the new Labour manifesto.
  • Most liberals disagree with anti-environmental rhetoric.
  • This essay will agree with the former opinion.
  • We agree with the aforementioned statement.
  • I agree with the notion that everyone should help out.

We can also use this structure when we are dealing with people, but in a sense we are agreeing or disagreeing with their ideas, so it is basically the same as the above point:

  • She always agrees with her mother.
  • I strongly disagree with the president.
  • Could you please agree with me every once in a while?
  • He strongly disagreed with his friend, but still respected him.
  • This essay will disagree with the idea that teachers should conduct more in-class tests.

“Disagree with” or “Do not Agree with”?

It is possible to make these statements into a negative form by changing “agree” to “disagree” or “do not agree.” Both of these are exactly the same, so you can choose either form. For example:

  • I disagree with his remarks.
  • I do not agree with his remarks.

However, we can modify “disagree” more easily:

  • I strongly disagree with his remarks.
  • I strongly do not agree with his remarks.

When to use “Agree to”

The phrase “agree to” is used when we talk about arrangements and agreements. Typically, someone has been asked to do something and they have said yes.

  • I agreed to cut Mr Thompson’s grass this weekend. (= because Mr Thompson had asked)
  • She agreed to help her brother with his homework. (= because her brother (or someone else) had asked)
  • The police agreed to escort the family home. (= because the family had asked)

“Disagree to” or “Do not Agree to”?

It is possible to say “do not agree to” but we cannot say “disagree to.”

  • She did not agree to help me move house.
  • She disagreed to help me move house.

Other Forms of Agree

We can also use “agree” with “that.” In this case, “that” begins a clause that takes the place of a noun. It tells the reader what you agree with. For example:

  • I agree that people should take more responsibility for their own actions.
  • He agreed that the news story was probably unreliable, but he said he still trusted the journalist.
  • We agree that you can can live here for the next two weeks.
  • Could you just agree that I am right so we can move on and forget about this?

We can also say “agree on” if two or more people come to the same perspective on an issue.

  • We have agreed on the terms of the deal.
  • Let’s agree on the basic principles first.
  • They two companies agreed on a plan for future collaborations.

Using “Agree” in IELTS Writing

It is possible to use pretty much any version of these for IELTS writing but the most common one is “agree with.” The reason is that you often need to use this in your introduction. Here is an example:

In the past few decades, it has become quite common for news reports to focus on major problems rather than positive news. It has been argued that this has a negative effect upon the wider community. This essay will partly agree with that.

Just remember that you should make it very clear what you are agreeing (or disagreeing) with. In this case, I have used “that,” which refers back to the idea expressed in the previous sentence.

Common Mistakes with “Agree”

The most common error that I see when marking essays is this one:

  • I agree this idea.
  • I disagree the previous view.

Basically, the problem is that the person has missed the word “with.” I often see people write “I agree to this idea” or “I agree on this idea.” However, as we have seen above, that is also incorrect.

Quiz

agree with vs agree to - Agree With vs Agree To

Can you fill in the blanks in these sentences with the correct preposition?

  1. This essay will agree ____ governments should take immediate action against drug trafficking.
  2. She agreed ____ the notion that prisoners should not be made too comfortable, but that they should be treated humanely.
  3. Can we just agree ____ a basic premise now and then we can hammer out the details later?
  4. She agreed ____ help him find a new car.
  5. Let’s agree ____ disagree!

I will post the answers in the comment section below.