10 Practical English Phrases for Worries and Relief


Everyday English Speaking Course

English phrases for worries and relief

1. I’m (really) worried about… I’m (really) worried that…

Use “worried about” + a noun. Use “worried that” + a subject/verb:

I’m really worried about the test. I’m really worried that I won’t pass the test.

2. I’m afraid that… / I’m scared to death that…

“I’m scared to death” is a more extreme way to express your fear:

I’m afraid that I’ll make a mistake during my presentation. I’m scared to death that I’ll forget everything during my presentation and just stand there looking stupid.

3. I can’t help thinking… / I can’t stop thinking…

Use “can’t help thinking” when there’s a thought that you know you shouldn’t have (usually because it’s illogical or untrue), but it keeps coming back into your mind:

I can’t help thinking that if I turn down this job offer, I’ll never have another opportunity this good.

Use “can’t stop thinking” when something is occupying your mind constantly:

I can’t stop thinking about my upcoming interview. I’m really nervous.

#4 – It’s been keeping me awake/up at night.

Use this phrase when your worries are preventing you from sleeping:

I’ve been worried sick about my kids’ problems in school. It’s been keeping me up at night.

#5 – What if…?

Use this phrase to express hypothetical bad situations that you are worried about (it can be in the past, present, or future).

Jason is two hours late. What if he got in a car accident? I’m not sure I can do such an intensive academic program. What if I fall behind in my studies?

#6 – Phew! / Whew!

This is an informal interjection we use in response to someone giving us good news that relieves one of our worries.

Teacher: Everyone in the class passed the test. Student: Phew! I thought I’d failed for sure.

#7 – Thank God! / Thank goodness!

These are also interjections that can be used for relief from both serious problems:

Doctor: The results of the exams show you don’t have cancer. Martha: Oh, thank God!

and not-so-serious problems:

John: The 4 PM meeting was canceled. Bill: Thank goodness – now I’ll be able to go home a little earlier.

#8 – You had me worried there. You had me worried for a moment.

Use this phrase when the other person is talking, and they start to say things that begin to worry you – but then they say something that relieves your worries. For example, if your mother is complaining a lot about her marriage, and you begin to suspect that your parents might get a divorce – but then your mother says “I would never leave your father.” You could then respond, “Well, you had me worried for a moment!”

#9 -You have no idea what a relief it is to…

Use this phrase to emphasize that the relief is very strong, or when the relief is greater than it appears.

You have no idea what a relief it is to know that my son has a stable job. He had a lot of problems as a teenager, and I was afraid he’d end up in jail or on the streets.

#10 – That’s a (huge) load/weight off my mind.

Use these phrases to express relief from a worry that had been constantly tormenting you:

Gina: Good news – the boss said we don’t have to write a 200-page report; a five-page summary will be fine. Christine: Phew! That’s a load off my mind. I’d been fretting about how on earth we were going to get that done by the end of the week.

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