phrases for talking about illness

How to say you feel ill in English

Did you know that, generally, British people don’t like to disturb the doctor unless they are at death’s door?! We tend to just take a couple of paracetamol and ‘soldier on’. We  also don’t like to bother anyone else with our illness so these are the English phrases we might use if someone asks if we’re ok:

English phrases for talking about illness

Ooh, you sound poorly.

Oh I’m fine, just a bit under the weather.

Wow, you sound rough!

Oh, it’s just a cough. I’ll live!

Oh, poor you. You sound awful!

You mean my cold? It’s nothing a good night’s sleep won’t fix.

Are you alright?

Yeah yeah, it’s just the sniffles.

Ooh, you should go home and rest.

Oh no. I’ll be fine once the paracetamol kicks in!

Practise these English phrases for talking about illness

These are all typical ‘real English’ responses. If you can, practise the mini-dialogues above with a willing partner. Person A should be very worried and use a sympathetic tone of voice. Person B should be ‘brave and uncomplaining’! Then you will sound like a native English speaker!
Of course, if you want to take a day off work (skive or pull a sickie as we say), you would use very different English vocabulary 🙂 Find out how to do that by clicking here!

When was the last time you were ill? Are you the type of person to complain or ‘soldier on’? Let me know by writing a sentence in the comment box below 🙂


Published by


Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

6 thoughts on “How to say you feel ill in English

  1. Hi Nicky, it’s so helpful for me and no shame on speaking in English. Thanks for your help. God bless you!!

    1. You’re very welcome Peter! I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

  2. Hi Nicky
    I was watching your post ” How to say you feel in english” It is really good because
    i was wrong, i though that just it had few expresion to say ill in english.
    What a sorprise for me, for instant:
    Oh, poor you. You sound awful!
    You mean my cold? It’s nothing a good night’s sleep won’t fix.

    Thanks a lot Nicky..I apreciate your marvelous help!

    Someday when i was in the work in shift at night, soddenly I´ve got a cold and i felt not too good, so i went to the doctor, i´ve got a terrible headache and getting worts.
    The doctor gave me a pills and then i becoming feel better.

    I hope you like my experience of to be ill.


    1. I’m so pleased you had a go at writing about your last illness Jimy (I’m going to send you some corrections via email). There are SO many ways to talk about illness in English and I’m glad you could learn a few more from my article 🙂

  3. Ooh, I learn more and more from your help.thanks ..

Leave a comment and Nicki will personally reply (your email address won't be shown)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.