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Add to Your Vocabulary: Feelings

Updated: Feb 21

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Introduction - add feelings to your vocabulary

In this article, I will continue to focus on the vocabulary that is around you.

They are the words you use (or need to know to use) in your everyday life, your immediate experience.

It is better to know these everyday words than waste time learning words that you will rarely use.

This article will concentrate on feelings.

What are feelings?

Feelings are the emotions you have; how you feel mentally. But they can be physical feelings too such as joy or pain.

There are positive as well as negative emotions.,

And it follows that feelings can also be negative and positive.

My Chinese students always gave positive feelings when asked how they were. I found this interesting as well as perplexing.

Didn't they ever feel bad?

When asked, everyone claimed they were “fine, thank you, and you?”

No matter if they felt ‘terrible’, they would always say they were “fine”.

It is because, in Chinese, the standard response to ‘how are you’ is ‘fine’ (in Chinese).

In an exam, no other responses, especially negative ones, appear to be acceptable.

Negative and positive feelings

So, let me introduce the negative and positive feelings now.

And, as I did in the previous article, we need to organize the new vocabulary.

Remember, it will be a ‘work in progress’.

As you discover new ‘feeling’ words you will be adding them to the appropriate categories.

Positive feelings

Let’s start with positive responses to the question: “How are you?”

“I am/I’m (feeling) …………..”

You could say:

Fine, good, okay, not bad, well, very well

 really good, really well, pretty good, fairly good

wonderful, terrific, fantastic, brilliant, great, really great etc.

Using 'fine' as a response

I do want to say something about using ‘fine’.

Saying you are ‘fine’ can be a ‘conversation stopper’.

It can be useful if you are in a hurry, or busy, and don’t have time to talk.

It is polite enough, but it signals to the asker of the question that you are busy. That is, if the questioner takes the cue/gets the message that you have no time to talk.

If you mentioned that you were not feeling well, then a conversation would begin.

You would have to explain why you were not well - and remember you are in a hurry. You do not have the time.

So, you are basically ‘lying’ a little to get out of an extended/longer conversation.

You might be forced to give away personal details of your illness. And you might not want to do that.

Of course, you might welcome a chat about your illness, but only if you realise you have the time to do so.

Negative feelings

Again, let us begin with the question “How are you?” and your response: “I’m / I am ……”

This time we need words that express negative feelings:

Choose words such as:

 not good, not well, not feeling good/well, not feeling very well

/not feeling very good, not the best, terrible, horrible, ill, sick etc.

And many more that you will think of.

A word of warning

Be careful with words that describe how you might be feeling with anyone in authority.

These people might be your employer for example, or people you might want not to offend.

Avoid using rude, vulgar words and phrases such as: shitty,

'Feel like shit', 'feel like crap', etc. also fall into this category.

Use them only with close friends whom you would not offend.

A different way to say how you feel

There is another category of feeling words and phrases that do not exactly explain how you feel.

Yet they convey to the questioner that you are not feeling well. You could say “Oh, don’t ask” or “You don’t want to know!”

So far, I have explained the feelings that help you respond to the general question: “How are you?”

But there are:

Other words to describe mental feelings







scared, frightened





loathsome/ loathing





sadness/sad, upset



calm, relaxed



nervous, desperation/desperate



busy / rushed etc.

And there are hundreds more that you could come up with.

Of course, the words and phrases I have listed are a mixture of mental and physical feelings. But that is how we describe our feelings in our conversations and in our writing.

Words to describe Physical Feelings

These include:


freezing, boiling

hurting, sore, aching


speechless (lost for words)

dry, parched

wet, damp, soaked etc.

And again, the list of words is many.


So, there you have it; a range of feelings to describe how you might ‘feel’.

Try to use them in your conversations or writing.

And always look out for new 'feelings' words not included here to add to your English vocabulary.

Further Reading

Collecting new vocabulary is a useful thing to do if you are trying to improve your English.

© Apex English Tutoring Dec 2020 - Updated January 2024

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About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

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