Oliver Pritchard looks at how to express happiness and celebrate
I’m known among my friends for my general love of life and my sunny disposition. Well, sort of. It’s not easy being happy. Even smiling makes my face ache. Since it’s The Bogotá Post’s first anniversary, though, I thought this edition we could share some fun language about celebrating and celebrations.
If you’re talking to English people, you may find that they sound quite reserved (when sober). Remember that they will usually be one level of happiness higher than the level their words imply. For example “I’m OK, yeah” means “I feel good at the moment”. This causes confusion between Brits and other English users, too, so don’t be surprised if it feels strange to you.
There isn’t really a good verb (like alegrarse) in English to indicate happiness: we use adjectives for this. Commonly, we use the structure make (object) happy.
Listening to Diomedes makes me happy.
Sometimes we use to please, but that often sounds quite Victorian, so be careful. However, we have lots of phrases for celebrate (see green box). A nice phrasal verb that students rarely use is look forward to. This describes something we are very excited about doing, seeing or going to.
I’m really looking forward to my holiday in Guyana!
I’m not looking forward to going to the dentist!
There are also a lot of adjectives that are used to describe happiness. We’ve given you a list of phrasal adjectives opposite, but also remember that happy is not the only word in the language. Try pleased or elated as alternatives. To go stronger than happy, try superlatives such as delighted, overjoyed, or buzzing.
There are adjectives close to happy, but slightly different in feeling. For example, excited and its synonyms such as thrilled. This gives us the idea that the person’s heart is beating, an active type of happiness. When happiness is internal and/or innocent, we can use words like joyous, jubilant, euphoric or ecstatic.
Adverbs are often used with adjectives of happiness. Quite, really, very and perfectly are commonly used with basic adjectives. With superlatives, try absolutely or completely
Be careful with:
Fun and funny – this is a common problem for Spanish speakers. Fun is close to divertido and funny is close to chistoso or gracioso. It might not seem important, but try changing the words in Spanish and you’ll see how it changes your sentence!
It’s fun to play football
(Although watching some people play football can be quite funny!)
Also, emocionante/emocionado translate as exciting/excited, not emotional!
Party is a very common word that almost all Colombians know, because it’s so important in Colombian culture! However, in English we don’t use make (mistranslation of hacer) for parties. We normally use have, but host or throw are possible as well.
A fun part of English for many higher-level students is using phrases and idioms that are typical of native-speaker speech. Here we’ve listed some of our favourites… and remember that there’s also plenty of non-word expressions to use that are basically the same, such as usssh; yahoo!; hurrah!; cashback!; whooo!; yippee!; etc.
|Adjective phrases (as in – he/she is _______ ) to describe happiness:
As happy as a pig in mud – imagine how happy a pig would be!
|Verb phrases to say you’re having fun:
Have a whale of a time – whales are massive, so you’re having a LOT of fun!
|To celebrate – often with drinks:
Paint the town red
|To express how good something is:
It’s the bee’s knees