How to talk about the weather in English

How to talk about the weather in English

by Adriana Stein

Updated November 10, 2022

If you’re searching for the easiest topic for small talk, talking about the weather is the perfect default – and not only with native English speaking countries, but for anyone you speak English with. Weather is one of the first topics you’ll learn in an English class so the vocabulary is quite easy, plus it’s a topic that everyone can share their opinion about without offending anyone. So, if you meet someone new and have no idea what to say, start talking about the weather!

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General weather vocabulary

Here is an overview of popular weather vocabulary:

rainrainy, shower, drizzle, flood, pouring
sunsunny, warm, bright, clear, boiling, tropical, humid, hot
cloudscloudy, foggy, overcast, gloomy, grey
windwindy, breezy, blustery, hurricane
snowsnowy, blizzard, hail, sleet, snowflake, frosty, chilly, cold, icy
stormstormy, lightning, thunder, thunderstorm

Weather grammar

Now we can go over the basics of weather grammar. There are three different weather-related grammar categories for talking about the weather in the present tense:

Grammar FormulationExamplesExplanation
It is + weather adjectiveIt is cold.It is windy.It is sunny.General weather adjective in present tense
It is a + weather adjective + day/timeIt’s a rainy afternoon.It’s a nice day today.General weather adjectives in present tense for a certain time of day
It is + weather verb + -ingIt’s snowing now.It’s raining out there.Describes how the weather is at that exact moment in present continuous

When talking about weather in the past, the grammar follows the same basic grammar rules for past tenses, with the exception that we typically don’t use present perfect simple to describe the weather. 

Grammar FormulationExamplesExplanation
It + weather verb (-ed) + past timeIt was cold yesterday.It rained last week.Simple past (completed time period)
It + weather verb (has +been + -ing) + ongoing time period.It has been snowing since yesterday.The sun has been shining for the whole week.Present perfect continuous (started in the past and is ongoing)
IncorrectIt has snowed since yesterday.The sun has shined for the whole week.Present perfect simple (we typically don’t use)

Furthermore, there are also two different ways of describing weather in the future:

Grammar FormulationExamplesExplanation
It + will + weather verb + future timeIt will rain tomorrow. It will snow tomorrow.Future with weather verb
It + will + be + weather adjective + future timeIt will be rainy tomorrow.It will be snowy tomorrow.Future with weather adjective

Describing the exact temperature

There are also differences in how to describe the temperature in different countries due to the the use of the imperial and metric measurement systems.

The majority of countries in the world use the metric system. For example, in the UK they would say, 20 degrees is a normal room temperature. It is very cold out, minus 5 degrees.

In the US here would be the difference: 70 degrees is a normal room temperature. It is very cold out, negative 23 degrees. Note the word “negative” here for US English. If you visit America, make sure to use the imperial system, because otherwise they might have trouble understanding you.

There are further general differences between US and UK English, which you can learn with Lingoda Sprint.

Phrases for starting a conversation about weather

Now we can go over how to put this vocabulary and grammar into actual phrases for starting small talk conversations about the weather. Here’s a helpful list to get you started:

  • “Can you believe all this snow (replace with other weather type) we’ve been having?”
  • “Did you order such great (replace with other positive weather adjective) weather?”
  • “Such a beautiful day today, isn’t it?”
  • “Man this weather lately is rough.”
  • “How are you holding up through all this snow (replace with other negative weather adjective)?”
  • “This sun is just what the doctor ordered!”
  • “Are you a cold weather or hot weather person?”
  • “I love this sunny weather, how about you?”
  • “What’s the weather like where you’re from?”
  • “Did you survive this cold winter (replace with other negative weather type)?”

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