ill v sick

What's the difference between ill and sick? This is a difficult one because there is sometimes little difference but I'll try to explain.

Ill implies a more serious condition that lasts longer.

  • He's been very ill. (He was off work for a long time)
  • As soon as I started to feel ill, I went to the doctor (I had symptoms and the doctor told me what I had)
  • I got ill while I was on holiday. ( I discovered what I had when i returned from holiday)


Sick implies a less serious condition that doesn't last long. It can also mean to vomit.
  • He's off sick today. He'll be back tomorrow. (He didn't come to work)
  • If you don't feel well, you should call in sick. (Phone your work to tell them you are not going to work today)
  • I think I'm going to be sick. (= vomit)
Is that any clearer?


When were you last ill?


How many days were you off work sick last year?


Have you ever phoned in sick to work (thrown a sickiebut you weren't really sick?


What do you do when you feel ill? Are you a good patient or are you always complaining?

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