Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever heard somebody say that they are “falling ill?”

Have you ever been in a work setting and felt yourself getting sick?

Did you feel unsure of what to say or how to ask to go home in English?

There are so many ways of talking about being sick, and you want to know the right one to use.

We’re going to look at what you could say if you were getting sick in a work setting, and how you can ask to go home in English and get better.

We’re also going to look at the right approach and things to say to a boss or a coworker in this situation especially in the American workplace setting.

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Today we have a question about sickness and how to talk about it in English.

Dear girls, good day!

Thank you for the podcasts, they are amazing! I have been listening to it for a year on regular basis, and I don’t want to stop! But today I have a question for you. I am from Russia, and spring in Moscow is a time for diseases.

How could I say to my colleagues or my boss that I am not feeling well, like if I have the flu? Also what is the difference between get sick/ fall ill/ etc?

I’m looking forward to your answer and hoping not to fall ill.

Thank you in advance,


A Little Background

This is an important topic of conversation.

We’ve actually done a couple of episodes about being sick in English that are worth revisiting.

These are really useful episodes to look back at to understand how to talk about illness in English.

There are so many different ways that you can talk about illness, and we’re going to look at what you would say in a work setting.

If you show up to work and you are sick, you want to know the right things to say to your boss or your coworkers.

You may need to ask to go home if you’re really feeling ill, and so we need to look at what you might say in these situations.

Looking At Ways of Talking About This

When you think about it, there are certain things that you want to say when approaching this topic.

There are things that you want to know and say about being sick.

This is also a different angle because you are asking to go home so you can get better.

The truth is that nobody really wants somebody sick and spreading germs in the workplace.

When you feel yourself getting sick, you might be apt to say something like “I’m getting sick.”

In the example above, saying “I’m falling ill” is a bit more formal and really not used that often in conversation.

It’s important to consider if you are talking about being sick versus asking to go home early.

You may be asking for a favor if you need to go home, and so your approach is going to be very important.

Talking To Your Coworker

When you’re talking to your coworker it’s a bit more casual as this is somebody on the same level as you.

In this instance, you are likely telling them what’s going on with you rather than asking for permission.

There’s a chance that you may need their help with something if you go home, but it’s a much more casual conversation.

There are a few different approaches and things to say to a coworker if you are sick and you need to go home.

  • “Hey, I’m not feeling so well. I think I’m gonna head out early. Could you……(ask something- keep me posted on the meeting, let me see your notes from the meeting, etc.)?”
  • “Ugh I’m so frustrated with getting sick this season. I can feel my throat getting scratchy and I think I’m getting a fever. Can you cover for me this afternoon?”
  • “I hate to do this, but I gotta leave now. I can’t stop sneezing. Could you send me what you work on today and I’ll finish the rest from home?”

These are all great ways to talk to your coworker if you are getting sick, and it’s a perfect casual approach.

Talking To Your Boss

If you are talking to your boss, this may be a very different approach.

As with many professional issues, you want to use the right tone and the right approach to show respect towards your boss.

It’s a very different approach and conversation with your boss than it is with your coworker.

It’s likely to be a more formal conversation, though it depends on your relationship with your boss and the environment itself.

Keep in mind though that you are asking for a favor in some capacity because you don’t feel well and you want to go home.

There are a few things that you can say to a boss to get your point across and to ask for the favor of going home to feel better.

  • “Hello X. I’m so sorry to ask this but I think I have a fever and I feel pretty achy. I’m worried I have the flu and want to go to the doctor’s. Would you mind if I left early today? I’m so sorry to do this.”
  • “Excuse me X. I’m almost done with the presentation draft and expect to finish tomorrow or the next day. However, I can tell that I am losing my voice and don’t feel so well. I know it’s hard on the team, but would it be too much trouble if I left early? I will get as much done as possible before the end of the day on Thursday.”
  • “Would it be possible to work from home or make up the time tomorrow? I feel horrible and need to go home and rest so I can get better. I don’t want to get anyone else sick and I want to be able to give it my all after I feel better.”

These are all more formal and ask for a favor in the appropriate way.

Be sure to keep in mind that you are asking for a favor, and that you must consider the relationship and the atmosphere as you talk to your boss.


Of course these are LONG phrases, but go with the idea rather than memorizing the phrase.

Consider which fits the person that you are talking to and what you are asking for.

If it’s going to be an inconvenience then acknowledge that and use the proper formality for what you are trying to ask for.

If you have a lot of work to do, figure out a way that you will get it done and speak to this.

You want to use the right tone, right approach, and the right words to let your coworkers and boss know what’s going on.

You are asking for a favor, but nobody wants to get sick because of you either.

If you find yourself in this situation, just use the right approach and it may very well help you to get what you want so you can work on getting better.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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