Talking about the weather

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If you live in the UK or visit for a few days you soon realise how important knowing weather vocabulary can be. British people love talking about the weather, usually because it’s so bad! You can get away with the basic rainy, sunny and cloudy. But they will soon become boring, especially when it’s always raining. We are not going to give you a list of vocabulary (you can find that in your Callan book), but we are going to give you some tips to make your weather talk a bit easier.  

What is the weather?

The weather is the state of the atmosphere at a particular time and place, it can change very fast. To know what the weather will be like you check the forecast, a prediction of future weather, but be careful because the forecast is not always correct. British people are obsessed with the weather because it can be sunny and suddenly it starts raining, and 20 minutes later it gets sunny again. Almost everyone checks the forecast before leaving the house and weather small talk is almost mandatory, usually to complain about it (because it’s always too cold, or too rainy or too hot). Don’t confuse the weather with the climate or the time. Climate is the weather conditions over a long period of time, you can say that the UK has a cold or rainy climate even if the day happens to be sunny. The climate changes with the season: Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter. The time is what the clock shows. When talking about the weather we usually talk about temperature, how hot or cold it is. In the UK we use Celsius, never Fahrenheit (that’s an American thing). Putting it all together you can hear something like: according to the weather forecast we are going to have warm weather, the temperature is going to be 15 degrees.  

The grammar

To talk about the weather you need only very basic grammar. There are 3 options:
  1. it + verb to be + adjective: it’s rainy, it was sunny, it will be cold
  2. it + verb to be + gerund (-ing verb): it is raining, it was snowing, it will be hailing
  3. it + verb to be + a/an + adjective + time period: it is a rainy day, it was a cold morning, it will be a sunny week

The vocabulary

To a student it seems like there are thousands of weather words, but there’s a few tricks to learn them:
  1. Group them by weather pattern: for example chilly, cool, freezing, low temperature, below zero… all have to do with cold weather.
  2. Learn word families together: for example from rain (noun) you can get to rain (verb) and rainy (adjective).
  3. Learn words that aren’t really about weather but are usually used when talking about it: for example suntan, air-conditioning (or AC), sunglasses, drought, fansunburn and heat stroke all have to do with hot weather.

What do you think of the UK weather? Tell us in the comments.