In this lesson, you’ll learn how to talk about the weather in English. Talking about the weather in English is one of the most common ways to have conversation. Do you know what it means if someone says it’s chucking it down today? If someone says it’s baking today, do you know what they are talking about? In this class, you’ll learn words, phrases and idioms that you can use to describe different kinds of weather.
QUIZ: Talking About the Weather
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British people are famous for talking about the weather. Do you know why?
It’s because in the UK we have a lot of weather. You never know what the weather will be like. You can have all four seasons in one day.
We are going to look at a typical British day, so the weather is going to be very changeable. This means that weather can change quickly and unpredictably. It can be sunny, and then 30 minutes later, it will start snowing.
1. Cold Weather
So, first we wake up and it is a bit cold. How would we describe this?
I could say that it’s a bit chilly.
This means that it’s a little cold. Not very cold, just a little cold.
Autumn mornings are often chilly. In chilly weather, you might want a light jacket, but you won’t need a heavy coat, or a scarf, or anything like that.
But what if it’s very cold? You could say that it’s freezing. You might say that you can see your breath.
Freezing means that it is very cold. Not just chilly, but very cold. Antarctica is freezing. Northern Canada in winter is freezing.
To see your breath means that you can literally see the air when you breathe on it. Usually if you can see your breath it is freezing.
If the weather is so freezing that you can see your breath you probably will need to bundle up.
Bundle up means to wear layers of clothes to keep yourself warm. When the weather is freezing you need to bundle up.
On freezing mornings, it can be very, very difficult to get out of bed. But let’s imagine that we get up because we have to go to work.
2. Wet Weather
So we leave the house and it’s drizzling at the moment.
Drizzling means that it is raining lightly. It’s not heavy. Drizzle is so light that it can look like mist.
We can also say that it is only spitting.
Spitting is even lighter than drizzling. It means that a few raindrops are falling, but it isn’t really raining. Before it rains, it might start spitting and then get heavier.
It is also quite gusty today.
Gusty means that the wind is heavy, but not continuous. The wind comes in short, heavy bursts.
Then, suddenly the heavens open.
This means that it starts raining heavily.
How else could I describe it if it is raining a lot? I could say that it is chucking it down.
This means that it is raining a lot. It is really heavy. It is the type of rain that people find it difficult to drive in or walk in. As I am walking to work my clothes are getting soaked.
This means that my clothes are very wet because of the rain. Luckily I bought my umbrella today.
So we get to work, only a little damp from the rain thanks to the umbrella.
Damp means that something is slightly wet. My clothes are a little wet because of the rain.
And, from my window I can see that it’s very overcast and dark overhead.
To say that it is overcast means that the clouds are covering the sky. You cannot see the sun.
When it is dark overhead you are saying that the clouds are very black. Most likely this is because it is raining or going to rain soon.
So it is dark overhead and overcast. You think there’s going to be a storm. You could say that there is a storm brewing.
3. Stormy and Windy Weather
This means that you think a storm will start very soon. You’re sure there’s going to be a storm; you can see it in the sky.
And then you see lightning.
Lightning is a large electric flash of light.
And after the lightning you hear thunder.
Thunder is the noise that you hear caused by lightning. Usually you will hear thunder after you see lightning.
We call these storms thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms are storms that have lighting, thunder and it is also chucking it down as well.
When the storm starts, the wind picks up. Soon, it’s almost a gale.
The wind picks up when the wind becomes stronger. A gale is a very strong wind, which can be dangerous.
Lucky for you when it is time to go home the storm has finished. It is now sunny and hot. You won’t need your umbrella anymore.
4. Hot Weather
You walk outside and there isn’t a cloud in the sky and it is baking hot.
This means that it is very hot. It is baking hot in the Sahara Desert.
It’s completely still. That means there’s no wind at all.
We can also say that it is a scorcher today.
This also means that it is extremely hot. In Australia, most days in the summer could be described as scorchers. Another way to say this is to say that it is boiling.
So if the temperature is very hot we can say that it is baking hot, a scorcher or boiling.
The walk home from work is a lot better than your walk to work this morning in the rain.
The weather forecast is the prediction for the next day or week of what the weather will be like.
The weather forecast tells you that tomorrow it will begin with a bit of frost on the ground and it will be sleeting. In the afternoon there will be flurries of snow but then it will turn into a blizzard by the evening. The snow on the floor will turn into slush. It will be below freezing for most of the day. What does this mean?
It will begin with a bit of frost on the ground.
Frost means ice crystals on a frozen surface. When it is freezing the ground may be covered in frost. Usually in winter in the UK we have very frosty mornings.
And, it will be sleeting.
Sleet is rain and snow mixed together. Sleet happens when snow melts as it falls.
In the afternoon there will be a flurry of snow.
A flurry of snow means that there will be light snow for a short time. It won’t be heavy and it usually doesn’t stay on the ground.
But, it will turn into a blizzard by the evening.
A blizzard is a storm with lots of snow and wind. Usually planes can’t take off or land when there is a heavy blizzard.
Then, the snow on the floor will turn into slush.
Slush is snow or ice that has partly melted. Usually snow will turn into slush when the weather gets warmer. Walking in slush is very unpleasant, because cold water will get into your shoes!
It will be below freezing for most of the day.
When we say it is below freezing we are saying that the temperature is below 0°C. This means that it’s freezing. So I‘ll probably want to bundle up tomorrow!
So what have we learnt today? We have learned that Britain’s weather is very changeable and hopefully you have learned how to describe weather in more detail using phrases and expressions.
Thanks very much for watching this lesson from Oxford Online English!
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