The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

Learn quarantined English: what is the difference between ill and sick


Source: EnglishDom

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the topic of disease is discussed more often than ever. While everyone is quarantined, you can take the time to learn English. For example, to find out how the current words sick and ill differ. Site offers to understand EnglishDom.

Photo: Shutterstock

Nobody wants to be sick, but if you are still unlucky, then you ... What? Got sick? Or fell ill? Both adjectives indicate illness, malaise. Just as in Russian the word “patient” can have several meanings, so sick and ill differ. In short, the most general concept is not in good health.

So the words are interchangeable. But since there are two of them, there is a difference between them. Let's figure it out!

  • I was ill this time last year, but I'm fine now. - I was sick at this time last year, but now I'm fine.
  • Nancy looks ill. I wonder what's wrong with her. - Nancy looks sick. I wonder what happened to her?
  • I felt sick and had to go home at lunchtime. - I felt unwell and had to go home for lunch.

Both words can be used with verbs: be, become, feel, look or seem. But before a noun, sick is usually used, not ill.

  • She's been looking after a sick child (not "ill child") this week, so she's not at work. “She's looking after a sick child this week, so she’s not at work.”

To be sick in British English usually refers to nausea and is used in the meaning of to vomit - "tear". In American, it’s a more general meaning to be unwell - “feeling bad”.


Pronunciation and translation: [sɪk] - sick, unhealthy, painful; suffering; yearning; pale (about color, light, etc.); sick; perverted; painfully gloomy; creepy; cool; mentally unbalanced.

Meaning: from ancient times they say this about people suffering from a disease, illness or nausea.

Use: it is customary to say a word when someone is sick, that is, suffers from a short-term illness (for example, flu), infection or illness. A less formal word than ill and is commonly used in American English (in British, sick is usually spoken when it comes to nausea).

Sick is used in a figurative sense, when it is already unbearably sick of something (or from someone).

Imagine a sick child who stays at home instead of going to school, or someone who feels nauseous after riding a roller coaster. This is all sick!

She is absent because she is sick. - She is absent because she is ill.

I am sick of this man. - I'm sick of this man (he really bothered me).

If you see that a person is doing something unhealthy, then you can express your protest and say to him: “You're sick.” It will be something like "you're sick on your head."

Phrases and phrases with sick:

  • sick-making - annoying;
  • sick list - list of patients; Bulletin
  • sick slip / note - a certificate from a doctor; sick leave;
  • sick benefit - sickness benefit;
  • sick story - a story that causes frost on the skin;
  • sick bag - a hygiene bag (on the plane);
  • sick bay - insulator, ship’s infirmary;
  • sick ward - infirmary;
  • worried sick - very worried;
  • take sick to chew on; unwell
  • sick joke - a gloomy joke; cruel joke; black humor (sick jokes);
  • sick up - empty the stomach; tear, puke;
  • sick in the head - sick on the head;
  • sick-ass - unpleasant;
  • sick puppy - a psycho who thinks, speaks or acts in a strange, perverse, sadistic or terrible manner; constantly requires attention;
  • sick at heart - unhappy; vexed; cats scratch their souls;
  • sick and tired - completely unbearable; already quite tired, fed up;
  • make sick - cause nausea (in smb.). You make me sick - you make me sick; I am tired of you;
  • sick to death (sick / fed up to the back teeth) - nourishing absolute aversion;
  • call in sick - take leave from work; Report by telephone about absenteeism due to illness;
  • sick pay - sickness benefit (paid by the company, usually reimburses part of the earnings);
  • You'll just make yourself sick gulping down dust. - Torment dust swallow!

Interestingly, in slang, both words are pronounced at the sight of something cool, crazy and crazy. So if you saw this, you can safely shout them out.

"That's so sick!" or "That's totally ill!" - here ill = sick = cool, tight, sweet, amazing, awesome, etc.

On the subject: How to learn English from TV shows and songs: techniques that increase efficiency by 5-10 times


Pronunciation and translation: [ɪl] - sick; unhealthy; bad; bad; bad; evil; hostile; harmful; evil; harm; adversity; troubles; misfortune;

Meaning: for a long time people use the word in the meaning of "feeling ill", "suffering from a disease."

Use: used when someone is sick, that is, suffers from a protracted illness or feels unwell. This word is used in British English.

You better go home, you look ill. “You better go home, you look sick.”

This implies the presence of some serious disease from which a person cannot be cured. Ill is a more formal word and is used to describe long-term (or short-term) diseases (ailments).

Ill can be said for example about a person who has cancer or pneumonia. On the other hand, a person with a fever or a cold can also be ill. In relation to nausea, the word is also used, but less often than sick.

Interesting: ills on slang - tablets, pills.

She was seriously ill the last years of her life. - She was seriously ill the last years of her life.

He is seriously ill and unlikely to recover. - He is seriously ill and is unlikely to recover.

Then the boy fell ill with a viral infection and died. - Then the boy got a viral infection and died. I'd rather be hungry than ill. “I'd rather be hungry than sick.”

As teachers become ill and unable to work, some schools are closing. - Due to the illness of teachers and their inability to conduct classes, schools are closing.

Phrases and phrases with ill:

  • to be ill at smth - have cool skills in something (I'm ill at this game!);
  • be taken ill - get sick, get sick;
  • ill act - evil deed;
  • ill fate - evil rock;
  • ill fit with - mismatch (ill fitted - unsuitable);
  • ill repute - bad reputation;
  • house of ill fame - brothel;
  • ill temper - bad temper, heavy character;
  • ill will / feeling - ill-will; hostility; hostility;
  • ill at ease - not at ease; uncomfortable; concerned; nervous; embarrassing uncomfortable; awkward; embarrassed;
  • ill looking - ugly, sinister, gloomy;
  • ill advised - unreasonable, unreasonable, reckless;
  • ill nature - bad character, anger, quarrelsomeness (ill-natured girl);
  • ill luck - misfortune; failure; bad luck;
  • ill gotten - obtained by dishonest means (someone else’s good doesn’t work for the future);
  • ill-gotten gains - illegally acquired; money obtained dishonestly;
  • wish (one) ill - wish (for someone) evil;
  • take a thing ill - take offense at someone;
  • bode ill - promise nothing good; do not bode well; to bode (Those facts bode ill for the future of the country.).

Never speak ill of the dead. - They don’t speak badly about the dead.

It's an ill wind that blows no good. - There is no silver lining.

It's ill waiting for dead man's shoes. (as they say, when someone expects any benefit from the death of another person - this is not cool).

On the subject: Annoying everyone: 8 pairs of English words that are pronounced the same but mean different


To summarize?

  • Sick is more about nausea, malaise, or a short infectious disease.
  • Ill is a protracted and serious illness, but also nausea.
  • Ill is more commonly used in British English.

The words are interchangeable.

stay healthy

Follow success stories, tips, and more by subscribing to Woman.ForumDaily on Facebook, and don't miss the main thing in our mailing list