Hello. This week on Everyday Grammar, we are talking about common expressions linked to weather. We got the idea for the show from an email sent by a Learning English fan in Myanmar.
Thin Ya Thaw asked, “Could you tell me the most useful expressions in your daily life? This helps me a lot in learning English. I want to know natural English to communicate with others."
We agree - natural, or conversational, English is a great goal. Thank you Thin Ya Thaw for the excellent study subject.
There are thousands of expressions people can and do use in their daily lives. Today, we are going to look at some expressions common to discussions of weather.
So let’s put on our sun block, pick up our umbrella, or put on our snowshoes and talk about the conditions in the great outdoors!
The weather in our daily lives
In parts of the United States weather conditions can change very quickly. You might wake up in the morning to sunny skies and mild temperatures. A few hours later, it could be very hot and humid. Clouds might form, developing into a thunderstorm as the night continues.
The weather is a major consideration when we make plans. We might not want to play baseball in the park in heavy rain, for example! Or travel to Alaska in the deep of winter!
Let’s start with several kinds of questions that we use to raise the subject of weather.
Wh-questions and how
What is it like outside?
What’s the weather today?
The structure we use here is what + auxiliary verb or helping verb (be, do, or have) + subject (+ main verb)
In the first question, the subject “it” refers to the weather.
The answer might be:
It is extremely hot.
It is sunny but starting to snow.
“How” is another common question word linked to climate discussion.
How’s the weather?
“How” acts like a wh-question even though it does not begin with a “wh.” This structure is similar to the other two questions. But, when you use “how,” you are more likely to get an opinion than an objective observation as an answer.
For example, someone might answer:
It’s nice out.
It’s nasty out there.
Our next “wh-question” is another “how” question.
How hot is it outside?
How cold is it?
Here we are asking about the intensity of weather conditions.
The answer to these questions calls for an adverb, adjective or an exact number.
For example, we could respond with:
It’s really hot outside!
It is freezing!
It’s 81 degrees outside today.
We can also ask yes/no questions about the weather.
For example, we could ask questions like:
Is it humid out?
Is it raining?
Do I need a coat?
That last question is about the clothing one should wear to be protected from the weather. The answer will suggest what the weather is like. If a coat is needed, it is probably cool or cold outside.
The “yes/no” question form is very different from wh-questions. We form “yes/no” questions with an auxiliary or helping verb (be, do, or have) + subject + main verb.
The answer could be a simple yes or no. But, commonly, additional information is also provided, like here:
Should I put on my rubber boots to go to the store?
No. It is sunny skies for the rest of the day!
Today we learned some common question and answer phrases that we can use to talk about the weather in our daily lives. “Wh-words” and “how” questions can be used to talk generally or to ask opinions about the weather. “How” questions are more often used to ask about the intensity of the weather.
Now it is your turn! What other weather expressions, questions, or answers do you know and use in English? Let us know in the comments below or write to us at email@example.com.
I’m Faith Pirlo.
And I’m Caty Weaver.
Faith Pirlo wrote this report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
conversational — adj. relating to or suggesting informal talk; relating to or suggesting a discussion
mild — adj. gentle in nature or behavior
humid — adj. containing enough water or water particles to make one feel hot and slightly wet
thunderstorm — n. a large storm with thunder, lightning, and lots of rain
nasty — adj. unpleasant and unkind
intensity — n. the quality of state of being intense