In this episode, we’re going to discuss how we can talk about emotions, moods and strong desires in our Talking about Feelings mini-series as part of Vocabulary and Speaking premium episodes.

Audio Episode

Lesson Highlights

Positive feelings, moods and states

  • Everyone seemed to be in high spirits. [lively, enjoying things]
  • She seems to be keeping her chin up. [happy despite bad things]
  • Jo’s as happy as can be. [extremely content]

Negative feelings, moods and states

  • He had a long face. [looked depressed/sad]
  • Zac is in a bad mood. [a bad mood/temper]
  • Martin was like a bear with a sore head. [extremely irritable]

Physical feelings and states

  • I’m feeling done in. [exhausted]
  • You’re looking a bit under the weather. [not very well / ill]
  • She looked, and felt, on top form. [in good physical condition]
  • I suddenly felt my head was spinning. [unable to balance, feel as if you will fall over]


  • She was scared stiff. [very scared]
  • She frightened the life out of him. [frightened him a lot]
  • We were all shaking in our boots/shoes. [trembling with fear]
  • The poor lad was scared out of his wits. [very scared indeed]
  • I jumped out of my skin when I heard the bang. [gave a big jump]

Other expressions for actions and feelings


Don’t get carried away by promises not kept. Keep a cool head and take everything as it comes. On the work front, things are looking up.

  • Get carried away: get too excited
  • Keep a cool head: stay calm
  • Take everything as it comes: deal calmly with events as they happen
  • Things are looking up: improving


If someone says something that makes you swell with pride and feel on top of the world, enjoy the moment.

  • Makes you swell with pride: fee proud/ very pleased because of something good that you did
  • On top of the world: very happy indeed

Strong desires

Pregnant women crave / have a craving for strange things like tuna and banana pizza! [want very strongly]

Young children often seem to thirst / have a thirst for knowledge. [feel very strongly that you want]

Sometimes my cousin just yearns to be on her own with no family responsibilities. [if you yearn to do / yearn for / have a yearning for something, it means that you want something that you do not have and, often, can never have]

An Olympic gold medal is probably the most coveted sporting prize. [to covet something means to want to possess it very much]

Reacting to other people’s emotions

Johnny tried to defuse the tension by changing the subject. [make a dangerous or tense situation calmer]

Tim was very angry with his daughter and it took her a long time to placate him. [stop someone feeling angry]

An independent advisor has been brought in to conciliate between the unions and the employer. [end a disagreement between two people or groups by acting in a friendly way towards both sides; formal]

Although appeasing the enemy postponed the war for another year, it did not ultimately prevent it from happening. [end a disagreement by giving the other side an advantage that they are demanding (normally used in a disapproving way); formal]

Lesson Practice

Talking about Feelings 3 Quiz 

Level: Intermediate - Upper-Intermediate
Quiz time: about 5 minutes

Complete the fixed expressions from what you learned in the episode.

Has something good happened? You all seem in high ______.

What’s the matter? You’ve got a long ______.

As long as he has his car to work on, he’s as happy ______.

It’s been an awful day! No wonder everyone is in a ______.

Has something bad happened? You look down ______.

Use fixed expressions to rewrite the words in parentheses. (just rewrite the expression, not the whole sentence)

I (gave a sudden jump) when he fired the gun.

I think you should (not panic) and just be patient.

He (scared me very much) when he came in wearing that ghost mask!

Everyone was (trembling with fear) when they saw the door open all by itself.

I was (very scared) before I did the bungee jump, but it was OK.

She (felt very proud indeed) as her daughter received the gold medal.

I think I got (too excited) by the idea of joining a rock band. It’s actually very hard work!

I try to just (deal with events in a calm way as they happen.)

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