Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

There are many ways in English to say something is funny.

You need the vocabulary to express this on the IELTS exam.

Today we’ll share a common mistake students make on IELTS Speaking.

We’ll teach you the vocabulary you need to avoid this error.

Common IELTS Speaking mistake

Students often use the word “amusing” in the wrong context

Mistake: “I find The Office to be amusing. I always laugh so hard when I watch it.”

Native speakers do not use “amusing” to mean extremely funny.

This is confusing because the dictionary defines it as causing laughter.

Today you’ll learn how we use “amusing” and vocabulary that does mean extremely funny.

However, the way we use this word has evolved.

#1: Amusing

Amusing means slightly entertaining.

In fact, it’s often used to express that something wasn’t very funny or entertaining.

If you weren’t impressed by a movie you might say, “It was amusing but I didn’t love it.”

Someone described as “amusing” is not extremely funny or fun to be around.

#2: Hilarious

Instead of “amusing,” this word can be used to express that something is extremely funny.

It can be used to describe people, events or other things.

On IELTS Speaking part 2, you may need to describe a person or experience.

Mark is absolutely hilarious. I always bust a gut when he tells a story.

  • bust a gut: to laugh very hard

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#3: Hysterical

Another word used to mean something causes laughter is “hysterical.”

This word can also be used to describe both people and situations.

It could be useful on both Speaking Part 1 and Part 2.

We went to a stand-up comedy show that was hysterical!

#4: Uproarious

This vocabulary word is often used to describe loud boisterous laughter.

The crowd’s uproarious laughter was deafening!

You can also use it to describe something that causes loud laughter.

I love uproarious humor! Sometimes I just need to laugh!

#5: Dead

A trendy slang term is to say you’re “dead” when something is very funny.

This stems from the older phrase “dying of laughter.”

Both of these can be used to describe how funny something is.

Every time my friend Jenny tells a story I’m dead!

I was absolutely dead!

IELTS Speaking questions

So many IELTS questions will require you to talk about something being funny!

Here are a few examples:

What kind of TV shows do you enjoy watching?

Did you watch the same kind of shows when you were a kid?

What is something funny that happened to you recently?

Are you a funny person?


You need to be ready to describe something that’s funny on the IELTS exam.

These answers can cause a common student error!

Many students use “amusing” to mean extremely funny, but it has evolved to no longer be used this way.

Instead, use one of today’s vocabulary words.

For all the strategies you need for IELTS, sign up for our online IELTS course.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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