Talking About Feelings in English

When you meet somebody for the first time, what are some of the first questions you ask?

‘What’s your name?’  ‘Where are you from?’ ‘What do you do?’ and ‘How are you today?’

Today we’ll look at some responses to that last question, as we talk about the different words associated with feelings and emotions in English.  A lot of the British people you meet will probably answer ‘I’m fine’ if you ask them, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be so brief! It’s always good to have more choices.

Here is a table with 10 potential answers to the questions ‘how are you?’ or ‘how are you feeling?’ I’ve divided the table into positive and negative feelings to show the opposites.

The names of the emotions (the nouns) are then separated from the adjectives we use in answer to the question.




Adjective Noun


Happiness Happy Sadness Sad
Excitement Excited Boredom Bored
Surprise Surprised Fear Frightened
Relaxaton Relaxed Stress Stressed
Peace Peaceful Anger Angry


The bad news is that there is no rule for for forming the adjectives you’ll need to answer the question, so we have to learn each of them by heart.

The good news is that in English, we can use the verbs ‘to be’ and ‘to feel’ interchangeably when we’re talking about the way we feel. There is no real difference in meaning between saying ‘I am happy’ or ‘I feel happy’, although the first one is used more often in informal conversation:

I am happy

You are excited

He/she/it is surprised

We are relaxed

You are peaceful

They are sad.


The same is true when we talk about the past

I was angry

You were stressed

He/she/it was frightened

We were bored

You were sad

They were peaceful


So there is your quick introduction to talking about how you feel. You can use all 10 of the words in the table in conversation, though I hope that you don’t have to use the ones on the right hand side too often.

‘Small talk’ is an essential part of fluent English, so happy conversing!


Mairi : )