MiR 047 Shorts – Are You Nauseous or Nauseated?


Welcome to the Mark in Russia podcast network, episode #46, and I’m your host, Mark. This episode is part of my series of “Shorts” and by this I mean approximately 5 minute long podcasts which are aimed at explaining a Quick Grammar Tip.

You should go to the website, http://www.markinrussia.com and look at the show notes and vocabulary. You’ll get more out of the lesson if you are able to follow it in writing.

Today’s grammar tip deals with the two words “nauseous” and “nauseated”. These two words are very often confused by native speakers of English and therefore, unfortunately, the mistake is then passed on to foreign speakers of English.

Let’s look at some examples:

“The smell of car exhaust makes me nauseous”  Wrong

“The smell of the sick person’s room made me feel nauseated” Correct

I’m one of the native speakers of English who misuse these words; actually, it’s a very common mistake for Americans to make.

Let’s look at definitions for a moment: nauseous is related to the object or situation which make you feel sick to your stomach, so in the first example, “The smell of car exhaust makes me nauseous”, what is actually implied is that as a result of car exhaust, you become someone who makes other people sick to their stomach, kind of a screwed up situation. So, the word “nauseated” should have been used here. “Nauseated” is how you feel after being exposed to something “nauseous”.

Remember, if you are talking about feeling sick, use “nauseated” and when you are speaking about something which makes you feel sick, use “nauseous”.

Some more examples:

”Often before a big exam I feel nauseated.”

“The nauseous week old hotdog made me feel nauseated.”

“After drinking alcohol all night and then running the 10 Kilometer road race the following morning, I was nauseous” This sentence is wrong if you are describing how you felt, but correct if you are describing how you made other people feel. I think I would feel nauseated standing next to this person after the end of the race.

OK, now it’s “disclaimer time”. Many modern dictionaries will tell you that either of these would be correct and that they are interchangeable. This is due to “common usage” of the words. I happen to be a believer that it is better to learn the correct usage of the word, rather than wait until enough of the “unwashed masses” are using it incorrectly and then enact the “common usage” concept.

I fully understand that the language is alive and that changes are made and that new words are added to the language, but I feel that it is better to do this out of necessity, rather than laziness and ignorance.

Let me give you an example of “common usage”, the expression is LOL or “Laughing out loud”. Although this is used primarily in informal writing, especially social networks, I have heard it in spoken speech, pronounced in such a way as it rhymes with “pole”. A note to my foreign learners of English; don’t use this even in writing. It makes people seem fairly ignorant. When I see this LOL, it makes me want to take a baseball bat to them and see if they are still LOL. Well, I digress.

So, if you feel the need to write to me in order to tell me that both words are OK to use, or that you don’t appreciate my sense of humor, don’t waste my time. I’m not going to pretend that I’m interested in your insults and I’ll just delete your letter before it ever sees the light of day.

Thanks for listening through to the end of my podcast and I hope that you return next week to listen to my next Quick Grammar Tip. Until that time, Thanks and Goodbye!

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