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You’re about to learn 63 phrases to talk about illness and sickness in English. Also check out 60 Negative Emotion Adjectives to Describe Negative Feelings.

Here’s a strange thing about me (not the only strange thing, I can promise you that):

Sometimes I really enjoy getting ill.

I mean, you can take time off work without feeling bad.

And what other situation allows you to just sit on the sofa drinking tea and watching YouTube during the day?

Being ill is the only time that it’s really OK to do those things.

I guess it’s also because I work all the time and sometimes, it’s just nice to take a break.

With tea.

And YouTube.

Whether we enjoy it or not, we all get ill from time to time.

So it’s important to be able to talk about it, right?

So today, let’s look at all the different ways we can:

  • Talk about getting ill
  • Talk about being ill
  • Talk about how we try to stop being ill
  • Talk about stopping being ill

Let’s go!

Talking about getting ill

You know that feeling, right?

That feeling that not everything is quite right with your body.

When you feel a little bad … a little different from normal.

You can’t quite identify it, but you know what it means. It means you’re going to get ill.

Well, there are different ways of describing that feeling — that general, unidentifiable feeling you get before you’re properly ill.

I feel a bit rough.

In the beginning, it starts very subtly. You hardly notice it.

That’s when you can use this phrase.

Rough is an informal way of saying unpleasant.

I’m not feeling great.

This phrase is often used as an understatement — it’s a way of saying something negative without really saying something negative.

It’s a nice way not to alarm people or make people say annoying things like, “Oh no! You poor thing! Shall we call the doctor?”

I feel rubbish.

Yep. Something’s definitely wrong.

But you still don’t know what it is.

You just feel … bad.

Of course, you can use any word that means bad here, like terrible or awful or dreadful or — to sound a little posh — ghastly.

Feeling under the weather

This is a classic phrase and, according to the super-useful Google Ngram Viewer, has become more popular recently.

Again, this is commonly used as an understatement — especially if you hear this from a British person. (Brits are the world leaders in understatements.)

If you hear a Brit say, “I’m a bit under the weather,” then what they mean is, “I’m about to die. Please take me to the hospital now. Or the cemetery.”

I’m not feeling 100%.

The last understatement of this list.

You’re not feeling 100%? And you’re British?

This probably means “I’m feeling 20%. Please give me some medicine.”

I think I’ve caught a bug.

When you’re finally sure that you’re not just feeling bad, but you’re definitely getting properly ill, then you can say that you’ve caught a bug or caught the bug.

A bug is basically another word for virus.

We often talk about a bug going ’round.

So you can say:

“I really don’t feel 100%. I think I’ve caught the bug that’s been going ’round.”

I think I’m coming down with something.

Another phrase that signals that you’re not just feeling bad — you are definitely ill!

“To come down with something” basically means that you’re ill. You’ve caught something — a virus, the flu, a bug.

Talking about being ill

OK. Then it actually happens.

You get ill!

But what kind of illness have you got?

What are your symptoms?

The classic ones

OK. First of all, let’s look at the ones you probably already learned at school.

Here’s a quick tip.

Most of the time, when we’re talking in simple terms about being ill, we use the phrase “I’ve got a …”

So you can say, “I’ve got a …”

Temperature

It means you’re really hot. And not in a sexy kind of way. Americans also say “I’ve got a fever” in this situation, too.

Sore throat

Your throat hurts.

A headache

You guessed it! Your head hurts. If it’s a small headache, you can say that you’ve got a bit of a headache. If it’s really bad, then say that you’ve got a splitting headache.

A runny nose

Eugh … Snot everywhere! Running out of your nose and getting everywhere. You have to blow your nose every two minutes, but it just keeps on coming! Where does it all come from? Yeah, sorry for that image. This is when you get a tissue and blow your nose.

A cough

Maybe it’s time to give up smoking.

A cold

This basically describes having one or all (or a few) of these symptoms. A cold is just a bug or a virus. And you’ve got it! By the way, be careful here. Don’t say “I’ve got cold” — it has a different meaning. Remember to say “a cold.”

My … is killing me!

This is just another way of saying, “It really hurts!”

Perhaps your back is killing you because you did your squats wrong at the gym.

Or perhaps you want to say, “My arm is killing me!” because that stupid kangaroo decided to start punching you when you were feeding it.

Don’t feed the kangaroos.

All clogged up / all bunged up

You know that feeling?

When you can’t breathe through your nose anymore.

It’s completely blocked, and it’s making your head feel like it’s going to explode.

Relief! via GIPHY

Feel faint / light-headed / dizzy

This is probably my least favourite symptom here.

Maybe you haven’t eaten enough.

Or maybe you stood up too quickly.

Or maybe you just saw a gang of spiders eat a live anaconda.

This is when you feel that you’re going to lose consciousness or faint or pass out.

Usually you don’t. But that feeling is still awful, isn’t it?

Cold sweats

This is what it sounds like.

That feeling when you’re sweating (your skin becomes wet), but you feel cold at the same time.

You can have cold sweats.

Or something can give you cold sweats.

And sometimes we use the phrase “she woke up in the middle of the night with cold sweats.”

Fun stuff, eh?

Swelling / swollen things

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to something?

Perhaps a bee stung you?

What happened next?

Did the area where the bee stung start growing?

Did it create a large bump that looked like someone put a golf ball under your skin?

That’s called swelling.

We sometimes use the noun:

“OK, Mr. Dudd. I need to ask you if there’s been any swelling in your upper thigh area.”

Or the verb:

“Whenever spring arrives, his face swells up like a balloon. He’s sooooo allergic!”

Or even the adjective:

“After that kangaroo punched him repeatedly, he had a very swollen face.”

Don’t feed the kangaroos.

Throwing up / vomiting / be sick

Hooray!

You’ve just eaten 4 kg of baklava with ice cream!

Now what happens?

It all comes back up, of course.

From your stomach and out of your mouth.

The standard verb for this is “to vomit.”

But we often use the phrase “throw up,” too.

Another one is “be sick.”

Yep — I know. This is really confusing because being sick is the general topic of this post, not just the food-from-the-stomach-through-the-mouth thing.

This is when context is everything:

“Where’s Nadia?”
“Oh. She’s in the bathroom. She said she was going to be sick.”

Can’t keep anything down

Sometimes, when you’re ill, you just can’t eat or drink anything.

Well, you can, but then you just throw it all up again.

When someone’s in this situation, we say that they can’t keep anything down.

Makes sense, right?

Scratchy or itchy throat

When your throat is really sensitive, and every time you breathe in, it makes you want to cough.

Annoying, right?

Stomach bug / stomach flu

When you get a cold, it means you’ve caught a bug.

But you can also have a stomach bug, when you get all sorts of pains in the stomach, you feel like you want to throw up all the time, you might have diarrhea (see below), and you might also have a temperature.

Not the best thing to have while camping in the desert, I can promise you that.

Have diarrhea / the runs

OK. How to describe this?

Well, when we need the toilet, we either pass liquids (also known as a “number one”), or we pass solids (known as a “number two”).

However, sometimes passing solids is more like passing liquids.

This can happen when you’ve got a stomach bug or when you’ve had too much curry.

Wet poo!

I’m talking about wet poo!

Now, let’s move on …

Have constipation

The opposite of diarrhea.

When your solids are so solid that you just sit on the toilet for hours, days, even weeks, just trying to get something out.

This is fun, isn’t it?

Let’s get out of the toilet area now.

Cuts

Your skin has been pierced.

Then blood comes out.

That’s a cut.

You can use it as a noun:

“He was completely covered in cuts.”

Or a verb:

“Careful! You’ll cut your fingers. Let me do it!”

Bruises

A while back, I wrote a post on how to remember new vocabulary.

In it, I talked about this word and how you can remember it by thinking of Bruce Willis.

Bruce – bruise … Sounds the same, right?

But what is a bruise?

Well, if a kangaroo punches you on the arm too many times, that part of your arm will change colour and go purple, right?

That’s a bruise.

Don’t feed the kangaroos.

Gashes

Gashes are nasty.

They’re like cuts.

But they’re deeper and longer.

More serious and more likely to make you feel faint.

Moving on now.

Sores

Remember “sore throat”?

Well, a sore is a part of your body that’s hurting — usually because it’s not protected.

Sores are usually places where the skin is broken or infected, causing pain.

Pulled a muscle

Do you go to the gym?

Then be careful out there — you don’t want to pull a muscle.

It can happen when you stretch a muscle too much or even cause it to tear a bit.

But don’t worry — it usually repairs itself.

Isn’t the body amazing?

Bedridden

If your illness is really bad, you can’t leave your bed.

That’s when you’re bedridden.

Down with the flu

This is another way of saying, “He’s got the flu.”

“How’s Jini?”
“Oh — she’s been down with the flu for a few days.”

Off sick

You’re ill, and you can’t go to work?

OK. Then you’re off sick.

Pull a sickie

You’re pretending to be ill so you can’t go to work, but actually you just want to hang out with your cousin who’s in town for the day and who you never get to spend time with so you call work and tell them you’re sick?

Then you’ve just pulled a sickie.

Don’t get caught!

Trying to stop being ill

OK. So you’re ill.

But now what?

Do you just sit around waiting for it to end?

No way! This is when you fight it!

And how do you fight it?

Well, there are a few approaches.

Ways to stop being ill Medicine

OK. We know what this is, right? This is something that is going to cure your illness. Something with scientific research..

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In this lesson, you’re going to learn some words and phrases to talk about the weather in English. Also check out Different Ways to Ask and Tell the Time in English.

Before we start, notice you won’t see the word “weather” here as much as you might think, considering this is a lesson on weather vocabulary.

That’s because we usually know we’re talking about the weather from the context.

So you don’t need to say, “The weather’s sunny.”

We know you’re talking about the weather because you used the word “sunny.”

I mean, you can’t say, “This cake is very sunny,” or “I like your hair. It’s sunny.”

So when we talk about the weather in English, we usually just use the word “it.”

“It’s sunny.”

Good? Nice, let’s get going.

The Weather in English #1 ☂ Talking about rainy weather ☂

The English language comes from England, where rain also comes from.

So it’s no surprise that we have a lot of words and phrases related to rain.

What they teach you in school:

It’s raining.
It’s rainy.

OK. These are straightforward, right?

But there’s a small difference here that you should probably bear in mind.

We use “it’s raining” when we just want to describe the weather right now.

But when we say “it’s rainy,” we might be describing the general climate of a place:

“I wouldn’t go there on holiday. It’s really, really rainy.”

or even just the day:

“What a rainy day!”

There are rain clouds on the horizon.

The horizon!

It sounds like some epic destination that space travellers are searching for.

Or a cool bar in Dubai.

But actually, it’s the name for this:

And when you say you see rain clouds on it, you’re telling people that you think it might rain.

(I just checked and unsurprisingly, there’s a bar in Dubai called “Horizon.”)

Looks like rain.

What looks like rain?

Showers … showers look a bit like rain.

But obviously, this is a short way of saying, “It looks like it’s going to rain.”

But we say, “Looks like rain,” instead.

Because we’re lazy.

And that’s fine.

It’s pouring. / It’s pouring down.

This just means “It’s raining – a lot.”

When I was a kid, we had this weird nursery rhyme:

“It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed and bumped his head
and couldn’t get up in the morning.”

Wait. Is he dead? Is the old man dead? Is that what this means?

Did he slip on some water left by the rain?

I never realised how dark this rhyme was.

Downpour

If you want to describe heavy rain in one handy noun, here it is.

“Wow! Look at the sky! Expect a downpour!”

We also use it with the word “sudden” a lot:

“The sudden downpour took everyone by surprise and almost destroyed all the sound equipment.”

The rain dies down.

There’s something I like about sudden downpours.

When you’re walking in the street and there’s a downpour, everyone starts looking for shelter – usually in shops or in shop doorways.

I quite like those moments. Everyone suddenly finds themselves in the same situation.

Sometimes we look at each other and smile because, to be fair, the situation is slightly ridiculous.

Then the rain dies down, and we continue with our day.

Human bonding – all because of the weather.

Out in the pouring rain

So we sometimes talk about the pouring rain.

But when we do, we usually talk about it like a place.

And usually a place that you don’t want to be in:

“When I got home, I realised I’d left my keys behind. I couldn’t get in and was stuck outside in the pouring rain.”

or

“I hate thinking about all those poor homeless people – out in the pouring rain on a night like this.”

Some wet weather / It’s very wet here. / It’s wet out there.

We use the word “wet” a lot.

We use it to describe rainy weather in a very general way.

Maybe we’ve got heavy rain, or maybe it’s light – it doesn’t matter. We still use the word “wet.”

We can use it to describe the word “weather”:

“We had some seriously wet weather over the weekend.”

or a day, week, month or even a year:

“This was the wettest year on record.”

Or, if you’re unlucky, a weekend:

“What a wet weekend. We couldn’t do anything fun!”

It’s drizzling.

This is when rain behaves pathetically.

You know – when it’s not really raining, but it is.

When you can barely notice the rain, but it’s there, making your clothes wet and your hair look silly.

But you can’t even feel it.

In short – very, very, very light rain.

It’s spitting.

Some rain just comes suddenly.

But some comes so slowly that you don’t even notice at first.

There’s one single drop.

Then a minute later another one.

Then another …

That’s when you can say, “It’s spitting.”

Which is kind of disgusting if you think about it.

Light rain / heavy rain

You may have noticed already, but we can use the words “light” and “heavy” to describe how strong the rain is.

Light showers / heavy showers

We can also use “showers” or “a shower” to describe rain.

I most often hear this when I’m watching the weather forecast on TV:

“We’ll have some heavy showers in and around Liverpool and the rest of the country this afternoon, continuing into the evening and into the year 2048.”

The heavens opened.

It happens to all of us.

We’re just sitting there in the sun enjoying ourselves and our massive picnic.

Then suddenly, without any warning, boom! Rain – lots of rain!

We can use this phrase when we get surprised by a sudden downpour.

“… then the heavens just opened, and we had to find shelter in a nearby shop, which turned out to sell mannequins. We were there for a while.”

Thunderstorm

It’s raining! It’s very windy! And more excitingly, there’s electricity in the sky!

It’s a thunderstorm!

Thunder and lightning

During a thunderstorm, you get this heavy, deep, rumbling sound.

That’s thunder.

And the sky electricity? That’s lightning!

We usually use the word “strike” in the passive when we talk about lightning hitting things or people.

“Careful out there … you don’t wanna get struck by lightning!”

You can hear Marty McFly using this expression in this clip. But he is shouting a lot (as usual), so it’s a bit tricky to hear:

Lightning Strike - YouTube

Hail

Sometimes, when I think about the weather properly, I can’t believe it.

I mean – WTF?

Rocks made of ice falling from the sky!

Think about that for a minute.

Crazy, right?

Whenever this ridiculous phenomenon happens, we either go for a verb:

“I don’t believe it! It’s started hailing. Again!”

or a noun:

“There might be some hail later today, according to Google.”

Sleet

It’s trying to be snow, but it’s failing.

Maybe it’s trying to be hail, but it’s failing.

It’s just slightly icy rain.

It still hurts, though.

Damp

This isn’t technically about rain, but it really captures the spirit of a rainy country.

So, let me describe it by complaining, once again, about the weather in England.

England is damp. It’s damp because it’s not just wet, but because the wetness gets everywhere.

You feel it under your skin, even when you’re inside.

Everything you touch feels wet – even when it’s not.

When it’s only slightly cold, you feel freezing.

Why? Because England is damp.

We also use the phrase “cold and damp.” Especially in England, of course.

The Weather in English #2 ☀ Talking about sunny weather ☀

What they teach you in school:

It’s sunny.
The sun’s shining.

These phrases are absolutely fine, of course; there’s a reason we learn them in school – they’re very common.

But there are lots of other interesting and common expressions you can use to talk about the weather in English.

The sun’s out!

This means that the sun is not hiding behind a cloud or hiding behind the rest of the earth (otherwise known as night-time).

The sun is there – for you to see and enjoy!

It’s out!

The sun’s come out!

We usually use this expression on a cloudy day.

It basically means “Look! We can see the sun! Let’s enjoy it now before it disappears again!”

There wasn’t a cloud in sight.

Did you notice that I used the past tense here?

That’s because this phrase is quite descriptive and is great when you want to set the scene for a story.

Maybe you’re writing that novel that will make you famous, and you want to get the atmosphere just right.

Or maybe you’re telling your friends that hilarious story about the time you went on holiday to the Canary Islands and came back with a python in your bag.

Whatever your reasons, this phrase will really help paint a picture for your story.

The sky was blue.

Again, this one is a little descriptive and really creates an image in the mind.

It also helps create a sense of freedom and possibility.

Those days when you don’t have any work to do and you wake up to a blue sky and the freedom to do what you want.

That feeling of expectation just before you end up spending all day on Facebook wondering where the time went.

The Weather in English #3 ☁ Talking about cloudy weather ☁

What they teach you in school:

It’s cloudy.

Again, this is a perfectly natural expression. It’s very common and used by more or less everyone.

But there are some other phrases with a bit more nuance:

Overcast

Sometimes it’s just cloudy. You look out of the window and see clouds. Like this:

That’s easy to..

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These 7 drawings are from my new book, 102 Little Drawings That Will Help You Remember English Rules Forever (Probably). Click here to get your copy.

Some things in English are tricky.

You try to understand a difficult grammatical point or try to remember a new phrase … but with no success.

Then one day someone shows you a simple, little picture.

And you say, “Ahhh … OK! I get it now!”

They say a picture says 1,000 words.

So here are 7 little pictures that will help you remember:

  • how to choose the right preposition
  • fun ways to remember phrasal verbs
  • my hack to remember the passive
  • when to use “during” and “for”
#1 On or in the island?

Don’t say:

✘ “We spend three amazing days in the island.”

Don’t tell me that you’re in the island.

Unless you’re exploring some caves.

Or something truly terrible has happened.

Or you’ve got kids, and they’ve decided it’d be fun to bury you today.

Examples:

“We spend three amazing days on the island.”

“There are lots of weird animals on this island. I want to go home!”

#46 Catch up, ketchup!

Catch up with means:

go faster so that you can reach someone (or something) that was in front of you before

Everyone knows that people are faster than bottles of tomato ketchup.

That’s why the ketchup can’t catch up with the person.

It will always be behind.

Examples:

“You go ahead. I’ll finish this and catch up with you.”

“The police will catch up with you sooner or later.”

#72 In the south or south?

Don’t say:

✘ “He has a house south of Iceland.”

It’s a small difference.

Remember that in the south of somewhere is still inside that place.

But south of somewhere is outside that place.

It makes the difference between being in a nice country full of nice people and being in very, very cold water.

Examples:

“He has a house in the south of Iceland.”

“I live south of the river.”

#49 Drop by

Drop by means:

make a quick visit

“Nice of you to drop by.”

This phrasal verb means “make a quick visit.”

It’s quite informal, and you can also use “drop in” or “drop in at (somewhere).”

Examples:

“You must drop by next time you’re in town.”

“I’m going to drop in at Alison’s flat on the way home. I’ll be a bit later than normal.”

#87 A passive shortcut

To form the passive, just add be.

The passive is pretty simple if you think about it the right way.

The magic formula?

Just add be.

If you can use be in the different tenses, then you can use the passive.

Just make sure to use verb 3 (the past participle), too.

Examples:

“Look! My bike! It’s been stolen.”

“Do you think you’ll be promoted before you retire?”

#97 During or for?

Don’t say:

✘ “I’m going to stay in Edirne during three days.”

We use during with a noun.

So you can say, “My dad fell asleep during the film. Again.”

We use for with a time frame (11 days, an hour, a week, etc.).

“He kept talking for an hour. I almost fell asleep.”

Examples:

“I’m going to stay in Edirne for three days.”

“They didn’t show any films during the flight.”

#25 A crane in Ukraine

To remember crane, think of Ukraine.

So we all know the country Ukraine, right?

You might even be from there.

I haven’t been there myself, but I’m sure some of the cities have plenty of cranes around.

Cranes in Ukraine!

Examples:

“Containers are lifted onto the ship using these cranes.”

… so did you like it? This was a sample from my popular book, 102 Little Drawings That Will Help You Remember English Rules Forever (Probably).

Here’s what other English learners like you thought about it:

“Fun fast easy and good”
Kim, Denmark

“… one remembers faster and learns faster”
Diah, Indonesia

“Practical and concrete … Simple rules with clever and funny little drawings to help you avoid making the same endless mistakes”
Emmanuelle, France

Click the big green button to get your copy:

If you found this blog post useful, please be awesome and SHARE it on your favourite (and least favourite, if you like) social media platforms.

Meanwhile, I’ll see you next week when I promise to shut up about the book and show you some advanced phrases for talking about the weather.

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Let’s take a look at some ways of comparing English. While you’re here, check out Money Vocabulary: 42 Words to Talk About Money in English.

OK. Let’s play that world-famous game, Compare the Circles.

What? You don’t know it?

Well, it’s really easy!

First of all, can you compare these circles?

Easy, right? “Circle A is bigger than circle B.”

OK — what about these circles?

OK — “Circle A is bigger than circle B.”

Again.

And now?

Did you say, “Circle A is bigger than circle B,” again?

OK. You’re correct, but there are lots of other, more interesting ways to compare things in English.

Let’s take a look at them!

Ways of Comparing in English: With Adjectives

Remember when you first learned how to compare things in English?

I’m guessing you probably learned to compare things using adjectives — talking about how Moscow is bigger than London, for example.

Or how pasta is tastier than salad.

And why not? Adjectives are probably the most common way we compare things.

But there are lots of different ways we can do it:

Click here for a text version of the image above.
Adjectives with one syllable

smart
smarter
even smarter
the smartest

less smart
even less smart
the least smart

Adjectives with more than two syllables

ridiculous
more ridiculous
even more ridiculous
the most ridiculous

less ridiculous
even less ridiculous
the least ridiculous

Adjectives with two syllables

smelly
smellier / more smelly
even smellier / even more smelly
the smelliest / the most smelly

Making them stronger or weaker

a bit / a tad / a little / a tiny bit higher
somewhat higher
much / way / far / considerably / a whole lot higher

easily / by far the smallest
the smallest by a long shot / by a long way

Using them in a sentence

Art is more interesting than …
… maths. (noun)
… I thought. (SVO*)
… what you’re doing. (who/what/where … + SVO)
… ever.

*SVO = subject-verb-object

He’s the tallest kid …
… in the room. (place)
… out of his friends. (out of …)
… (that) I’ve ever seen. (that + SVO)
… to ever walk the earth. (to + verb 1)
… of all.

Using “as … as”

Nowhere near as fast as Larry.
Not as fast as Larry.
Not quite as fast as Larry.
Just as fast as Larry.

Not as far as …
… Sydbourne. (noun)
… I thought. (SVO)
… where we were last week. (who/what/where … + SVO)

Ways of Comparing in English: With Adverbs

Comparing things doesn’t stop at adjectives!

Sometimes we want to compare the different ways people do things.

That’s where adverbs step in:


Click here for a text version of the image above.

Comparing with adverbs

He speaks quickly.
She speaks more quickly.
He speaks even more quickly.
She speaks the most quickly.

Using them in a sentence

He’s singing more loudly than …
… Metallica. (noun)
… he needs to. (SVO)
… when he was two years old. (who/what/where … + SVO)

That one shines the brightest …
… in the sky. (place)
… out of all the stars. (out of …)
… that I’ve ever seen. (that + SVO)

Ways of Comparing in English: With Nouns

When we want to compare two (or more) things, we usually use adjectives.

But sometimes, the adjective just isn’t quite enough.

Sometimes what you want to say can be better expressed with a noun.

Remember, we can’t use just any noun.

For example, you can’t say that your table is more of a table than my table.

They’re both just tables.

Also — comparing tables like that is strange.

But there are some nouns that have a feeling of opinion about them.

Nouns like “success,” “idiot,” “challenge” and “difficulty.”

Here’s how to use them:


Click here for a text version of the image above.

Comparing with nouns

an idiot
more of an idiot
even more of an idiot
the biggest idiot

less of an idiot
even less of an idiot

Using them in a sentence

It’s the biggest discovery …
… in South America. (place)
… out of the team. (out of …)
… that the world has seen. (that + SVO)
… of all.
… ever.

Using “as … as”

Mr Derek is not as much of a genius as Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein was just as much of a genius as Stephen Hawking.

Ways of Comparing in English: With Verbs

Finally! The real action! The verbs!

Comparing things with verbs is actually quite easy.

You usually just add “more than” to the sentence.

Click here for a text version of the image above.
Comparing with verbs

He speaks more than he listens.

Making them stronger or weaker

He’s played guitar much / way / far/ considerably / a whole lot more than …
She’s played guitar by far the most.
She’s played guitar the most by a long shot / by a long way.

Using them in a sentence

We go on holiday now more than …
… you. (noun)
… we used to. (SVO)
… when I had your job. (who/what/where … + SVO)
… ever.

He uses the ’90s stereo the most …
… in the library. (place)
… out of the class. (out of …)
… (that) I’ve seen. (that + SVO)
… of all.
… ever.

Using “as … as”

My cat sleeps as much as …
… your cat. (noun)
… she eats. (SVO)

OK — now for the fun question:

Give me three differences between Elon Musk and a cat.

Answer in the comments!

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Today you’re going to learn 15 other words for congratulations! Also check out 33 Ways to Say Yes in English.

OK, so your best friend has just got a new job.

What do you say to her?

You say “congratulations,” right?

Then she tells you that she’s just got engaged.

Do you say “congratulations” again?

Then she tells you that her brother has just been made prime minister.

Do you say “congratulations” AGAIN?

There are lots of different ways to say congratulations.

If you don’t want to say the same thing again and again, then you’ll need these!

Informal Ways to Say Congratulations

Some good news is really, really good.

For example, your sister-in-law has just told you that she’s been selected to go on a space mission to Mars with Justin Timberlake. Very good news.

And some good news is … just good news.

For example, someone in the hostel you’re staying at has finally managed to open that difficult jar of beans. Yeah — good news. But not that good.

When we congratulate people, our level of enthusiasm changes depending on the news.

If you’re too enthusiastic about the beans, then you’ll just seem weird:

Some phrases work for either situation, and some don’t.

Let’s look at them one by one.

Nice one!

This phrase is suitable for pretty much any informal situation. The key here is how you say it.

Here’s an example for something big:

“I got the tickets for the gig! And … We’ve got backstage passes!”
Nice one!”

Here’s an example for something small:

“Did you remember to lock the door?”
“Yep.”
Nice one!”

We can also use this one sarcastically:

“Oh no! I just deleted the whole contacts list.”
“Oh … Nice one, Barry.”

Good one!

This one isn’t so suitable for big news. It would feel a little unenthusiastic if you said this to someone who had just won an Oscar, for example.

Save it for the little things:

“OK. I managed to rent some nice bikes for the day.”
Good one! Let’s hit the road!”

However, this one is particularly good if you want to be sarcastic:

“Oh … I think I’ve put the whole thing on backwards.”
“Haha! Good one!”

Kudos!

Kudos is originally Greek and means praise or glory.

It kind of means “The universe believes you deserve respect! And I agree!”

We usually use it when we want to congratulate someone on something they’ve achieved — usually through hard work or a job well done.

“I’m finally getting a day off after completing that massive coding project.”
“Hey! Kudos!”

Respect!

If kudos means “The universe believes you deserve respect,” then respect in this context simply means “I believe you deserve respect.”

It’s more personal and a little more friendly.

“I just learned 40 songs in one weekend.”
Respect! Can you sing one now?”

Congrats!

Would you be surprised if I told you that this was short for “fish man in the hat”?

Then you should be, because it isn’t.

It’s actually short for congratulations!

Even though it’s a shorter, more informal word, we still don’t really use it for small news. Save it for the bigger stuff.

“We won the match. Again!”
Congrats! Pub?”

You rock!

Sometimes when your friend has done something really well, you feel proud of them, right?

What better way of telling them that you’re proud of them than by telling them that they rock, as in “rock n’ roll” — you know, in the way that Freddie Mercury completely and utterly rocked!

I mean — just look at him!

Queen – Freddie Mercury by Carl Lender | CC BY 2.0

“Two weeks of yoga, and I’m already learning how to fly!”
“Yeah! You rock!”

Can you feel the enthusiasm?

You rule!

As you can imagine, this is basically the same as “You rock!”

Your friend did something amazing! Now they rule!

Rule what? The world? The school? My neighbour’s tractor?

They just … generally … rule! Stop asking questions!

“They wouldn’t listen, but I just kept making my point, and in the end, they decided to follow my advice!”
You rule!”

Way to go!

I really like this phrase.

When you use it positively, it’s absolutely bursting with (full of) enthusiasm and energy.

“Your book got a review in the New York Times, and they loved it? Way to go, man!”

But this one is also very commonly used as a sarcastic phrase:

“I don’t believe it. We have to do the whole thing again just because Barry didn’t remember to submit his file? Way to go, Barry! Thanks a lot!”

Damn that Barry.

Less Informal Ways to Say Congratulations

Of course, most of the phrases we’ve looked at so far would not be suitable in every situation.

If you met the queen of Sweden, and she told you that she was recently voted the most popular Swedish queen ever, you probably wouldn’t say, “You rock!” or “Way to go, Queenie!”

Unless you’re the king of Sweden. In which case, it’s great to have you reading this blog, Carl.

I’m really pleased for you.

This one is definitely very nice and certainly suitable for formal situations:

“You’ve been voted the most popular Swedish queen ever? I’m really pleased for you!”

Good for you!

It sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it?

I mean, carrots are good for you.

Long walks in the park are good for you.

But we can also use this phrase to mean “This is good news for you, and I’m happy for you!”

“Gustav has just told me the news. I got the promotion!”
Good for you!”

Well done!

This is short and simple and very efficient.

We usually use this phrase to refer directly to some work that someone has done — that someone has done well. You might say that the work was … well done.

“I blocked the hack attack and removed all the viruses. We’re safe now!”
Well done, Tammy!”

Good work!

This is more or less the same as “well done.”

“I blocked the hack attack and removed all the viruses. We’re safe now!
Good work, Tommy!”

Excellent job!

But what if the work was even better?

Then we can upgrade:

“I blocked the hack attack and removed all the viruses AND restructured the mainframe so it won’t happen again.”
Excellent job, Tammy.”

Of course, if you like, you can change excellent for any adjective that means “very good.”

I’m impressed!

It’s always nice to hear people describe how your actions make them feel (when it makes them feel good, of course).

This is a great way to reassure people that they’ve done well.

It’s particularly useful if you’re someone’s boss or supervisor — it provides encouragement and gives people motivation to do their jobs better.

“So you’ve been offered positions at Tesla, NASA and Clark and Miller? I’m impressed!”

Impressive!

You can say “I’m impressed,” or, if you’d prefer to sound like Roger Moore, you can go for “impressive.”

“We have built this earth destruction machine out of nothing but pure gold. What do you say to that, Mr Bond?”
Impressive!”

Sir Roger Moore 3 by Allan Warren | CC BY 2.0

RIP, Roger!

So now, next time you want to say “congratulations,” try one of these instead!

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Today you’re going to find out the difference between relation and relationship. Also check out Family Vocabulary: Family Members in English.

Quick! Answer these questions:

  1. Do we say “I’m in a relation,” or “I’m in a relationship”?
  2. Are you visiting relatives or relationships next week?
  3. Is there a relationship between the sun and Earth? Or is there a relation between the sun and Earth?

The words relation and relationship can be a bit confusing.

But they don’t have to be. Read on to find out the differences.

Meaning of relation We use relation to talk about family members ★ Relation can mean “member of your family”

Relation and relative sometimes have the same meaning.

So you can say, “I can’t go paintballing with you this weekend — I’ve got to go and visit my relatives.”

Or you can say, “I can’t go paintballing with you this weekend — I’ve got to go and visit my relations.”

The difference?

There isn’t any difference. Some people prefer to use relative, and some people prefer relation.

★ The phrase “no relation” can help with confusing situations

We also have the phrase “no relation.”

We use it to stop people getting confused when two people who are not related have the same surname.

You can simply add the phrase “no relation” after the name that might be confusing.

“James Thompson was in court today accusing Cindy Thompson, no relation, of stealing his rabbit.”

“When I was in Washington, I met a politician called Angello Trump, no relation.”

You can also use the question “Any relation?” to ask whether someone is related to someone else with the same name.

For example, let’s say that you want to join the David Attenborough Fan Club.

And why not? I mean, David Attenborough is kind of fantastic:

So you go to the David Attenborough Fan Club office and meet the fan club chairwoman.

She tells you her name, and you’re a bit surprised.

Her name is Charlene Attenborough.

So is she one of David’s relatives?

The word relations can describe how well people get on ★ We use relations for bigger groups of people

We can use the word relations to describe how good things are between groups of people.

We usually use it for large groups of people, like countries, companies and their shareholders, or extended families.

So we can talk about how a company needs to improve relations with its shareholders.

Or how relations between India and Scotland are excellent at the moment.

Notice that we say “relations with …” or “relations between … and …”

It’s also worth noting that this word is quite formal. You’ll see it in the paper and hear it on the news a lot.

★ Common collocations with relations

Describing how well groups of people get on with each other can be a sensitive subject sometimes.

So for these cases, there are a lot of collocations with the word relations:

We use the phrase “race relations” to describe how good or bad things are between different races in a country.

If two countries get annoyed with each other and decide not to talk to each other anymore (as if they were four-year-old children), then we can say that they have cut off (or severed) diplomatic relations.

Business relations” between countries refers to how well the countries do business together.

And if you’re a big, bad, evil corporation that does big, bad, evil things, you’re going to need a good PR team.

And what does PR stand for?

Public relations, of course!

They’re the people who try to make sure everyone sees the corporation as the good guys. Even when they kill puppies. With oil.

Use “in relation to” to compare or connect two things ★ Use “in relation to” to compare two things

Let’s say you have a fantastic job working in PR. You’re earning big bucks.

But you’re not satisfied.

You want to do something more interesting and more fulfilling.

So you quit your job and follow your lifelong dream of training dogs for Hollywood.

A much more enjoyable job, right?

But when you compare the salary to your old job, it’s much lower.

So you can say your new job pays much less in relation to your old one.

It’s the same as “compared to.”

“The population of the city is very big in relation to its size.”

“Cats have very small brains in relation to how much they can actually remember. My cat has never forgiven me about the time I ate her catnip.”

★ Use “in relation to” to connect two ideas

“In relation to” can also connect two ideas or topics.

It’s another, more formal way of saying about.

Let’s take an example.

Here’s Nancy. Nancy’s a popular DJ.

But yesterday she was being interviewed on live TV and told everyone that she believed that the world was flat and that it was created by singing elephants.

Now everyone wants to know if that’s really what Nancy believes.

So of course her PR team needs to step in to stop her looking any more ridiculous.

This phrase is definitely quite formal and can be especially useful in academic situations:

“There have been no convincing theories in relation to successful time travel.”

“These plants need a lot of extra attention in the winter, especially in relation to water levels.”

Meaning of relationship

The word relationship is used in a similar way to the word relation.

But there are some important differences.

Use relationship to describe the situation with your partner ★ “In a relationship” can describe your status

Do you remember when Facebook started, and it was only available in English?

A lot of my students picked up some interesting vocabulary in those days — words like poke and wave.

Some of them also learned the phrase “relationship status” as well as the various possible options for “relationship status.”

There were, of course, the classics: single, married, engaged.

There was the interesting one: it’s complicated.

And there was “in a relationship.”

Or even “in a relationship with Barry McBarry” (or whoever you were in a relationship with).

When you say you’re in a relationship, you might be married; you might just be partners. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the love that grows between you day by day, right?

★ You can also talk about a relationship as an abstract concept

When two people get together and become partners, sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t go that well.

When we want to talk about it more subjectively, we can talk about the relationship as a concept.

“Their relationship kept getting worse and worse.”

This reminds me of a line from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall:

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

If a relationship is going badly, it might be time to get off Facebook and work on the relationship.

The word relationship can describe how well people get on

“Hang on a minute! You said the same thing about the word relations!” I can hear you say.

And you’re right.

But there are some differences.

★ We use relationship for smaller groups of people

As we saw above, relations can describe how things are between countries, cities, large families, companies, etc.

But when we want to make things more personal — more human — we use the word relationship instead.

Interestingly, we often use relationship with words like good or bad.

“We make sure that we maintain a fantastic relationship with our clients.”

“The relationship between the brothers is terrible at the moment.”

★ Common phrases with relationship

When a business relationship starts well, you can say that you’ve established a good relationship.

Then, to make sure things just keep getting better, you can build up the relationship or strengthen the relationship.

Sometimes doing this can take time.

Perhaps you’ve been working on building a relationship with one of your colleagues for a while, but it hasn’t quite happened.

Then one weekend you have to go on a business trip together. You both do a great job at securing a contract, and you enjoy a nice dinner afterwards, where you talk about future trips and working together more.

That weekend where it all came together? That was when you cemented your relationship.

Since then, you’ve worked with that colleague very well — you’ve got a good working relationship.

When you have different roles in the relationship (like a doctor and a patient, or a parent and a child), it’s common to say the roles before the word relationship.

So, you can talk about a doctor-patient relationship, a parent-child relationship, or a student-teacher relationship.

You can use relationship to talk about how things and people are connected

If a butterfly flaps its wings in Argentina, then Barry forgets to brush his teeth in Dundee.

We all know everyone else in the world through just seven degrees of separation. That means that I know you through (at the most distant) my friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend’s friend.

And let’s not forget: we’re ALL related!

Everything is connected!

But of course, some things are more closely connected than others.

We can use the phrase “relationship between” to describe (or ask about) how (or how closely) two things are connected.

“There’s a very strong relationship between a plant-based diet and a longer life.”

The relationship between punk music and politics is unbreakable!

That’s it — now you should be able to use relation and relationship like a ninja!

But before we finish, can you answer these questions?

  1. Which country enjoys particularly good diplomatic relations with your country?
  2. How do you try to establish a good relationship with people at work?
  3. What’s the relationship between a pencil and a cassette tape?

Answer in the comments!

Also, if you want to help me out and spread the knowledge, please take two seconds to click on that SHARE button!

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You’re about to improve your English family vocabulary. While you’re here, check out 27 Different Ways to Say Thank You (And How to Reply).

You already know some family relationship names in English: mother, father, brother, sister …

But what do you call your father’s sister’s daughter?

And what about your husband’s or wife’s brother?

Read on to learn the answers to these questions plus many more family words in English.

Nuclear Family

Your nuclear family is your immediate family.

Usually, it’s the family who lives together in one house and typically consists of a mother, father and their children.

But as you’ll see, it can get a little more complicated.

Children

Other words for “children”

Kids — This is a more informal and more common word.

Offspring — This one is very technical. It’s the sort of word biologists use when they’re talking about cows or rabbits.

Feel free to use this one ironically, if you like.

If you’re that sort of person.

I am.

Son

Other words for “son”

If a parent has more than one son, they often refer to them collectively as “my boys.”

“Don’t worry about me. My boys will look after me.”

If you want to talk about how many male kids you have, you can either say, for example, “I have two sons,” or “I have two boys.”

Daughter

Other words for “daughter”

You can also talk about “my girls” if you have more than one daughter.

“Have you met my girls? They’re all studying finance. Apart from Celine. She’s working on a time machine these days.”

And you can use “girls” to talk about how many kids someone has:

“She’s got 13 girls and five boys. She must be tired.”

Siblings


Wait! What does it mean?

A sibling is either a brother or sister.

So perhaps you have three brothers and eight sisters.

This means that you have eleven siblings. Which means you spend a lot of money on birthday presents.

Brother

Other words for “brother”

Another word for “brother” is “bro.”

It’s a nice, friendly word, and it shows that you’re close to your brother.

You can also use it with very close male friends to express closeness to them. It’s pretty informal and might make you sound a bit like a Californian surfer, but it’s friendly and fairly common.

“Hey bro! You going to Jasmine’s party tonight?”

If your brother was born on the same day as you (to the same mother), he’s your twin brother.

Sister

Other words for “sister”

We can shorten “sister” to just “sis.”

“Hi, sis! How’s it going?”

If your sister was born on the same day as you (to the same mother), she’s your twin sister.

Talking about older and younger siblings

Some of our brothers and sisters are younger than us, and some of them are older.

There are different ways we can express this.

Let’s imagine you’re like me, and you have an older sister and a younger brother.

OK? So of course you can say, for example, “Katarina’s my older sister.”

But you can also say, “Katarina’s my big sister.”

And what about Paolo?

Well, he’s your younger brother or your little brother.

You can also call him your “baby brother.” This is, of course, a fun way of talking about your younger brother. Don’t use it when you’re filling in a visa form or explaining who he is to the police when you pick him up from the police station.

You can, of course, do this the other way around: older brother, a big brother, a younger sister, a little sister and a baby sister.

Parents

Other words for “parents”

Another word for “parents” is “folks.”

“I’m visiting my folks this weekend.”

Mother

Other words for “mother”

Mum — This is quite informal and quite common. It’s the word I use when I talk about my mum, even if I’m talking to people I don’t know that well.

Mummy — This one is kind of childish and probably best used between a child and her mother. If you’re still using this at the age of 29, some people might consider it a little unusual.

Mom — This is very common in the US but not in the UK or Ireland or Australia … or anywhere else really. But there are a lot of Americans out there, so you might hear this from time to time.

Father

Other words for “father”

Dad — This one is like “mum.” It’s very common and is what most people in my family use. Except for my big brother, who was born in the ‘70s, when it was fashionable to call your parents by their first names. So he just says “Peter.”

Pop — This is only really used in the US. It’s got a nice sound to it, though, hasn’t it?

Pa / papa — A little old fashioned these days, but you still might hear this from time to time.

My old man — Some people refer to their father as “my old man.”

Husband

Other words for “husband”

Hubby — A nice, informal way of talking about your husband.

Wife

Other words for “wife”

I couldn’t think of any other words for “wife.” Certainly not “wifey.” Eugh!

Partner

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

When people talk about their partner, it could be a husband or a wife. But often it signals that these people aren’t married (or sometimes that they don’t feel the gender of their partner is important for the conversation).

Basically, we use it to mean “that person you love and have a relationship with.”

You might even share a toothbrush.

Other words for “partner”

A lot of these are quite romantic …

My other half — Nice, isn’t it?

My better half — Even better! I like using this one.

My significant other — See! Still romantic! Even a little poetic!

(Remember that with the three phrases above, we just say, e.g., “my significant other” or “my better half.” We don’t usually say, “I have a better half.” It sounds like you’re Dr Jekyll.)

Girlfriend / boyfriend — A few generations ago, if you said you had a girlfriend or a boyfriend, people wouldn’t think your relationship was that serious.

These days, that’s not the case as much. If you’re in a serious relationship, and you’re not married, then you can use these words.

Fiancée / fiancé — The person you’ve promised to marry. There’s probably a ring involved.

Notice that this is one of the very unusual situations in English where we have a different spelling for females (fiancée) and males (fiancé).

Spouse — This means husband or wife. It rhymes with “mouse.”

Stepfather / Stepmother / Stepdaughter / Stepson


Wait — what exactly does it mean?

Let’s think about the nice family in the picture above.

Zerin is divorced and has a child, Filiz, from her first marriage.

She’s now married to Alexey, who also has a child from a previous marriage — Val.

So we have a household with four people living in it: Zerin and her daughter, Filiz; and Alexey and his son, Val.

How do we describe their relationships?

Zerin is Val’s stepmother, and Val is Zerin’s stepson.

Meanwhile, Alexey is Filiz’s stepfather, and Filiz is Alexey’s stepdaughter.

Half-brother / half-sister


Wait — what exactly does it mean?

But there’s more!

This family keeps on growing!

Alexey and Zerin have decided to have a kid together. They called her Simone.

OK. So of course Simone is Alexey and Zerin’s daughter.

But how is she related to Filiz and Val? They share one parent but not both parents.

Easy — Simone is their half-sister.

Foster son / Foster daughter / Foster mother / Foster father

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

But this family keeps on growing!

Zerin and Alexey have plenty of time and energy, and they really enjoy looking after people.

They’re happy with their three kids, but they want to help out other kids — kids who don’t have any parents or whose parents can’t look after them.

So they decide to take on a foster son, Desmond.

Having a foster son is usually a temporary situation. They’re not responsible for him for life, but they’ve agreed to look after him until his situation improves or until he can become independent.

You can have a foster son, a foster daughter, a foster mother or a foster father.

Extended Family Uncle

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

An uncle can be one of four people:

  1. Your mother’s brother
  2. Your father’s brother
  3. Your mother’s sister’s husband
  4. Your father’s sister’s husband

A lot of languages have different words for each of these people. But not English — one word for all of these people!

Other uses of “uncle”

Can you remember when you were a kid, and there was this one guy who was always at your house?

And when you went out as a family, he sometimes came with you?

A close friend of your parents who spent a lot of time with you?

When there’s a close family friend like this, it’s common for the kids to call him “uncle Timmy” or “uncle Bernard” or uncle plus whatever his name is.

“We’re going out tonight, but don’t worry — uncle Sammy is going to stay and look after you.”

Aunt

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

Your aunt can be one of four people:

  1. Your mother’s sister
  2. Your father’s sister
  3. Your mother’s brother’s wife
  4. Your father’s brother’s wife

One word for all of them! Efficient, right?

Other words for “aunt”

We can also say “auntie.” It’s closer and less formal.

Other uses of “aunt”

So, we can say “uncle Sammy,” even if Sammy isn’t your real uncle and just a good family friend.

Well, guess what!

You can also say “auntie Olga,” even if Olga is just your parents’ friend. She’s someone you trust like family and enjoy spending time with.

Cousin

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

Your cousin is your uncle and aunt’s child.

In some languages, there are different words depending on which side of the family your cousin is, or whether your cousin is male or female.

Again, this is where English is pretty efficient.

We use one word for all of them!

They are all cousins!

Other words for “cousin”

If you want to be more casual and informal, you can say “cuz.”

“Ben? Oh, he’s my cuz.”

Niece

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You’re about to learn 33 different ways to say “yes” in English. Also check out How to Answer “How Are You?” + 9 Interesting Ways to Ask It.

“Yes” is a lovely word, but there are so many different ways to say “yes.”

So why limit yourself?

Why say “yes” all the time when you can say something like “gladly,” “for sure” or even “be my guest”?

We’re going to look at six situations where you might need to say “yes”:

  1. Say “yes” to a request
  2. Agree with an opinion
  3. Say “yes” to an offer
  4. Confirm a fact
  5. Give permission
  6. Say “yes” to a suggestion

Ways to Say Yes in English #1

Say “Yes” to a Request

One of the most common situations where we use the word “yes” is when someone wants us to do something for them.

Maybe it’s at work:

Or at home:

Or it might be a request from a friend:


Whatever it is, there are loads of different ways you can say “yes” to requests.

No problem

This is the classic!

This is a very common way of saying “yes” to a request. It does a good job of making everything feel under control.

Sure

This one is pretty informal.

Sure thing

This is like “sure,” but a little less formal. It also feels a bit more enthusiastic and gives off a “can-do” positive energy. As a result, it’s pretty popular with Americans.

No worries

This is actually an Australian English expression.

We all know that Australians are well known for having a rather relaxed attitude towards life.

And this expression totally captures that unstressed, chilled-out feeling.

Consider it done

This expression says, “I’m a reliable person! You can count on me!”

When you say this, you come across as an efficient person with your life under control.

I’m on it

This one is quite similar to “consider it done.”

When you use it, you’re saying, “I’m totally capable of this. You don’t need to worry.”

I’d be delighted

OK. This one is quite strong in terms of emotional expression.

It should be a response to a big request — usually one with emotional connections.

So it could work if someone asks you to be the godmother for their child, for example.

But it would sound a bit weird if you’re being asked to take out the rubbish.

I’d love to

This is just like “I’d be delighted.”

So remember to use it for situations that are likely to delight you, like looking after your bosses seaside mansion for a week.

Not cleaning his car.

Unless you like cleaning cars, I guess.

All right

“All right” is a nice, neutral expression.

But be careful because it can sound a bit too uninterested.

So if someone’s asking you to do something big, like look after their pet python for two months while they go on a scuba diving holiday in southern Uruguay, then it might seem like you don’t really care too much.

But it’s fine if they’re asking you to open the window for them.

Fine

Again, this one is very neutral, but it can show a lack of enthusiasm in some situations.

So, like with “all right,” only use it for boring, everyday tasks, otherwise you might seem insincere.

Gladly

This is a little old fashioned and light-hearted.

It’s got a nice, calm and positive feeling to it, though.

By all means

When you use this expression, you’re saying, “I’m really happy to help you, and I’m glad that you asked. I like helping you.”

Of course

Another classic way of saying “yes.”

But you know this one already, right?

Certainly / Definitely

“Certainly” and “definitely” both mean more or less the same thing.

And when you’re using these in answer to a request, they have a similar meaning to “sure” or “sure thing.”

Just a little less informal.

Absolutely

Very similar to “certainly” or “definitely,” but this one is a little more enthusiastic. It shows that you really want to help.

Yep

Informal, familiar and casual.

It can be a nice one to use when you’re with friends and family. It shows familiarity and that you’re comfortable with the other people.

In less casual situations, I’d recommend avoiding it. Just in case.

Yeah

This is basically the same as “yep.”

OK

Another classic!

Interestingly no one really knows where this word came from, though some theories are quite popular.

One theory is that it came from the USA in the 1830s, when it was fashionable to make jokey, misspelt phrases.

One of these was “Orl Korrect” (meaning “all correct”).

For some reason, people thought this sort of thing was hilarious.

Either way, if the theory is true, this phrase is still with us with “OK.”

Ways to Say Yes in English #2

Agree with an Opinion

Sometimes we don’t say “yes” in order to give information to someone.

Sometimes we just want to say, “I agree with you — let’s share this moment.”

It’s less an exchange of information and more of a bonding experience — a process that brings people closer together.

Maybe you want to talk about a person:

Or maybe you want to complain about how terrible the world is:

So true

It means what it says!

When you really, really agree with what someone says (or you want to pretend that you do), then use this!

Indeed

This one also shows strong agreement with someone.

It is — It really is / He does — He really does

This one completely depends on what you’re agreeing on.

So if someone says something like, “He goes a bit weird after too much coffee,” then you can agree with, “He does … he really does!”

Why? Because “He goes …” is in the present simple, so you need to use the correct auxiliary verb in your answer (“does”).

What’s an auxiliary verb?Click for details.

Auxiliary Verbs

You might also know these as “helping verbs.”

In any sentence with a verb in it, the auxiliary is between the subject and the verb.

Usually, you can see it:

He’s eating giraffe soup again.

or

I can see him!

Sometimes you can’t see it, but it’s there:

I live here. – I (do) live here.

or

She met him at an elephant factory. – She (did) meet him at an elephant factory.

The easy way to find the auxiliary? Just use the question form – it’ll be the first word of the question:

Is he eating giraffe soup again?

Can you see him?

Do you live here?

Have they even looked at the report?

Did she meet him at an elephant factory?

If someone says something like, “We’ll never get there on time!” you can agree with “We won’t! We really won’t!”

See how it works?

Uh huh

This is a good little phrase that you can use to show agreement without interrupting the other person.

Technically speaking, these little phrases are called “back channels,” and we use them all the time. Other examples of back channels are “mmm” and “mm-hmm” and “ahhh.”

Next time you’re listening to people speaking English, try listening to the sorts of back channels they use — it’s fun. Everyone uses slightly different ones.

Totally

This one is strong, but when the person you’re agreeing with says something that you really, really agree with, then it’s time to bring out the big guns and use this one.

Absolutely

“Absolutely” is more or less the same as “totally.”

Yep

This one is particularly informal and not very strong.

So use to agree with those little, everyday observations like, “Oh! It’s raining!” or “Titanic was a bit rubbish, wasn’t it?”

Yeah

“Yeah” is just like “yep,” but feels slightly more friendly.

It’s often said that vowels carry the emotion of a phrase or a sentence, while consonants carry the meaning.

So while “yep” has a short vowel sound and feels quite distant, “yeah” has a long vowel sound and can feel more friendly and human.

My thoughts exactly

It’s a nice phrase, isn’t it?

It basically means “I completely agree with you. You’re right! I think exactly the same way as you!”

Which is nice.

Ways to Say Yes in English #3

Say “Yes” to an Offer

We also sometimes want to say “yes” in order to accept an offer.

It might be someone offering you some lovely food:

It could be someone offering you something fun:

Or it could be something ridiculously generous:

For sure!

It’s positive! It’s enthusiastic! It’s friendly!

What’s not to like?

Absolutely

This is also rather friendly and enthusiastic.

Yep

As we discussed earlier, “yep” is fine, but it can be a little distant and unfriendly. But if you’re comfortable with the person you’re talking to, then it’s OK.

Yeah

As I mentioned earlier, “yeah” is similar to “yep,” but is more friendly.

And because of that long vowel sound, you can use it to express more emotions.

OK

Simple and to the point.

I’d love to / I’d love some / I’d love one

This is very enthusiastic and shows that you really appreciate whatever it is that you’ve been offered.

But remember: there are different ways to use it.

If someone is offering something that you can do, like “Do you wanna come to mine next weekend? We can play giraffe tennis,” then you probably want to say, “I’d love to!”

But if they’re offering you something physical (usually something you can have), then you’d say “I’d love some!” (for uncountable things, like carrot cake) or “I’d love one!” (for countable things, like a cup of green tea).

If it’s something very specific, like the only sketch of a dog by Picasso in the world, then you’d need to say “I’d love it!”

Why not?

I like the way this one feels.

It’s like you’re saying, “That’s a good idea! I hadn’t thought of it! Let’s do it!”

Ways to Say Yes in English #4

Confirm a Fact

We also need to say “yes” to let people know that they’ve got something right.

Maybe it’s an interesting fact about yourself:

Or they want to make sure they’ve done something properly:

Or they’re not entirely sure about when you’re planning that massive party on the beach:

That’s right

Simple and to the point!

Correct

Simple, to the point and requires very little effort. It can sound a bit short in some situations.

Yep

We talked about this above. While it’s quite informal, this is not the friendliest phrase. But it’s efficient.

Yeah

Again, this one is like “yep,” but because of the long vowel sound, you can inject more feeling into it.

Try it! There are probably several ways you can say “yeah,” and it could have a slightly different meaning each time depending on how you pronounce the vowel sound (longer, shorter, higher pitched, lower pitched, going up in pitch, going down in pitch, etc.).

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You’re about to improve your English family vocabulary. While you’re here, check out 27 Different Ways to Say Thank You (And How to Reply).

You already know some family relationship names in English: mother, father, brother, sister …

But what do you call your father’s sister’s daughter?

And what about your husband’s or wife’s brother?

Read on to learn the answers to these questions plus many more family words in English.

Nuclear Family

“Nuclear family.”

It’s a strange phrase, isn’t it?

What does it mean?

Your nuclear family is your immediate family.

Usually, it’s the family who lives together in one house and typically consists of a mother, father and their children.

But as you’ll see, it can get a little more complicated.

Children

Other words for “children”

Kids — This is a more informal and more common word.

Offspring — This one is very technical. It’s the sort of word biologists use when they’re talking about cows or rabbits.

Feel free to use this one ironically, if you like.

If you’re that sort of person.

I am.

Son

Other words for “son”

If a parent has more than one son, they often refer to them collectively as “my boys.”

“Don’t worry about me. My boys will look after me.”

If you want to talk about how many male kids you have, you can either say, for example, “I have two sons,” or “I have two boys.”

Daughter

Other words for “daughter”

You can also talk about “my girls” if you have more than one daughter.

“Have you met my girls? They’re all studying finance. Apart from Celine. She’s working on a time machine these days.”

And you can use “girls” to talk about how many kids someone has:

“She’s got 13 girls and five boys. She must be tired.”

Siblings


Wait! What does it mean?

A sibling is either a brother or sister.

So perhaps you have three brothers and eight sisters.

This means that you have eleven siblings. Which means you spend a lot of money on birthday presents.

Brother

Other words for “brother”

Another word for “brother” is “bro.”

It’s a nice, friendly word, and it shows that you’re close to your brother.

You can also use it with very close male friends to express closeness to them. It’s pretty informal and might make you sound a bit like a Californian surfer, but it’s friendly and fairly common.

“Hey bro! You going to Jasmine’s party tonight?”

If your brother was born on the same day as you (to the same mother), he’s your twin brother.

Sister

Other words for “sister”

We can shorten “sister” to just “sis.”

“Hi, sis! How’s it going?”

If your sister was born on the same day as you (to the same mother), she’s your twin sister.

Talking about older and younger siblings

Some of our brothers and sisters are younger than us, and some of them are older.

There are different ways we can express this.

Let’s imagine you’re like me, and you have an older sister and a younger brother.

OK? So of course you can say, for example, “Katarina’s my older sister.”

But you can also say, “Katarina’s my big sister.”

And what about Paolo?

Well, he’s your younger brother or your little brother.

You can also call him your “baby brother.” This is, of course, a fun way of talking about your younger brother. Don’t use it when you’re filling in a visa form or explaining who he is to the police when you pick him up from the police station.

You can, of course, do this the other way around: older brother, a big brother, a younger sister, a little sister and a baby sister.

Parents

Other words for “parents”

Another word for “parents” is “folks.”

“I’m visiting my folks this weekend.”

Mother

Other words for “mother”

Mum — This is quite informal and quite common. It’s the word I use when I talk about my mum, even if I’m talking to people I don’t know that well.

Mummy — This one is kind of childish and probably best used between a child and her mother. If you’re still using this at the age of 29, some people might consider it a little unusual.

Mom — This is very common in the US but not in the UK or Ireland or Australia … or anywhere else really. But there are a lot of Americans out there, so you might hear this from time to time.

Father

Other words for “father”

Dad — This one is like “mum.” It’s very common and is what most people in my family use. Except for my big brother, who was born in the ‘70s, when it was fashionable to call your parents by their first names. So he just says “Peter.”

Pop — This is only really used in the US. It’s got a nice sound to it, though, hasn’t it?

Pa / papa — A little old fashioned these days, but you still might hear this from time to time.

My old man — Some people refer to their father as “my old man.”

Husband

Other words for “husband”

Hubby — A nice, informal way of talking about your husband.

Wife

Other words for “wife”

I couldn’t think of any other words for “wife.” Certainly not “wifey.” Eugh!

Partner

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

When people talk about their partner, it could be a husband or a wife. But often it signals that these people aren’t married (or sometimes that they don’t feel the gender of their partner is important for the conversation).

Basically, we use it to mean “that person you love and have a relationship with.”

You might even share a toothbrush.

Other words for “partner”

A lot of these are quite romantic …

My other half — Nice, isn’t it?

My better half — Even better! I like using this one.

My significant other — See! Still romantic! Even a little poetic!

(Remember that with the three phrases above, we just say, e.g., “my significant other” or “my better half.” We don’t usually say, “I have a better half.” It sounds like you’re Dr Jekyll.)

Girlfriend / boyfriend — A few generations ago, if you said you had a girlfriend or a boyfriend, people wouldn’t think your relationship was that serious.

These days, that’s not the case as much. If you’re in a serious relationship, and you’re not married, then you can use these words.

Fiancée / fiancé — The person you’ve promised to marry. There’s probably a ring involved.

Notice that this is one of the very unusual situations in English where we have a different spelling for females (fiancée) and males (fiancé).

Spouse — This means husband or wife. It rhymes with “mouse.”

Stepfather / Stepmother / Stepdaughter / Stepson


Wait — what exactly does it mean?

Let’s think about the nice family in the picture above.

Zerin is divorced and has a child, Filiz, from her first marriage.

She’s now married to Alexey, who also has a child from a previous marriage — Val.

So we have a household with four people living in it: Zerin and her daughter, Filiz; and Alexey and his son, Val.

How do we describe their relationships?

Zerin is Val’s stepmother, and Val is Zerin’s stepson.

Meanwhile, Alexey is Filiz’s stepfather, and Filiz is Alexey’s stepdaughter.

Half-brother / half-sister


Wait — what exactly does it mean?

But there’s more!

This family keeps on growing!

Alexey and Zerin have decided to have a kid together. They called her Simone.

OK. So of course Simone is Alexey and Zerin’s daughter.

But how is she related to Filiz and Val? They share one parent but not both parents.

Easy — Simone is their half-sister.

Foster son / Foster daughter / Foster mother / Foster father

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

But this family keeps on growing!

Zerin and Alexey have plenty of time and energy, and they really enjoy looking after people.

They’re happy with their three kids, but they want to help out other kids — kids who don’t have any parents or whose parents can’t look after them.

So they decide to take on a foster son, Desmond.

Having a foster son is usually a temporary situation. They’re not responsible for him for life, but they’ve agreed to look after him until his situation improves or until he can become independent.

You can have a foster son, a foster daughter, a foster mother or a foster father.

Extended Family Uncle

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

An uncle can be one of four people:

  1. Your mother’s brother
  2. Your father’s brother
  3. Your mother’s sister’s husband
  4. Your father’s sister’s husband

A lot of languages have different words for each of these people. But not English — one word for all of these people!

Other uses of “uncle”

Can you remember when you were a kid, and there was this one guy who was always at your house?

And when you went out as a family, he sometimes came with you?

A close friend of your parents who spent a lot of time with you?

When there’s a close family friend like this, it’s common for the kids to call him “uncle Timmy” or “uncle Bernard” or uncle plus whatever his name is.

“We’re going out tonight, but don’t worry — uncle Sammy is going to stay and look after you.”

Aunt

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

Your aunt can be one of four people:

  1. Your mother’s sister
  2. Your father’s sister
  3. Your mother’s brother’s wife
  4. Your father’s brother’s wife

One word for all of them! Efficient, right?

Other words for “aunt”

We can also say “auntie.” It’s closer and less formal.

Other uses of “aunt”

So, we can say “uncle Sammy,” even if Sammy isn’t your real uncle and just a good family friend.

Well, guess what!

You can also say “auntie Olga,” even if Olga is just your parents’ friend. She’s someone you trust like family and enjoy spending time with.

Cousin

Wait — what exactly does it mean?

Your cousin is your uncle and aunt’s child.

In some languages, there are different words depending on which side of the family your cousin is, or whether your cousin is male or female.

Again, this is where English is pretty efficient.

We use one word for all of them!

They are all cousins!

Other words for “cousin”

If you want to be more casual and informal, you can say “cuz.”

“Ben? Oh, he’s my cuz.”

Niece

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2019 is here!

And what better way to celebrate than by looking back on 2018 and checking out the 10 best Clark and Miller lessons?

Top lesson #1

We all get it.

That horrible feeling when you sit in front of your laptop to do some serious studying.

You open it, turn it on, open up your internet browser.

Then … nothing!

You don’t know where to go to get some serious English learning done (apart from Clark and Miller, of course).

It happens a lot, right?

Well, don’t worry! Here are seven great English learning websites to get you started.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #2

Yes, yes, I know — phrasal verbs can be a serious pain in the neck.

I mean, how can adding “up” (which means “in the direction of the sky”) to “give” mean “quit”?

It makes no sense!

Whoever invented them should be taken to Florida and forced to watch Mickey Mouse dance for eight hours a day — or some other sort of terrible punishment.

But there’s good news: in some phrasal verbs, the prepositions actually mean something.

Once you’ve learned these prepositions and what they mean, you’ll be able to add hundreds of phrasal verbs to your vocabulary — and guess the meaning of some phrasal verbs without a dictionary.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #3

“What on earth is a binomial?” you may or not be saying now.

Good question.

Binomials are very common in English.

They’re also quite easy to remember, they help you sound more natural and they can help you express yourself more smoothly.

You probably already know a few binomials: “black and white,” “rock n’ roll,” “salt and pepper.”

So dive into this fun, rhythmic side of English and learn the most commonly used binomials.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #4

Sure — we can all count to 10, 100, even a thousand or a million.

But wait a second — can you really? What about 1,008? 112,074,666?

And can you say temperatures, times, prices, numbers as slang, 24-hour time, decimals, ordinal numbers, fractions, dimensions, speeds and years correctly?

This lesson covers (just about) everything you’ll need to talk about numbers in English.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #5

We’re all complex, interesting, emotionally diverse creatures.

And this is reflected in how we express ourselves with nothing more than the power of the face!

Facial expressions are an essential part of living together and describing how people react.

Here are some of the most common facial expressions in English — as well as some useful advanced ones.

Oh, and 27 pictures of me and my face doing different things.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #6

You’re at a foreign friend’s house. You’re helping out with the dinner, and you need to ask your friend where this is:

And you realise you don’t know what on earth this is in English.

Then you need to find this:

And you don’t know that, either.

And then you realise you don’t know half the kitchen vocabulary in English.

How did it come to this?

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #7

If I asked you the question, “What does ‘will’ mean?” what would your answer be?

Most people, including people from the UK, would probably say something like, “We use ‘will’ when we want to talk about the future.”

Hmm …

Really?

It’s true we use “will” for predictions. Sometimes.

But most of the time, “will” doesn’t really represent the future.

In this lesson, find out how we use “will” for all sorts of different things, from habits to calculations.

You’ll love it.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #8

A clock is a circle.

And a box is a cube.

OK. That’s all easy.

But what about a ball?

Or your mouse pad?

Or a candle?

Shapes are another example of everyday vocabulary that a lot of English coursebooks don’t cover.

This lesson covers most shapes and how to use them as nouns and adjectives.

It also shows you how you can describe complex objects.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #9

This is another thing that everyone thinks they can do — but often can’t.

It’s surprising how weirdly complicated it is just to say an email address or a website address.

Sure, you can say your email address in a way that YOU can understand, but can you say it to someone on the phone and be sure that the other person has written EVERY LETTER AND SYMBOL correctly?

Getting the right vocabulary is one thing.

But there are some useful strategies for making sure that you’re giving someone your company website address and not a link to the International Sandwich Fans website.

Although, that actually might be worth a visit, come to think of it.

Click here for the lesson.

Top lesson #10

So what’s wrong with these conversations?

“Hey, Riza. Here’s your coffee.”
“Thank you.”

“If you like, I can look after the kids for you this weekend, Riza.”
“Thank you.”

“Hey, look! I’ve just saved you from falling into the shark tank!”
“Thank you.”

Yep — Riza says the same thing again and again and again.

Don’t be like Riza!

Click here for the lesson.

OK. There we have it — the best of 2018.

Before we dive deep into this lovely, fresh new year, can you answer these questions?

Can you …

  1. Name three facial expressions in English?
  2. Say these numbers: £28.99; 188,198,023; 4 ½ km
  3. Say your email address in English?
  4. Guess the meaning of a new phrasal verb — without looking it up in the dictionary?
  5. Name the kitchen item you use to move soup from the pot to the bowls?
  6. Name the shape of a candle? A ball?
  7. Say thank you in three different ways?

Did you like this post? Then be awesome and share by clicking the blue button below.

The post Excellent English 2019: 10 Popular Lessons from Clark and Miller appeared first on Clark and Miller.

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