It's true! British people often start a conversation with strangers and friends by talking about the weather. As weather is a neutral topic of conversation, it's usually safe to use it to strike up a conversation - at the bus stop, in a shop, or with a neighbour over the garden fence.
Talking about the weather - conversation starters
"Lovely day, isn't it!"
"Bit nippy today."
"What strange weather we're having!"
"It doesn't look like it's going to stop raining today."
Attitude to weather
Although British people like to complain about bad weather, they generally "put a brave face on it".
If someone complains about too much rain, you might hear:
"Never mind - it's good for the garden."
If someone complains that it's too hot, you could hear:
"At least my tomatoes will be happy."
If the conversation has been about general bad weather, perhaps someone will say:
"Well, I've heard it's worse in the west. They've had terrible flooding."
Predicting the weather
When we're talking about the weather, we often make predictions. Remember to use a range of forms - not just the "will" or "going to" form:
"I think it'll clear up later."
"It's going to rain by the looks of it."
"We're in for frost tonight."
"They're expecting snow in the north."
"I hear that showers are coming our way."
We also attribute human features to the weather, almost as if the weather can decide what to do:
"The sun's trying to come out."
"It's been trying to rain all morning."
"It's finally decided to rain."
Understanding the weather forecast
Many British people are keen gardeners, and they keep a close eye on the weather forecast. Here are some of the weather features which can worry gardeners:
a hard frost = when the grass is "white" in the morning
blizzard / galeforce conditions = when it's very windy
hailstones = when it rains "ice"
prolonged rain = when the rain continues for a long time
blustery wind = when the wind is strong
a drought (pronoucned "drowt") = when there's no rain for a long time
Here are some English words for more temperate weather conditions which gardeners like:
mild weather = when it isn't too cold
sunny spells = when there's sun for periods of time
light drizzle = when there's light rain
Talking About the Weather Quiz
Level: Elementary and above
- The weather can be funny, strange or unusual.
- Although there are four seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) we talk about the time of the year.
- If the weather ''clears up'' it will stop raining and become nicer.
- We often use the ''going to'' future to talk about events we can predict based on what we see now, in the present. In this example, because we can see dark skies and hear thunder (present evidence) we think a storm is going to happen in the near future.
- ''By the looks of it'' = from what I can see.
- A ''spell'' of weather = a period of weather. So ''sunny spells'' means some times when it will be sunny (but not all day).
- ''Be in for'' = going to have. ''We're in for rain'' = we are going to have some rain.
- If weather is ''mild'', it isn't hard or extreme. If you have a mild winter, maybe it isn't very cold, or there isn't much snow.
- We often talk about the weather almost as if it is human and able to decide its own actions. For example ''The sun is trying to come out'' = the sun wants to come out and to shine!
- The noun ''weather'' is uncountable, so you can't have ''a''. (Remember: uncountable nouns don't have indefinite articles.) But you can say ''a lovely day'' because the noun ''day'' is countable.