Articles, Blog

Sickness and Illness vocabulary in British and American English

January 16, 2020

Do you have a fever, stuffiness, sore throat? It’s cold season again. Have you protected yourself against this year’s
germs? Atchoo! Are you ready to fight against coughs and
sneezes? Atchoo! Nothing protects you from a cold like a big
steel pan. And when you’re all done your steel pan
rinses clean. Call or go online to get your big steel pan
today. Hi everyone I’m Vicki and I’m British. And I’m Jay and I’m American and today
we have a vocabulary lesson. We’re going to show you lots words and expressions
we use to talk about common illnesses and sickness in English. And there are some words that we say differently
in British and American English. We’ll tell you about them too. Where shall we begin? Oh. Let’s start with the commercial. Do you have a fever, stuffiness, sore throat? I don’t want to get into another elevator
with someone like you there. Yeah, I had a bad cold, or the flu. With a cold you feel ill for a few days. But the flu is more serious. You might need to spend a week in bed. Flu is short for influenza. In British English we can say ‘He has the
flu’ or ‘He has flu’. Both are correct and common. But notice we always say ‘a’ with ‘ a
cold’. He has a cold. American English is a little different because
we say ‘the’ with flu. ‘He has the flu’. But colds are the same. We use ‘a’. And we can use ‘a’ with other symptoms. He has a sore throat. He has a fever. Your throat is a passage inside your neck. And if it’s sore it’s painful. It can hurt to swallow if you have a sore
throat. A fever is an interesting word because we
can use it in British English but I’d normally say ‘He has a temperature’. And a temperature means a high temperature. Yeah. When I first came to the US, the doctors would
ask, ‘Do you have a fever?’ and I didn’t know what to say because I associate a fever
with a very, very high temperature, like if you have malaria or something really serious. A fever just means a body temperature of say
101° Fahrenheit or more. He means 38°Celcius. So high, but not life threatening. Another cold symptom is stuffiness – a stuffy
nose. It’s when your nose is blocked and you can’t
breathe easily. Congestion is the formal word, but normally
we say ‘I’m stuffed up’. And in British English we can also say ‘I’m
bunged up’. It’s means my nose is blocked. And what’s the opposite? It’s having a runny nose. Oh it’s the same in American English. If it’s runny, mucus is coming out. Mucus is the formal word. The informal word is snot. Yeah. Snot is not a very polite word
It’s not?! But we say it. Let’s see some more of the commercial. It’s cold season again. Have you protected yourself against this year’s
germs? You were dangerous with all those coughs and
sneezes. Yeah, I was spreading germs there. Germs are very small living things that can
make you ill – like bacteria or viruses. We should cover our mouth when we cough .
Jay, what are you doing wearing a face mask? There are a lot of bugs going around. I don’t want to get sick. And gloves too. Yes, I don’t want to pick up any germs. Would you like some? No thanks. You were being very careful there. Well, there were a lot of bugs going around. A bug is an illness that people can catch
very easily from one other. And ‘going around’ means spreading from
one person to another. Bugs aren’t nice, but they’re not usually
serious. We could say ‘I have a flu bug’, or ‘I
have a stomach bug’. If you have a stomach bug, you might feel
nauseous. You mean nauseous. No. Nauseous. Nauseous. OK. There’s a pronunciation difference here. If you feel nauseous, you feel like you’re
going to throw up. To throw up is when your food comes back up. BLAH. A more formal term is to vomit, but in everyday
conversation we usually say something like throw up. We have lots of other ways to say it. To vomit. To throw up. To puke. To barf. To be sick. To hurl. To do the technicolour yawn.
to lose your lunch. I want to test the British expression there. If I say ‘I was sick’, what does it mean
to you? Oh. It means you weren’t well. Perhaps you had a fever or a cold or something. OK, in British English it could mean that
but often it means I threw up. That’s interesting. If I feel nauseous, I could say I’m going
to be sick. So like British English. Well no, because I’d only say it just before
it happens. Like ‘Pull the car over, I’m going to
be sick’. And then after you’re sick? I’d say I threw up. I wouldn’t say I was sick. And what do you call the stuff that comes
out of your mouth? Vomit. I’d usually call it sick. In American English we use sick to talk about
feeling generally unwell, so not just nauseous. We can do that too, but we use the word ill
a little more than you. So often I’ll say someone is ill when Jay
will say they’re sick. We mean the same thing. For me, ill is a little more formal than sick. And if someone is ill, it’s probably more
long term and serious. OK, another symptom of a stomach bug is diarrhoea. Are we going to talk about that? Yeah, it’s a useful word to know. Diarrhoea is when you go to the toilet and
… You mean the bathroom
And your poo is watery. We have a few other ways to describe that
too. I have diarrhea. I have the runs. I have the trots. I have an upset stomach. My stomach is acting up
OK. What’s the opposite of diarrhoea? It’s constipation. Constipation is when you can’t do a poo
or it’s very hard. Enough! Can we go back to the commercial now. OK. Are you ready to fight against coughs and
sneezes? Nothing protects you from a cold like a big
steel pan. How’s your head? Terrible! I’ve got a headache now. Headache. An ache is similar to a pain. Parts of our body can ache. So ache can be a noun and a verb in English. We have five main aches and Jay will now demonstrate
them for you. Really? Yes. I have a headache. I have backache. I have earache. I have stomach ache. I have toothache. Good job. Thanks. Notice that we have to say ‘a’ when we’re
talking about a headache. With earache, toothache and stomachache and
backache it’s optional. And there’s also another word you’ll hear
for stomach ache: tummy ache. Tummy is another word for stomach and we often
use it when we talk to children. We might also say I have indigestion. Indigestion can give us stomach ache or tummy
ache. Great. Are we finished? Nearly. But there’s one more thing that’s useful
to know. What’s that? If someone sneezes, what do we say? Oh yes! It’s polite to say ‘bless you’. It’s not a religious expression. It’s just something we say to acknowledge
that someone sneezed. Atchoo! Bless you! Thanks. Knock knock. Who’s there. Atch. Atch who? Bless you! Argh! And that’s it! Now you know how to describe lots of common
illnesses in English. If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share
it with a friend. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Stay healthy everyone! See you all next week. Bye-bye. Bye.


  • Reply Hofnar Lia February 2, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    I am from Romania and I love your lessons🤗🤗🤗

  • Reply FACT FACTORY February 2, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    The only channel that reads all the coments 🙂 ! I like the kind of humor in this channel! Thank you! 🙂

  • Reply Javi Fontalva February 2, 2019 at 9:25 pm


  • Reply Itz_Me! February 2, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Steel pan hmm….

    OK I'll get one! 😊😊😊

  • Reply Francis February 3, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Hey you two, I'm Brazilian and I find both american and brittish english beautiful. I've been learning english for a while, the video helped me a lot, Thank you so much!

  • Reply Statia Manger February 3, 2019 at 12:14 am


  • Reply Choey Kheng February 3, 2019 at 12:30 am

    Hi Vicky and Jay. Another great video again! This is really helpful in our daily usage of the language. You did mention that the article a or an is optional for aches except headache and toothache. How about in written English? Thank you and take care.

  • Reply Choey Kheng February 3, 2019 at 12:30 am

    Hi Vicky and Jay. Another great video again! This is really helpful in our daily usage of the language. You did mention that the article a or an is optional for aches except headache and toothache. How about in written English? Thank you and take care.

  • Reply Ron A. Aguilar February 3, 2019 at 2:17 am

    you're simply THE BEST!

  • Reply Ian James February 3, 2019 at 3:08 am

    I feel nauseous after watching this! Haha

  • Reply Haider Aliraqi February 3, 2019 at 5:13 am

    Thank you so much.I got some question please:
    *Would it be acceptable If I used ralph as a synonym of throw up like saying I ralphed up my lunch?
    *When I got conspitation could I say I'm constipated, use it as an adjective?
    *If I had that feeling like there's a sour or acidic stuff inside my stomach, what would we call that ?

  • Reply Gabriel Solis February 3, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Soy Americano tambien , un Americano del sur ( sudamerica )

  • Reply nguyen nguyen duc February 3, 2019 at 6:09 am

    please make a video about ingredients and food vocabulary. 🙂

  • Reply Elif Aktaş February 3, 2019 at 6:27 am

    The moment you hit him with a pan was horrendous.

  • Reply Camila p February 3, 2019 at 6:32 am

    You two are so sweet, I wish you were my grandparents.

  • Reply Ahmed Shalaby February 3, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    This week's video is SUPER! I've watched it several times… I'll recommend it to my students; it really helps in this seasons when many of them are absent from classes because of different illnesses 🙂 A BIG thank you, Vicki and Jay!

  • Reply Silvio Martins February 3, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Vish Maria

  • Reply RayPosSiable February 3, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Hai. Could you do an Effect and Affect video? I can’t seem to understand when to use either. Thank you

  • Reply xnx. February 3, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    so interest videos

  • Reply Rasha Yousry February 3, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Fantastic, my English level doesn't help me to express how I love you both and how I am benefited by your vedios, it is an incredible lesson.

  • Reply Der BuddelTitan February 3, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Where I can get this special pan? 😂😜

  • Reply Zeta0527 February 3, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Love all of your videos!
    It's just so clear and cute for people who are learning English 😻

  • Reply Jean Faljan February 4, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    I love their smile 😀

  • Reply Sharmila Gadkar February 4, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    I wonder will you make a video on how to pronounce country names?😅

  • Reply Tayeb lbsg February 4, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Your videos are cool can you subscribe pls ?

  • Reply The Artemisfly February 4, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks a lot for this! Tiny question: what is the background music after 9:23? A friend of mine and I know but we can't remember the title…

  • Reply Diaa Elsayyad February 4, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    Great teachers.

  • Reply Eff С February 5, 2019 at 7:44 am

    Ah, you're great, guys! )))
    We llllove you )

  • Reply Pocaripo February 5, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    I love this!! Learn and have some jokes. Very Enjoy it

  • Reply Positive Sharing February 5, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    You are very cute.😁😁 you are make me remember my grandpa and grandma😂 always happy.

    I love this channell!!

  • Reply Bao Bao February 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    I'am subcribe your channel today. Because recommended by my friends . And i feel enjoy to learn english. Love you❤💕💕

  • Reply Luc Landry Alogo February 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for the rich vocabulary. Could you please tel me whether there's any difference between sickness and illness?

  • Reply Adrian Diaz February 5, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I speak english but i wish i had found this channel long time ago..i came here just for curiosity however i'll recommend it to my peeps ..keep it up guys!

  • Reply Anna M February 5, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    I love you both!

  • Reply Bassam salim February 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Who else is watching this while having a flu?!

  • Reply Evan Zhuno February 5, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    I used to say "I'm in fever" but then one of my American friends corrected me, but if I'm not wrong, I had learnt it from my English school (I studied British English), could you please tell me if that expression is correct or I should just say "I have a temperature". Thanks for the vids, you're a wonderful couple. Cheers!

  • Reply The xMeckZz February 5, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    What about potatoes

  • Reply marilena0357 February 6, 2019 at 1:15 pm


  • Reply DTM February 6, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Oh this pretty smile!

  • Reply Jxnw158 4 February 6, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Your videos are swesome,
    greetings from Cologne (thats a great city in Germany if you dont know)

  • Reply Lenovo Algeria February 6, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    very sweet couple, keep up granmpas

  • Reply Sarita Kumari February 7, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Make a Video on Use of Has/have / had 🙊

  • Reply Andrés Viteri Naranjo February 7, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Great video class, I enjoyed it a lot … Thank you 😉 (Y)

  • Reply Salomão Henrique February 7, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    Hahaha great video

  • Reply Rewad Sultanov February 8, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Can you speak more slowly,please?

  • Reply Rewad Sultanov February 8, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Thanks for video:)

  • Reply Nu mai sunt aici dar nu îmi șterg canalul February 8, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    We all know that you and Jay are American and British. But please include a australian.

  • Reply Димитър Димов February 8, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    When you upload a video ?

  • Reply HISTORIA February 8, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    1K like and 1dis😨
    Very good result!😊

  • Reply Nur Baiti - Hikaru February 9, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    I like this video. Funny. 😅😄

  • Reply Flavio Pessato February 12, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Simple but great. Excellent job. Funny and motivating. I'm a teacher and I see the joy of teaching in your eyes. This usually corresponds to joy of learning in the eyes of my students. That's what we teachers love. It's a rejoicing experience. Thks again. Can't wait to see your channel grow

  • Reply Karl Oh February 15, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    I really appreciate your teaching.

  • Reply Life on Hoth February 16, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Pan your man! Hope he's ok 😛

  • Reply M. Luisa Rocha February 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I love your videos.

  • Reply Val Taylor February 23, 2019 at 7:54 am

    You guys are amazing!!!!

  • Reply xGrool February 23, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    The best intro ever! 😂😂😂

  • Reply Rodnexafla February 23, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Nothing cheers me up more than watching you two. Quick question, what is your audience you are aiming for, or is there no distinct audience?

  • Reply Patricia Vaganek February 26, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    I learned again something new now,thank you !

  • Reply Индира Абдрахманова February 28, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    It was so brilliant! It seems to me that you are professional actors, am I right? Your commercial was perfect! You have got incredible sense of humour! Thank you so much!

  • Reply Eric Tan March 2, 2019 at 10:33 am

    i once read that a chinese guy who studied abroad in Britain was not so used to hear people saying bless you to him after he sneezed, since he felt like he was pulling all other people’s attention to him. And one day after he sneezed, he happened to say “bless me!” before everyone else could say “bless you” to him hhhh

  • Reply fungwama subba March 7, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    lots of love and good wishes to "one" of the most beautiful souls . GRATITUDE!!

  • Reply Ali Mohammed March 8, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Awesome as usual

  • Reply P UB March 13, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    its expressions are useful for me to use with my foreign friend so I feel thankful for this video. Please upload lots of useful expressions with the good videos. I also subscribed!!!!!
    Thank you so much and its quality is best! Thank you for making these good videos……. Also, I'm Korean. But because of this video, my English skill began to grow!

  • Reply MightyZeus March 13, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    The american version is the same in my language. I once told my english friend 'I feel like I'm getting sick' instead of 'I'm getting the flu'. He did not like that one bit lol!

  • Reply m batayneh March 16, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    You make a reference about the word snot being impolite word. Could you make a video about using euphemism , hence it is a crucial concept in any language. Also, i was wondering about changing some words to avoid saying words which consider a taboo. Could you explain this concept for us.

  • Reply m batayneh March 16, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    What caught my attention is using the expression bless you as a polite way to say if someone sneezes. In arabic we use a phrase that is literasly translated as "may god has his mercy upon you". I was wondering what other languages use in this case. Do you have any ideas?

  • Reply Ladynoir forever March 22, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    You're both so good at teaching English, I am italian but I love English so much and thanks to both of you I learn much more vocabulary and grammar about this language I love

  • Reply Portzy March 24, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    That old woman needs a job on cebeebies

  • Reply Vesislava Zheleva March 25, 2019 at 11:27 am

    In my language we use the same word when someone sneezes and before drinking alcohol for a toast. When I studied English there was some time when I was saying cheers to someone who's just sneezed haha

  • Reply Kostas Chatz March 27, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Fantastic video! Your team is the best !

  • Reply Birgit Häde March 31, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Hilarious 😅 Very helpful to get vocabulary in American AND British English in one video 🤗🤗🤗

  • Reply Birgit Häde March 31, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    To lose your lunch 🤣😂

  • Reply John Gates John April 11, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Wow, it"s such a great video and a great performance from both of you guys

  • Reply samoanfun11 April 21, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    May I ask, is the woman with the pink colored hair your daughter or granddaughter?

  • Reply Arkan Salih April 28, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Thank you teachers 😍

  • Reply Ian The Hedgefox May 12, 2019 at 12:00 am

    You forgot "chunder".

  • Reply CENG CENG May 16, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    you are sooo sweet , i am turkish and i am learning english thanks to you 🙂 thank youu

  • Reply Hasnaoui Houssayn June 8, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Another great vidio thanks teachers I like your methods

  • Reply Eunika Poland June 12, 2019 at 6:36 am

    Hello. thank you for a very interesting video. It is a big pleasure to watch and learn from you. Please go on 🙂
    Greetings from Poland!

  • Reply Renata Cagliarani June 26, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Can I say "God bless you" in this case? Or should I say "Bless you" only?

  • Reply Counter Tenor July 7, 2019 at 4:07 am

    You will sometimes hear the German gesungheit in America.

  • Reply Alejandro Peña July 25, 2019 at 7:33 am

    I use to say to my friends .. hey you are Infectious right? when they get flu hehe.

  • Reply 1marciofrog July 30, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    A long time ago I missed up the word "Fly to flu", I didn't realize the difference. How I was silly!!!

  • Reply Marco Antonio August 2, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Enjoyed video,in Portuguese language we say: "Doente" or "Enfermo"😁

  • Reply Marco Antonio August 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    "Constipation" we say in portuguese language: "Prisão de ventre"😁 (informal)

  • Reply farideh kodrami August 11, 2019 at 11:55 am

    I love both of you .😍😍😍
    I am poorly.

  • Reply Annabelle Rankin August 19, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Would love to have some more topic-based vocabulary videos….. (hint hint)!

  • Reply Jefferson Nery September 16, 2019 at 12:51 pm


  • Reply Gerson Ramazzotti September 22, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    I couldn't help but become a fan and subscribe. You guys are top notch. So much love comes across. I love it and I'm learning a lot. Very best regards from Brazil.

  • Reply megna m September 26, 2019 at 8:23 am

    The way you explain is fantabulous. Thanks ever so much 😊😊😊🙏🙏🙏 Loads of love from India 🤗

  • Reply texture pack kid October 3, 2019 at 9:48 pm


  • Reply texture pack kid October 3, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    snoooo is no a poliye wod snot is not a polite word

  • Reply Monira Yusuf October 7, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    I love your videos.. 💗

  • Reply Trexking Dinoboy October 24, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Next time I get the cold or flu I need to try that frying pan method:)

  • Reply Noor Archery November 4, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    The best actor and actress of this year goes to … we all know who wins the awards! Get up, Vicki and Jay ! XD

  • Reply Alina Nistor November 10, 2019 at 7:36 am

    How funny was at first!! 😂😂💖

  • Reply Shkar Ahmed November 23, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Nice video be continual

  • Reply newivi December 9, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    You are so adorable!!! Polite, sweet, funny… simply AMAZING!!!

  • Reply Рафаэль Анджело December 16, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Dear Vicki, your pronunciation is a HUG to my ears

  • Reply Mai Pham December 24, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Very helpful and lovely. I love you guys <3.

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