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Talking about Hot Weather Around the World

Talking about Hot Weather Around the World
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In a recent Everyday Grammar, we showed how to use three grammatical structures to talk about hot weather. They are phrasal verbs, collocations, and metaphors. In this lesson, we review some examples that you have sent to us at Learning English.

Phrasal verb

Arunabh wrote to tell us some expressions used in San Francisco. Let us start with a phrasal verb, to “cool down.” It means to move toward a lower temperature.

This phrasal verb can be used either as a transitive verb (one that needs an object) or an intransitive verb (one that does not need to have an object). In the intransitive sense, you may hear the statement Arunabh sent:

I hope it cools down soon; it is too hot here.

In the transitive sense, the two parts of the verb, that is, the verb “cool” and the preposition “down,” can be separated, the object coming between them. Here is an example:

She cooled her tea down with some milk.


Arunabh gave us another expression that relates to cooking. It is not a cooking method, but a sound we hear when foods are put into hot cooking oil: “sizzle.” Here is the statement:

The streets are sizzling in the summer heat.

“Sizzle” gives us an interesting addition to our ways of talking about heat. This word is an example of onomatopoeia, or words that copy sounds. We find that the meaning of sizzle in our dictionary is “to make a hissing sound.”

“Hiss” is also a good example of onomatopoeia. A song by the American singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell uses that word to talk about a sound we often hear in hot weather. In her song, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Mitchell brings to mind the sound of water spraying on grass from mechanical sprinklers in the summertime:

She patrols that fence of his

To a Latin drum

And the hissing of summer lawns

There is another onomatopoetic word that we can use in hot weather. When we sweat in hot weather, drops of water sometimes fall from our bodies and it can make a sound similar to the word, “drip.” We may then say,

I’m dripping with sweat.

Talking about weather in Japan

Another reader, Haruna, wrote to us with some hot weather expressions common in Japan. She tells us that most Japanese usually talk about the weather when they first meet someone. The same is true in the United States. Americans often talk about the weather to begin a conversation with someone they do not know well.

Haruna explained that Japanese people can use one or more Chinese characters when writing about heat. The first one is simply “hot,” atsu (暑).To express the degree of heat, another character is placed before it to create a new word. Sometimes that changes the pronunciation of the word for “hot.”

For example, extreme heat is mōsho (猛暑)or “steaming hot”. To describe sweltering heat, Japanese would say ensho (炎暑) which translates as “flaming hot.” These are metaphors, as we discussed in our earlier story on this subject.

We also talked about cooking terms used to talk about hot weather such as:

It’s so hot that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk.

In Japan, this is common, too. A new word has come into use 猛暑日 mōsho-bi, which means a “steaming hot day.” A Japanese person might say:

It is hot enough to steam a pork bun on the sidewalk.

Finally, Haruna says that in weather forecasts, these words are connected to certain temperatures:

When the temperature is over 25 degrees, it is a summer day, or 夏日 kajitsu.

When it is over 30 degrees, it is a hot summer day, or 真夏日manatsu-bi.

And when the temperature rises over 35 degrees, it is an extremely hot day, or 猛暑日 mōsho-bi.

If the temperature rises to over 40 degrees, it is a cruelly hot day, or 炎暑日 ensho-bi.

Thank you, Arunabh and Haruna, for sharing your hot weather expressions with us. We hope all our listeners and readers will find good ways to stay cool in the hot days ahead.

And that’s Everyday Grammar!

I’m Jill Robbins.

Jill Robbins wrote this lesson for Learning English.


Words in This Story

sizzlev. to make a hissing sound like the sound water makes when it hits hot meta

hiss – v. a sound like a long “s” or the sound food makes when put in a hot pan

sprinklern. a device that is used to spray water on plants or soil or a device in a building that sprays water if there is a fire

patrol v. to walk or go around or through (an area, building, or the like) especially in order to make sure that it is safe

sweatv. to produce a clear liquid from your skin when you are hot or nervous

drip v. to fall in drops

charactern. a symbol (such as a letter or number) that is used in writing or printing

How do you talk about hot weather where you live? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.