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Ways to Use the Word ‘Strong’

Ways to Use the Word 'Strong'
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This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Jack who is in China.


Hello! We use the word “strong” to describe a person and a team. Can we use it to describe a country?

Jack, China.


Dear Jack,

As you know, “strong” is an adjective. It describes something that has power or something that cannot easily be broken, damaged or destroyed.

You are right. English speakers use the word “strong” to describe a person or a team. We can also use it to describe a country. However, describing something with the adjective “strong” does not necessarily mean it is good. Strong can describe things that are good or bad.

‘Strong’ as a good quality

In fact, almost anything can be strong. For example, people can be strong. But things like teeth, bones and muscles can be strong too. The wind can be strong. Here is an example:

The weather report says there will be strong winds tomorrow.

“Strong” can describe feelings also. You can have a strong feeling about someone, some event or issue. You may even feel you know what may happen in the future, like this:

I have a strong feeling about our team winning the championship.

‘Strong’ for bad qualities

“Strong” can also be used to describe bad qualities. For example, imagine you painted a room and your friend comes in and says:

The paint smell is too strong. Open the window, please!

“Strong” can mean something that is hard to fight against. Many students might understand this example:

When I sit in the classroom for a long time, I have a strong desire to sleep.

So, the adjective “strong” can be used to describe good things and bad ones, too.

Well, Jack, we hope this helps to answer your question.

And to our listeners everywhere, what question do you have about American English? Send us an email at

And that’s Ask a Teacher!

I’m Armen Kassabian.

Armen Kasabian wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor. Practice using “strong” to describe good and bad qualities in a comment.