Talking About General Pains And Aches

Here are some common expressions that you can use to describe general aches and pains.

General aches and pains

  • I’m not feeling very well.
  • I think I’m going down with a cold. I’ve got a sore throat.
  • I’ve got a slight headache/ toothache / stomach ache / backache.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • I’m not sleeping very well at the moment.
  • I feel a little faint.
  • I’ve got a nagging pain in my shoulder.
  • I’ve got a splitting headache.
  • I feel fine.
  • I always feel sleepy on Mondays.
  • I have a bit of a stomach bug.
  • I think I’ve got a bit of a temperature. Why don’t you go home and have a lie-down?
  • I am not feeling well. I must get some rest.
  • I’ve got a nasty cough.
  • You don’t look very well. What happened? I have a touch of flu.
  • You look a little pale.

Grammar Notes

To talk about feelings that are going on at a particular moment, simple or progressive forms can be used.

  • I feel fine. OR I am feeling fine.
  • How do you feel? OR How are you feeling?

Ill and sick

Ill is often used to mean unwell in British English. In American English ill is unusual except in a formal style. Note that we use ill after a verb.

  • She is ill.

In Attributive position (before a noun), many British people prefer to use sick. Sick is also the normal informal American word for unwell.

  • The President is sick.

Be sick can mean vomit.

  • I was sick three times in the night.
  • She is never sea-sick.
  • I feel sick. Where is the bathroom?

Uncountable nouns

The names of illnesses are usually uncountable in English, including those ending in -s.

  • If you have already had measles, you cannot get it again.
  • There is a lot of flu around at the moment.

The can be used informally before the names of some common illnesses such as the measles, the flu; others have no article.

  • I think I have got (the) measles.
  • Have you had chickenpox?

Minor ailments

The words for some minor ailments are countable: e.g. a cold, a sore throat, a headache. However, toothache, earache, stomach-ache and backache are more often uncountable in British English. In American English, these words are generally countable.

  • I have got a horrible cold.
  • Have you got a headache?
  • I am getting toothache. (GB)
  • I am getting a toothache. (US)
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Manjusha Nambiar

I am the founder and editor of http://www.perfectyourenglish.com, http://www.ielts-practice.org, and http://ncertguides.com

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