Home IELTS Speaking Vocabulary Useful Expressions: Describing Emotions (Part 2)

Useful Expressions: Describing Emotions (Part 2)

Useful Expression for IELTS Speaking is a document that summarizes the most used phrases in the IELTS Speaking section (note that these phrases can only be used in spoken language). 

Embarrassment, Surprise, and Being nervous or anxious

  1. (to have) butterflies in your stomach
    Meaning: to be feeling so anxious or nervous about something that you have a strange or bad feeling in your stomach
    Example: I was so nervous before the job interview I had butterflies in my stomach.
  2. (to have) egg on your face
    Meaning: to be feeling really embarrassed after saying or doing something foolish in front of other people
    Example: I’ve been calling her the wrong name all week in front of everyone, now I’ve really got egg on my face.
  3. (to be) ill at ease
    Meaning: to be feeling tense, uncomfortable, or unwell and can’t relax properly in a situation
    Example: I’ve been feeling ill at ease all day. I made a big mistake at work yesterday and I’m not sure how the boss will react today.
  4. (to have)itchy feet
    Meaning: to want to go travelling, experience something new, or make a change in your life
    Example: I was only at the company for three months before I started getting itchy feet, so I quit my job and went on a long holiday abroad.
  5. (to)jump out of your skin
    Meaning: to get a big shock or surprise, which may even make you jump or tense your body
    Example: I nearly jumped out of my skin when I got my exam results. I never expected to get such good grades.
  6. (to)knock your socks off
    Meaning: when something amazes, surprises, or shocks you
    Example: The boss nearly knocked my socks off when he announced that I was getting a promotion. I really didn’t expect that!
  7. (to)lose face
    Meaning: to lose respect or admiration from others
    Example: the celebrity really lost face when the scandal was reported in the newspapers.
  8. (to be) lost for words
    Meaning: to be so shocked, surprised or annoyed by something that you don’t know what to say
    Example: I was lost for words when I didn’t get the promotion again this year. I just don’t know what to do to impress the bosses.
  9. (to be) as white as a bed sheet | as white as a ghost
    Meaning: to be so shocked or scared by something that your face goes pale (or white)
    Example: She was as white as a ghost after watching the horror film at the cinema last night
  10. You could have knocked me over with a feather
    Meaning: to be so shocked, surprised, or astonished by something
    Example: You could have knocked me over with a feather when my parents gave me the latest MacBook as a gift before starting university, I was so surpirised!

Being busy

  1. (to be) as busy as a bee | as busy as a beaver
    Meaning: to be busy
    Example: I haven’t had any time to catch up on my homework, I’ve been as busy as a bee preparing for my father’s surprise birthday party.
  2. (to have) a lot on your plate
    Meaning: to be busy because you have many things to do
    Example: Unfortunately I just don’t have time to hang out with my friends this weekend because I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment.
  3. (to be) snowed under
    Meaning: to be very busy, or to have more work to do than you can deal with
    Example: I’m so snowed under at work right now, I just can’t take on any more responsibilities.
  4. (to be) up to your neck | eyeballs | ears
    Meaning: to very busy with something, or to have too much of something (e.g work) to do
    Example: I’m too busy to go to the cinema tonight. I’m up to my eyeballs with revision at the moment because I’ve got an important test next week
  5. (to have) your hands full
    Meaning: to be busy with something or someone
    Example: My mum really had her hands full when she was trying to raise my three brothers and I, while my father was working long hours.

Useful Expressions: Describing Emotions (Part 3)


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