Develop your vocabulary - feelings

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

In this, the second article to develop your vocabulary, I will restate that this series will focus on the vocabulary that is around you, the words you use (or need to know to use) in your everyday life, your immediate experience. If you have not already, read this article.

I believe it is much more important to know these everyday words than waste time learning words that you will rarely use.

This article will concentrate on feelings.

Feelings are the emotions you have. But they can be physical feelings too.

There are positive as well as negative emotions, and

it follows that feelings can also be negative and positive.

I found it interesting, as well as perplexing, that my Chinese students were taught mainly positive feelings, especially when asked how they were.

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

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

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

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 – and 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) …………..”

Fine, good, okay, not bad, well, very well, really good, really well, pretty good, fairly good, wonderful, terrific, fantastic, brilliant, great, really great etc.

I do want to say something about using ‘fine’. Saying you are ‘fine’ can be a ‘conversation stopper’ and can be useful if you are in a hurry, or busy, and don’t have time to talk further, 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 the 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 in which 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 such as: not good, not well, not feeling good/well, not feeling very well/very good, not the best, terrible, horrible, ill, sick etc. And many more that you will think of.

Controversially, some words that describe how you might be feeling perhaps should not be used with anyone in authority, your employer for example, or people you might want not to offend.

Crude, vulgar words and phrases such as: really shitty,

feel like shit, feel like crap, etc. fall into this category and should be used only with close friends who would not be offended.

Now there is another category of feeling words and phrases that do not exactly explain how you feel yet convey to the questioner that you are not feeling good. You could say “Oh, don’t ask” or “you (really) don’t want to know!”

So far, I have explained the positive and negative feelings

that help you respond to the general question: “How are you?”

But there are other feelings.

Other feelings

Shame/ashamed, guilt/guilty, innocence/innocent, shyness/shy, confidence/confident, confusion/confused, scared, frightened, love/loving, affection/affectionate, like/liking, hate/hating, loathsome/

loathing, bravery/brave, heroic, cowardice/cowardly, jealousy/jealous, happiness/happy, sadness/sad, upset, paranoia/paranoid, anger/angry, calm, relaxed, nervous, desperation/desperate, loneliness/lonely, busy, boredom/bored/lazy, busy, rushed etc. and 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.

Other physical feelings include hot/cold, freezing, boiling, hurting, sore, aching, numb, speechless, (lost for words), dry, parched, wet, damp, soaked etc.


So, there you have it; a range of feelings to describe how you ‘feel’. Try to use them in your conversations or writing. And always look out for new feelings not included here to add to your vocabulary.

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