Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
verb to miss in natural English

Have you heard people talk about missing somebody in English?

Have you also heard them say that they “missed a train?”

It may feel as if “miss” is a confusing word in English, and that’s because there are multiple uses for it.

We’re going to look at the various uses for the word “miss”, how you can use it properly in conversation, and why it’s such a complex and yet important word in English.

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We have a great question from a listener about the word “miss” that will be really helpful to review.

Hi Lindsay and Michelle, thanks a million for covering the conditionals.

I have another question and its about the verb “miss”. I’ve tried to use this verb twice in conversations with my native friends, and somehow I failed! I had to stop and change the sentence structure in the middle of my conversations, and it felt awful.

Here are the two cases that I was confused in:

1) I wanted to say Amy is not here otherwise she would ask good questions! I started by saying “Amy is missing…” and all of a sudden I felt it was wrong, so I stopped and reworded my statement.

2) I wanted to say when you were on vacation we missed you. I started as: “You were missed” and it sounded weird even to me saying it out loud.

I guess I dont know the difference between: you were missing, you were missed, you’ve been missed, we are missing you, and we missed you. I really would appreciate it if you could help to clear it up to me as to how “miss” is used in different ways.

You are the best girls,


Background On This Word

The word “miss” is used quite often, and you will hear it a lot in conversation.

You want to understand the different uses for it, so that it isn’t confusing.

It’s not that there is a wrong usage for the word, but it is used in a variety of ways.

We’ve actually done an episode that talks about the word “missing” which can be helpful to review.

One Huge Mistake You’re Making When It Comes To Missing The Bus

The biggest thing that you have to keep in mind with the word “miss” or any use of it is context.

That is what will help you to know which use is correct, and more importantly how to use it in conversation.

Look at the following two sentences and you can see how the way you use “miss” and the context which it is used in matters greatly.

“I missed Amy when she left for college.”

“Amy’s not here anymore? I guess I missed her!”

Though the uses are slightly different, the meanings and the way in which they will be taken vary greatly.

Slight Differences To Understand

The tricky part about the word “miss” is that the differences can be quite subtle.

Sometimes you have to break it down and look at it to see which meaning is trying to be portrayed.

You may not be able to do that while you’re in conversation, but looking at those differences now can help you when you need it.

You may find it very useful to look at the questions from the listener because they are a good comparison for the word “miss.”

There’s really nothing wrong with them, though the second example is a bit awkward only because it’s passive but it’s still okay.

Sometimes you have to go with what sounds right to you, and you might even recognize when a particular usage doesn’t feel right in conversation.

Miss is a complicated word because it has a lot of different meanings, and that’s why people struggle with it.

By looking at some of the uses for the word “miss” it may help you to understand them and use the right one at the right time.

Looking At The Various Uses

It can be quite helpful to look at the various ways that the word “miss” is used in a sentence.

You’ll want to see what the various uses are and how to use them, so let’s get into it.

  • You didn’t get/see something: For whatever reason you didn’t see it or didn’t have a chance to do it. You may have made a mistake or it was a simple and unintentional oversight. You could say something like “I missed the shot” or you might say “I must have missed you!” Other ways to use it may include “Oh no. I have a missed call.” or “I missed the turn.”
  • Something is lost/not sure where it is: You can’t locate something that you are looking for. This could be a thing or a person, as you might think of this with a missing person advertisement. You need to find the whereabouts of this missing person or thing. You might say something like “I’m missing my phone” or “Help me! My dog is missing.”
  • You are nostalgic for something or someone or a person is away or a place/something is different: This person or thing may have been a part of your life, and now they are not. It may be temporary or it may be something that you once had that is no longer yours. You miss that person or thing, and you are trying to express that emotion. You could say “I’ve missed you so much.” or “I miss my old house.” or even “Come back soon–I miss our daily runs!”

These uses can really help you to see when you might use it and why context matters so much.

Seeing Each In Context

You now understand the uses, so you may find it useful to take it one step further.

Let’s break it down a bit further based upon usage.

You will find that the listener example gives you a great starting point with breaking down the way in which you can use the word “miss.”

  • You were missing: This sounds like “you weren’t there.” It sounds as if you were not there and you missed out on something. You “missed out” may also work in this context.
  • You were missed: This sounds like “people felt sad you were away.” You weren’t where others were and they missed your presence. This says a lot about you as a person.
  • You’ve been missed: This is the same sort of thing as “you were missed.” It’s a positive because it says that your presence was missing out on an experience or an event.
  • We are missing you: People feel your lack of presence and this is a very straightforward way to say it. This is very conversational and it tells it like it is. You may more likely say “we miss you.”
  • We missed you: Though you are back now and things are back to normal, this says that in the past you were missed at something that you were not at. This is more about a specific event of some type.

In general the idea is that this is a complex word and you have to listen for the right context.

Think to yourself–is this emotional (missed a person) or is it practical (missed the train)?

If you think about which usage might work and what the conversation is about, it will be a huge help. 

Roleplay To Help

Since there are multiple uses for this word, a roleplay can prove to be quite helpful here.

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are best friends who spend all their time together.

Lindsay is away on a three month job assignment and they are finally catching up on the phone.

Lindsay says: “Michelle! How are you?”

Michelle says: “I’m good, but I miss you! How is everything?”

Lindsay: “It’s good! I definitely miss home, but I love it here.”

Michelle: “Ugh. I can’t hear you. Hold on. I’m missing one of my ear buds. OK got it. So that’s great!” 

Lindsay: “So I went to this new restaurant- I actually met up with Laura! The food was so good. We were thinking of you. You were definitely missed.”

Michelle: “Awww thanks Lindsay. I’m so sorry I missed your call the other day, by the way.”

Lindsay: “Don’t worry about it. Oh shoot, my Uber just missed me. He drove right past me! Gotta go!”


You got a chance to look at some of the basics, but there is so much more.

This is a word that is very important to understand the context for so that you know which usage is best.

Try using the word in different ways, and see how it sounds and which one works best.

Think about what you are talking about right before you use it.

Think of how you may have used it in a recent conversation, and then reflect on that and the way in which it was used.

You now know some of the basic uses for the word “miss” and so you can change it up based on how you want to come across.

If you can think through this beforehand, then you are sure to use it properly and it will really add to your conversations.

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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