Feeling Sick

1. Describing illness

There are different ways to describe feeling ill:

  • noun + problem
  • feel + (adjective)
  • be …ing
  • can’t / won’t stop …ing
  • unable to / can’t …
  • have + noun

2. Noun + problem

NounProblemComplete sentence
My headhurtsMy head hurts.
His toothhurtsHis tooth hurts.
Owen’s lower legis swollenOwen’s lower leg is swollen.
My stomachachesMy stomach aches.

3. Feel + adjective

FeelAdjectiveComplete sentence
I feelsickI feel sick
He feelsdizzyHe feels dizzy
She feelsbloatedShe feels bloated

4. Be …ing

be …ingfull sentence
I am vomitingI’m vomiting every morning
He is coughingHe is coughing up blood
They are shiveringThey are shivering

5. Can’t / won’t stop …ing

can’t / won’t stop …ingexample full sentence
can’t stop coughingI can’t stop coughing.
won’t stop shakingMy hand won’t stop shaking.
can’t stop going to the bathroomShe can’t stop going to the bathroom.
can’t stop being sickSheila can’t stop being sick.

6. Unable to … / can’t …

unable to … / can’t …full sentences
unable to swallowI’m unable to swallow.
unable to sleepShe is unable to sleep.
can’t breatheThey can’t breathe.

7. Have a + noun

have anouncomplete sentences
have asore headI have a sore head.
have abroken legHe has a broken leg.
has atoothacheShe has a toothache.
has apainMargot has a pain in her side

8. Sore vs. …ache vs. have a pain in the…

Although not an illness, you can always use sore if you feel pain.

I have a sore head.I have a sore tooth.
I have a sore leg.I have a sore toe.
I have a sore stomach.I have a sore nose.

However, some parts of the body have special ‘…ache’ words.

I have a toothache.I have a stomachache.
I have an earache.I have a headache.

‘A pain in my…’ is used for general areas of the body.

I have a pain in my side.I have a pain in my stomache.
I have a pain in my leg.I have a pain in my thigh.

If a body part usually uses ‘sore’ or ‘ache’, pain sounds unusual.
This generally means the pain is unusual or severe.

Sore / achePain
I have a stomachache. (normal)I have a pain in my stomach. (unusual, maybe severe)
I have a sore leg. (normal)I have a pain in my leg. (not sure why, and could be serious)