COVID-19: Talking About Coronavirus in English - Vocabulary & Expressions


Today, I'm connecting to you from my home, and maybe you're watching or working from

your home during this time of the coronavirus.

Wherever you are, I hope you and your family are all safe and well and yeah, this is a

difficult, challenging time for all of us and we have a lot of information coming at

us, so much information, so fast that it can make us feel confused and worried and scared

sometimes, right?

So, there's also a lot of new vocabulary, and old vocabulary that's being used in different

ways, so I wanted to help you to understand this vocabulary in English and also to be

able to speak about it to your friends, your colleagues or even to medical staff if you

need to, alright?

So, this video is going to be a little bit different from our usual lesson, but I'm going

to try to give you a lot of information that I hope will help you, alright?

So, first of all, just a few points.

As you know, I'm an English teacher, right?

I'm not a doctor and I'm teaching you English.

I am not giving you any medical advice.

Second, when it comes to your health, it's so important that you communicate and listen,

hear, understand in your own language as much as possible.

When it comes to your health, you want to be as clear as possible about the instructions

that people give you, okay?

So, whenever possible, use your own native language for that purpose.

However, if you live, right now, in an English speaking country and you need to understand

what's being said around you about this virus by the medical authorities, by the media,

then this video will definitely help you and also, if you just want to use this time to

improve your English, to be able to understand more of what's being said, to be able to discuss

this issue, the problems, the issues, the solutions, okay?

Then, again, this lesson will give you many of the words and concepts that you need to

be able to do that, okay?

So, let's get started.

So, first of all, let's start with the name of this illness.

Officially now, it's called COVID-19.

That comes from the words "coronavirus disease 2019", alright?

So, how do we say that somebody has the virus or this illness?

We can do it in a number of different ways.

For example, you could say, "He has COVID-19", or, you could make it negative and say, "He

doesn't have COVID-19".

Another way you could just say, "He has coronavirus", or "He doesn't have coronavirus", okay?

They're using different terms for this illness.

They're saying "COVID-19", "coronavirus", "the coronavirus", "the new coronavirus" "the

novel coronavirus", "novel" just means "new", okay?

So, you might hear different expressions for this illness itself.

Another way you could say it is, as I said, "She has the coronavirus.", instead of just

saying "She has coronavirus".

Both ways are being used.

Or, "She doesn't have the coronavirus", alright?

A little more formal way they often use and you might hear on the news is "They tested

positive for the coronavirus", or "They tested negative for COVID-19", so if somebody tested

positive, it means they have the virus, and if they tested negative, they don't have the

virus, alright?

Let's go on from there.

So, what are some of the symptoms that people might have if they have this illness?

So, what does the word "symptoms" mean?

It means that you're showing some kind of physical or mental signs of this illness,

and what are some of those common symptoms of the coronavirus?

First one is a cough.

What's a cough?

Something like this [coughs], right?

You know that.

And you saw, of course, and you know because I'm sure you get this advice in your language

that if you need to cough, or if someone is coughing, they should cough where?

In the bend of their elbow, okay?

This is your elbow, you should cough in here.


That's a cough.

How do we say that, how do we use that in a sentence?

He has a cough.

Another symptom, a cold.

What's a cold?

You know, when your nose is running and you're going [sniff] all day long, okay, or you take

a tissue and you blow your nose, alright, then you would say: She has a cold.


Another symptom: sneezing.

What does it mean to sneeze?

I'll try to show you: achoo!

Okay, again, into this part of your elbow.

He is sneezing, is how we would say that in a sentence.

Next is a fever.

What does it mean to have a fever?

It means your feeling, you know, warm or hot, right?

So, how would we say that?

You would say: She has a fever.

He has a fever.

And, what is - what are some of the other words connected to having a fever?

Basically, having a temperature, okay?

So, you could also say: He has a temperature.

Temperature just measures the amount of heat in your body, right?

Or, if somebody - if you tell somebody that someone has a fever, probably the next question

will be "What's his temperature?", or "What's her temperature?", or "What's your temperature?"


So, we could say "His temperature is 39 degrees.", or "His temperature is 101 degrees", okay,

there's different measurements, right?

Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Another symptom is a body ache.

What does it mean to ache?

It means to hurt, right, your body feels sore, so the other way you could say that in a sentence

is "Her body hurts", okay, if you're describing to someone else what's happening to someone.

A person might also feel fatigue.

Fatigue just means very, very tired, okay?

A lot of exhaustion, a lot of tiredness, and the way we would use that in a sentence, really,

is just to say or to convey this meaning is to say, "He's very tired", alright, or "He's

feeling very tired".

Also, you might - the person might experience difficulty breathing.

What does it mean to breathe, okay?

To breathe is like this.

Of course, you don't have to close your eyes like I just did, you can just — . Okay?

This is breathing.

So, if somebody's finding it hard to breathe, you could say, "It's hard for her to breathe."


So, those are the symptoms.

Now, let's look at some more advanced words, some more advanced nouns that are being used

about this subject.

So, three very common advanced words that are being used are the words "outbreak", "epidemic",

and "pandemic".

So, think of is this way, first of all.

An outbreak is like this, an epidemic is like this, and a pandemic is like that, alright?

So, an outbreak is when something happens suddenly, so a lot of people are affected.

In this case, how were those people affected?

They got a disease, okay?

So, there was an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Next, when the outbreak spread to more people or other areas, it became an epidemic.

Then, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

The WHO stands for World Health Organization, alright?

And they declared, they said, that now, this disease has become a pandemic.

So, that means the epidemic now spread to an even larger area, maybe even all over the

world and became a pandemic.

So, another word that you might hear a lot is that the health authorities took various

measures to deal with this situation.

So, measures here is just, like, actions or steps, alright, that they took in order to

try to control this problem.

Another word is transmission.

They wanted to limit the transmission of the virus.

So, transmission just means the spread of the virus, the passing on of the virus to

other people, to more people, okay?

Transmission, alright.

Let's continue.


So, a lot of people are being asked to go into isolation if they have the virus.

So, isolation means that somebody has to be alone.

They have to be away from everybody else for health reasons.

So, people who have the coronavirus must be in isolation.

They must be away from everybody else.

Another word that's being used, which is similar in meaning but a little bit different is the

word quarantine.

So, people who are - who might have the coronavirus are asked to be in quarantine.

So, here also, they're being asked to stay away from other people because maybe there's

a chance that they have the virus.

For example, suppose somebody went on a flight and then they found out that somebody on the

flight had this virus.

So then everybody else who flew on that particular flight might be asked to go into self-quarantine,

just in case they are infected by this virus, okay?

So, you'll also hear these kinds of words.

You should self-isolate, you should self-quarantine.

That means you do it to yourself, by yourself.


Another word is lockdown.

A lot of cities and countries right now are either in lockdown or under lockdown or on


We use different prepositions there.

What does that mean?

You probably do know because it might be happening where you are, or somewhere else that you've

read about.

It means that people are not allowed to go where they want.

Schools, shops, offices, businesses, restaurants, movie theatres, and lots of other places are

shut down, okay?

Also, maybe travel is restricted.

There are many different aspects to a lockdown.

A word - a kind of technical word that's being used but a very important word, expression

is really community spread, or community transmission.

So, this happens when a disease spreads in the community, but the health authorities

don't know how people got that disease, okay?

And they're very concerned about community spread.

The next word I know you probably do know for sure, face mask, right?

The white mask that people are wearing, many people are wearing, face masks.


So, those were many of the nouns that we hear - we're hearing today on the news.

Now, let's look at some of the verbs, okay?

To declare a pandemic.

What does that mean?

We talked about it, the WHO declared a pandemic.

That means that they said or they announced something officially and publicly, alright?

Another verb, to ban, to ban large gatherings.

What does it mean, to ban?

It means to not allow something.

For example, many things are being banned.

Large gatherings, many people are not allowed to come together in one place.

There's a limit on how many people can be together at one time.

So, large gatherings are banned or, in many countries today, international flights are

also banned.

International travelers are banned.

Not allowed, okay?

Also, in many places, travel is being restricted, okay?

To restrict means what?

To limit it, okay?

Not to stop it altogether, to ban means to stop it completely, but to restrict means

to control it, to limit it, to limit travel, for example, to allow only some and not all

people, okay?

So, some flights to come in, maybe.

To restrict something.

What's also happening nowadays is that many countries are sealing their borders.

To seal, to seal means to close completely, okay, to close the borders, and the border

is what?

It's like the line that divides different countries.

So, many countries are closing or sealing their borders.

We're being asked also to avoid contact with others.

To avoid something means to try not to do that.

So, when they say avoid contact, right, touching, contact with other people, in order to keep

yourself safe and to keep other people safe.

Let's look at some more verbs here.

Many people are stocking up on groceries, on food, on toilet paper.

So, what does it mean to stock up?

When people stock up, they're getting a lot of something to use in the future, alright?

Maybe normally they don't buy that much, but now they're buying a little bit more, they're

stocking up for the future.

That's okay and that's a little bit natural and normal and it's going on everywhere.

What's not okay is the next word, to hoard goods.

To hoard means to buy much, much more than you need and that is not looked at in a positive

way, because if you hoard food or groceries or toilet paper, then you have more than you

need, but maybe other people don't have anything.


So, stocking up is okay, hoarding is usually looked at in a more negative way.

What's also happening is that a lot of non-essential businesses are being shut.

To shut a business means what?

To close it.

Just like you shut the door, you can close the door, you can shut a lot of non-essential


What does that mean?

An essential business is something that's absolutely necessary, okay?

So, right now, supermarkets are still open, many gas stations are open, okay?

Because they're considered essential and necessary, otherwise where would you go to buy your food,


But non-essential means what is not absolutely necessary.

So, many non-essential businesses are being shut.

Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and so on.

Next, another verb, to cancel.

Lots of things are being cancelled right now.

Schools, schools are cancelled, universities are cancelled, conferences are cancelled,

all kinds of things are being cancelled.

So, what does it means to cancel something, is to decide that something is not going to


It's cancelled, alright?

The other word is to postpone.

Sometimes, something is not cancelled, but it's postponed.

So, to postpone something means to delay something, to plan to have it at a later date.

For example, just this morning, I heard that the Olympics have currently been postponed,


So, they're not cancelled, but they are postponed or delayed until later.


Also, please remember that some of the things that I'm telling you are true today.

Maybe they're not going to be true tomorrow, but on the day when I'm doing this lesson

for you, it's true.

It may change just like so much is changing, alright?

Another verb which you can use and which you will hear is to control, to control the spread

of the virus.

So, to control the spread of the virus means what?

To limit, to limit the spread, okay?

Make it as little as possible.

Another very simple - sorry, similar word but a little more advanced and formal is to

contain the transmission.

So, if I say to control the spread or to contain the transmission, it really means the same

thing, it's just fancier English.

To contain in this case means to control or limit the spread, the transmission, of the

virus, alright?

Another verb which you can use is to develop symptoms.

To develop means to start to have symptoms.

And what are symptoms, remember?

We said symptoms are a sign, physical or mental sign of an illness.

So, what happens when someone develops serious symptoms?

Usually, they test.

To test the patient, or to test people, and that means simply to check if they have COVID-19,


And one of the reasons we are asked to stay at home as much as possible is to protect

the vulnerable.

So again, you understand all these words, okay, in your own language, because I'm sure

you're getting the same news.

All you're doing now is you're matching up the words you've been hearing in your language,

maybe, to the words, the same ideas in English, okay?

So, to protect the vulnerable means to keep safe people who are older, who are unwell

or ill, or who are just weak, they're not as healthy.

Vulnerable refers to this group of people, alright?

So, let's move on from there to a few more verbs.

So, you might hear people when they're speaking casually saying that I'm going to hunker down

at home.

What does that mean, to hunker down?

To hunker down, it kind of means to stay in a safe place for some time until something

is over, or danger passes.

That's how they're using it right now, okay?

Well, I'm not going to go out.

The health authorities are saying we should go home, we should stay at home, so I'm just

going to hunker down and stay here for a long time or for some time until this is all over,



They're asking us to do this to take care of our own health and also to protect the

vulnerable and other people.

Another verb which we're hearing a lot of today is to livestream.

To livestream a press conference.

So, what does it mean to livestream?

This is a general word, it's not just connected to the coronavirus, right?

So, to livestream means to show live on the internet through video and audio, something

that's happening somewhere, right?

Maybe somebody's giving a press conference, the health authorities are speaking.

The media is there, the cameras are there, and they're broadcasting it to you live so

you can watch it as it is happening.

And now, this is an expression that a lot of the health experts use.

They say to flatten the curve, and the idea here is that they're trying to prevent a lot

of people from getting sick at the same time, and to try and spread it out so that, instead

of, for example, 100 people getting sick at one time and then the hospitals are very busy,

having, let's say, ten people getting sick over many days so that the hospitals are not

as busy.

So, the expression, to flatten the curve, refers to the graph that they show that if

you're showing how many people are sick or ill at a particular time, the graph might

look like this, and this is a curve.

So, if they want to flatten the curve, right, they want it to go down like this so that

they can extend the time when people get sick and have more resources and hospitals and

doctors and medicines and test kits available for more people.

So, you might hear very often this expression, to flatten the curve, alright?

Let's move on, okay?

I know, so much vocabulary, right?

But also, so much opportunity to learn this specific vocabulary which will be used in

this context but also in other situations.

So, let's look at some adjectives now that are being used very often.


So, they may say the virus, the COVID virus, is contagious.

This just means that it can pass easily or pass to others, alright?

It's contagious, it can pass on to others, other people can get it.

Another adjective, confirmed.

Confirmed means yes, for sure, for certain.

For example, she tested positive, it is a confirmed case.

That means they don't have any doubt, they're saying yes, it's right, it's confirmed, it's

true, it's a confirmed case.


Next, we have a kind of pair of words.

One is symptomatic, the other one is asymptomatic.

So, this comes from the word which we learned in the beginning, right?

Symptom, symptom is what?


A sign of an illness, physical or mental.

So, if you're - if someone, not you, if someone is symptomatic, it means they're showing some

of the signs of the illness, okay?

People are - people who show signs of illness are symptomatic, but people who don't show

any signs of the illness are asymptomatic.

That means they are not showing any signs of the illness.


Another pair of words that are often used are mandatory and voluntary.

For example, it's mandatory for him to be in isolation.

So, mandatory here means he has to be, he has no choice, okay?

He has to do it, he must do it, it's mandatory, alright?

The other word is voluntary.

When something is voluntary, you can choose, you can decide whether to do it or not, okay?

For example, and again, this might not be true everywhere, it is voluntary to work from

home, alright?

In some cases, remember, right now, depending on your city, your country, it might not be

voluntary, but in some places, it might be voluntary to work from home, that means you


Another word is fatal.

So, if something is fatal, it means people can die from that.

For example, COVID-19 can be fatal.

It can kill people.

They can die, alright?

That's what the word fatal means.

The noun of that is fatality.

Another word we're hearing a lot at this time is unprecedented, and this means, well first,

let me give you a sentence with it, maybe you'll understand by yourself.

All these events are unprecedented in my lifetime.

So, what it means is that they have never happened before in my life.


When something is unprecedented, it has never happened before, okay?


So, let's move from there now to some of the recommendations and suggestions that we're

hearing from the health authorities in different parts of the world to help us during this


We're being asked to maintain social distancing.

Now, that has a lot of different meanings and I will go into it very soon, but it means

to do many things or take various steps to basically stay away from other people, alright?

We'll look at that in a second.

We're being asked to avoid contact with people who are sick or unwell.

To avoid means to try not to do something, right?

So, try not to have contact with people who are unwell.

Stay away from people who are not well.

Of course, we all know we're supposed to do what with our hands?

You know, wash our hands frequently with soap and water.

Frequently means often, okay, not just a few times, many times, wash our hands with soap.

And, if you don't have soap and you're outside, we're being asked to do what?

Use something called hand sanitizer, it's a special liquid you can use to clean your

hands, alright?

Next, we're talking about - we're also being told to avoid touching our face or mouth or

nose or eyes, to prevent ourselves from getting sick, alright?

Trying not to do something.


Another recommendation, we're being told again, we talked a little bit about this, to cough

or sneeze into a tissue, right, tissue paper, we can cough or, if we don't have a tissue

paper close to use, we can cough or sneeze into the bend of our elbow.

Also, we are told, do not visit vulnerable people.

You know now vulnerable people are the elderly, elderly is a nice way of saying old people,


The elderly, people who are unwell or weak, alright?

So, those people we want to avoid visiting because it's easier for them to become sick

than healthier people, okay?

And we're being told that we should, as much as possible, work from our home.


So, I told you I would talk a little bit more about the social distancing, so let's do that.

So, what does that social distancing?

Again, I'm sure you know in your own language.

Let's try to put an English take on it.

So, it means do not get close to other people.

We're being asked to stay at least two meters or six feet away from other people, as much

as possible.

Don't touch other people, don't visit other people, don't invite a lot of people to your

house or, really, anybody to your house, and don't go out socially, okay, don't go to restaurants,

don't go to clubs, don't go to crowded places.

In any case, in many places, all of these places are currently closed, so you don't

really have the options, but sometimes people are still going out to beaches and parks and

if there are too many people there, then that is not a good thing according to the health


So, we're being told to avoid, try our best not to, and stay away from large groups or

crowds, to avoid public transportation, because of course, buses and trains and subways can

be very crowded and we don't - we're not supposed to be in those situations, and in general,

to avoid travelling, okay?

Whether it's locally or internationally.

Of course, you know that a lot of airlines have cancelled their flights, they're not

flying to different countries, and a lot of countries have sealed their borders so anyway,

the airlines cannot fly there.


So, what are we being told to do?

We should stay home, work from home, keep in touch with other people by phone, by video,


Just because we're at home or maybe even unwell or isolated or in quarantine, it doesn't mean

you can't talk to other people on the phone or by video, and we should do that, you should

do that.

Keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues, so you don't feel lonely.

You might be alone, but you don't need to feel lonely or sad or bad, okay?

Try to stay positive and happy, that's my suggestion, as much as possible, with all

respect to everything that's going on.

And why are they asking us to take these measures, or these actions, or these steps?

To reduce or lower the chances of catching the virus and reduce or lower the chances

of passing it on to other people, okay?

So, you want to avoid catching it and you want to avoid passing it on to anyone else.

Alright, let's look at some things that you might hear people saying, okay, these days.

They may be saying, oh, this situation is unprecedented.

You know what it means, right?

We talked about it; it means it's never happened before.

That's also why people are feeling really nervous and scared and confused.

It's a lot, it's so much happening, right?

They might be saying, oh, these are very unpredictable times.

Unpredictable means you cannot say what's going to happen tomorrow, alright?

There's a lot of uncertainty.

You can't be sure, you can't be certain, alright?

So, people are using these kind of sentences and expressions to talk about the situation.

People might be saying something like, you know what, I'm really concerned about my health.

I'm concerned about my family.

I'm concerned about my job.

So, what does it mean to be concerned about something?

To, like, be worried, okay?

To be a little bit worried about it, or very worried.

Many people, as you know, are losing their jobs or have lost their jobs or have been

laid off, so they may be really concerned about their finances also, their money.

Or, at a different level, people might say I'm concerned about the economy.

I'm concerned about the world.

So, the economy, of course, refers to any kind of activities that are related to trade

or industry or work that people do to make money, okay, within a country.

People might also be saying things like this: I hope the situation improves soon, or I hope

and pray that everything will be alright, okay?

People are expressing their views, their ideas, their feelings, their emotions in many different

ways, so these are some of the common expressions and sentences you may hear.

So, what can we do?

Let's try to stay calm, right?

Calm means don't panic, stay cool, okay?

Take it easy.

Stay as positive as you can.

It's good for you, it's good for your health, good for people around you if we try to stay

positive instead of being too, you know, stressed out, alright?

Try to stay positive.

Follow the advice of health experts and local authorities about what to do, and these rules

and regulations, another word for rules, are different in different parts of the world,

so pay attention to your local news always, and your national news, not just the international.

Make the most of our time, okay?

Let's do that.

Many of us feel like we're kind of stuck at home, but maybe it's - we can use this time

to do some things.

We can all use this time to do some things that we've always wanted to do.

Maybe you can work on your English.

Maybe you can learn something else that you've always wanted to learn.

Use your time in a positive way so that you can still feel that you're moving forward

in your life in some way, alright?

You're not stuck.

You might be at home, but you're not stuck.

That's your attitude, alright?

Let's take care of ourselves.

Let's take care of ourselves, first of all, alright?

Because you can't help somebody if you're not well, so take care of ourselves, our families,

and do things to help us all to relax.

Whatever that means for you, okay, maybe you like to meditate.

Maybe you like to do yoga, you could read a book, you could listen to music - peaceful

music, maybe, or whatever music makes you happy.

Watch movies, watch a show, okay, do some things to feel good.

So, keep your heart happy, keep your mind happy, right?

And let's be kind, be nice, be kind, be helpful to each other.

Let's take care of each other and help each other as much as we can through these difficult,

uncertain days, alright?

So, what could you say to others?

Suppose you're working somewhere and you're working from home, but you are in contact

with your colleagues, with your manager or other people, or even just family and other


So, some expressions that you can use at this time, at the end of a conversation usually,

is something like be well, stay healthy, stay strong, alright?

Simple expressions.

Be well, stay healthy, stay strong, okay?

And last of all, on behalf of all of us at , I would just like to say

thank you for always caring about learning and growing and becoming better and better,


It means so much.

We're all fine here at and we wish all of you the same.

May you, your family, may you and your family stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong.

Thank you so much.