At the Doctor’s

English at the Doctor - health vocabularyUsing English at the Doctor’s

When discussing illnesses and other issues with a medical professional there are certain words and phrases we need to use.

For non-native speakers, using English at the doctor’s can be a challenging task. Explore the common vocabulary used at the doctor’s and phrases you may hear and need to use.


Vocabulary for the doctor’s surgery

The body:

Head, face, eyes, eye lashes, eye brows, nose, nostrils, ears, lips, mouth, tongue, chin, cheeks, forehead, hair

Neck, shoulders, chest, breasts, back, spine, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, knuckles, finger nails

body parts vocabulary

Stomach, hips, bottom/backside, thighs, knees, shins, calves, ankles, feet, heels, toes, toe nails

Muscle, tendon, bone, skeleton, spine, vein, artery, brain, heart, liver, kidney, bladder, bowel, lungs, blood, sweat

Arms and legs are called ‘limbs’

Fingers and toes are sometimes called your ‘extremities’

General words describing the body’s internal workings

Cardiovascular system (blood circulation), circulatory system, circulation, anatomy, physiology, muscular system, pulmonary system (relating to the lungs), cardiac muscles (heart)


Describing Pains

Headache, toothache, stomach ache, nausea, sickness, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea, constipation, faintness, shortness of breath, cramp, period pain, tiredness

If you are not sure about vocabulary, use the phrase ‘I have a pain here …’ or ‘it hurts here …’ while pointing to the affected area. This will be enough to explain to a doctor what is wrong.

It is useful to learn some basic body parts so you can explain better what is wrong when talking to the doctor.

When you make an appointment you will usually see a GP (General Practitioner) or a nurse. If you have a health emergency that cannot wait for an appointment, you should go to A&E (Accident and Emergency) at your local hospital.

Phrases you might want to use:

I’d like to see a doctor
I’d like to make an appointment
I’ve got a stomach ache / sore throat / pain here …
I’ve been feeling sick / ill / faint / tired
I’ve been getting headaches / diarrhoea / pains
Do I have to take time off work?
Will I get a sick note?


Phrases you might hear

Do you have an appointment?
Have you got a European health insurance card?
Please take a seat
What seems to be the problem?
What are your symptoms?
Does it hurt?
Let me listen to your chest (using stethoscope)
I’m going to take your blood pressure / temperature / pulse
I’m going to give you an injection
I’m going to prescribe some antibiotics

Nurse - Doctor - English health vocabulary

Share your thoughts on health vocabulary and communicating at the doctor’s

Which general phrases do you find most useful when talking to the doctor?

Have you ever had difficulties communicating with a doctor in an English speaking country?

What other health vocabulary would be useful?

Let us know your ideas and thoughts in the comments.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *