Learning to speak English? Our Everyday Conversations help you practice. Click the audio link to hear a native speaker pronounce each word while you read. Key terms are explained, in your language, at the end of each conversation. Today’s conversation is about going to a doctor’s office.

Doctor: What seems to be the problem?

Cathy: Well, I have a bad cough and a sore throat. I also have a headache.

Doctor: How long have you had these symptoms?

Cathy: About three days now. And I’m really tired, too.

Doctor: Hmm. It sounds like you’ve got the flu. Take aspirin every four hours and get plenty of rest. Make sure you drink lots of fluids. Call me if you’re still sick next week.

Cathy: OK, thanks.

Language notes

  • What seems to be the problem? means “What is the problem?” Notice that the intonation falls at the end of the question. The doctor wants information, not a “yes/no” answer.
  • Well is used as an introductory word. Notice how the vowel is drawn out, to sound like “Weeeeeell…” This can be used as a way to “buy time” while you think about what you want to say next.
  • A bad cough…a sore throat…a headache: Notice the article “a” before each symptom.
  • About is used to mean “more or less.” It’s used here to give an estimate of time.
  • Take aspirin…get rest…Make sure…Call me: Notice the doctor uses the simple tense here to give instructions. This is the imperative form of the verb.
  • Still sick means “continue to be sick.”
Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help. And the U.S. Department of State has great resources for English teachers and students of all levels.