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Talking about emotions

In case you didn't already know, May is National Mental Health month, so I thought I'd write up a post on emotions and how to talk about them! How do you usually respond to the question, "how are you"? Most of us automatically just say, "I'm fine thanks, and you?" Of course, not every situation is a situation to open up about how you're really feeling, but keep reading for some vocabulary for when you do need to talk about your feelings in English!


Just a bit of grammar

In English, we use two verbs to refer to our feelings: the verb to be and the verb to feel. The latter can be used in the present simple or the present continuous, while to be is only ever used in the present simple.

I am: happy, sad, excited, angry, hungry*, hot/cold*

I feel/I'm feeling: great, tired, sick, relaxed

*always with the verb to be, never with to have!

Something else to keep in mind is the fact that in English, some adjectives (used to talk about feelings) have two possible endings: -ed and -ing. Let's see some examples, and how they are different.

She's bored - right now, in the moment, she is feeling bored. This is a temporary feeling that will pass.

She's boring - her personality is boring, this is not a feeling but a [permanent] characteristic of her personality.

As you can see, to talk about your feelings, you must always use the form of the adjective that ends in -ed. Here are some examples of adjectives that have both possible endings: tired, excited, amazed, bored, interested, worried, stressed, disappointed, scared, annoyed, relaxed...there are more, but these are some of the most common.


Now some vocabulary!


Definition and use

​To be on cloud nine

To be on top of the world

​To be extremely happy

I'm on cloud nine, I've just received a promotion at work!

To be down in the dumps

To feel blue

To be sad or upset

He's down in the dumps because he failed his maths exam.

To see red

To be very angry

When she told me they had cancelled my appointment, I saw red.

​To be/feel under the weather

To be/feel sick

I'm feeling under the weather, I think I'll stay home from work today.

For an extra bonus, you can download this PDF if you want to level up your vocabulary and start sounding even more like a native English speaker!


So remember this month (and always) that under the response, "I'm fine thanks, and you?", perhaps the other person isn't really fine, so always try to be patient with your classmates, colleagues, friends and family, even when it isn't easy!



  • to open up [about something]: to talk freely about something

  • latter: a formal way of referring to the last thing in a list

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