How to talk about illness in English

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In this article, we’re going to learn key English phrases so you can talk about sickness.

You’ll learn some key differences between British and American English, the difference between sore and ache, and a fantastic idiom to use when you’re in pain.


Key Phrases

The most common ways to say that you are sick are:

  • I don’t feel very well
  • I feel sick
  • I’m sick

To give it more emphasis, you can say: I feel terrible today.

Have a Cold / I’ve Got a Cold

There is a difference here:

  • I have a cold (more common in American English)
  • I’ve got a cold (more common in British English)

Ache vs Sore

We use ache with our head, stomach, and teeth:

  • I’ve got a headache
  • I’ve got a stomach ache (or stomachache)

Sore is more common and is used for your neck, back, throat, and muscles.

  • I’ve got a really sore back today
  • I’ve got such a sore throat

It’s Killing Me

  • My neck is killing me today!
  • My back is killing me!

Temperature vs Fever

Again, we have a difference between British and American English here.

  • My son has a temperature today (British)
  • My son has a fever today (American)

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