making excuses in English

How to ‘pull a sickie’ in English

Let’s be honest – Sometimes you just really don’t want to go out.
It’s pouring with rain, you’re exhausted, you don’t feel like getting dressed up! You just want to lie in bed, have a cuppa and read your book. But obviously you can’t say that to your friends! You’re going to have to give a better reason for skipping the party. So you need some language for making excuses in English:

There’s some great English vocabulary to describe this situation. PULL A SICKIE or GET OUT OF SOMETHING are my two favourites. Have you ever pulled a sickie? Do you often try to get out of social events?

You can use illness as an excuse:

Sorry, I’m not going to make it to the party……

I’ve got a splitting headache and I feel really dizzy.

I think I’ve got food poisoning. I’ve been throwing up all day.

I’ve got some kind of tummy bug and I’ve spent all day in the bathroom.

I’m full of cold and my throat is killing me. I wouldn’t want to pass it on to anyone there.

Or you can use a practical problem:

Sorry, I’m not going to make it for lunch today……

Our boiler is broken so we’ve got no heating or hot water. I need to wait in for the repair man..

My car has broken down so I can’t get there..

Look at the English vocabulary in BOLD. Do you know what it means? Write any useful vocabulary or sentences in your notebook!

By the way, if you really are ill, you can find some more useful language by clicking here!

So, in your opinion, which of the above excuses works best for ‘pulling a sickie’?! Do you think you would be good at making excuses in English?! Let me know in the comments 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!

4 thoughts on “How to ‘pull a sickie’ in English

  1. Thanks to you for encouraging me to write this block.

    I have been studying post-graduation in organic chemistry. Most of the time I have faced critical problems during practical. occasionally I feel annoyed moment for this situation and I feel like to leave study.

    1. I’m so happy that you took the plunge and wrote on here Quraish, I know it can be a bit scary, well done! But I’m sorry to hear that you are not enjoying every part of your course. I hope that situation gets better for you soon. Let me know how it works out, Nicki

  2. Hello dear teacher,

    I am glad to hear news from you.
    About excuses:
    I like to go to the parties because I attend a choir and play folk dances.
    But I have a big “problem” when i have to choice between two parties at the same time.
    Then i decide to go to the more interesting party for me and say to another:
    Sorry I cannot come because I am full of cold and my throat is killing me /softly/.
    I would not want to pass it on to anyone there.
    Let me be honest I pull a sickie.
    About Printerest:
    I am registered but I am not succeeding to follow everything there. You are the best teacher.

    I am looking forward

    1. I love your response to this blog post Kalinka (it sounds like you have a busy social life!) You have understood ‘pulling a sickie’ exactly and your illness excuses are really great, such natural examples – I would totally believe you 😉
      I hope you find some useful stuff on Pinterest but if not, you can just enjoy your weekly emails from me 🙂 Thanks for your kind words!
      PS just one little thing to remember – choose (verb) choice (noun) so ‘I have to choose’ but the rest of your message was perfect!

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.