It is a truth universally acknowledged that the British are obsessed with the weather. Although the people of the British Isles seem reserved and restrained, upon mentioning the weather they immediately jump into conversation.
Undoubtedly, the fascination of the Brits with the weather comes as a result of its unpredictability. From one hour to the next, it is almost impossible to predict whether you’ll need an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses. And, if you ever visit Britain’s capital, don’t be surprised if you wake up on a gloriously sunny morning only to be prevented from your afternoon walk because of a drizzle.
However, talking about weather is not only a result of a necessity and an everlasting need to prepare for what the day may bring. It is a nice way to engage in a casual conversation, avoiding matters that are too personal. Certainly, weather is a common ground even for strangers. Hence, it is a perfect topic for small talks where it is essential to establish a connection and build a relationship in just a couple of minutes.
As any other social skill, making a small talk can be easily learned. Here we explain the most common conversation starters related to weather as well as some phrases useful for providing your conversation with the elements from the native speaker atmosphere.
If you wish to bring the weather into the conversation, probably the best way to start off is to simply ask: “How do you like this weather?”
Of course, the responses may vary depending on the attitude of the other speaker, but you’ll often hear something like: “You can have it”, by which it is meant that the weather is not too good for the speaker. It is also a fine idea to introduce a dose of sarcasm into your conversation. For instance, on a dull rainy day you could say:
“Nice weather we’re having”.
You can expect the answer to be as sarcastic as your question:
“Yes, lovely weather for ducks”.
By saying this, the speaker implies that there must be someone who likes the weather. It’s just not him.
If you want to be more illustrative of the weather, you could use raining cats and dogs or raining stair-rods to say that is raining heavily.
On the other hand, there is the time of the year when it is unusually hot and dry. This is called Indian summer.
It is often the case the case that weather prevents us from completing some daily tasks or plans. The phrase weather permitting is used to express our fears that something will not go as planned because of the weather. Hence, you may hear:
“Weather permitting, we’ll go on picnic”.
On the other hand, we can use the phrase come rain and shine to imply that something will happen despite the circumstances. For example, you can tell your beloved one: “I’ll be there for you, come rain or shine”.
There are some idioms not directly related to expressing weather conditions, but the way someone feels. For instance, if someone is under the weather, then that person is probably ill.
And, if you have a fair weather friend, then this friend, being present only on happy occasions, is not very reliable company.
Also, every once in a while we ride out the storm. This means that we have successfully overcome some difficulty in our lives.
Occasionally, we love making heavy weather of doing something. This happens when it takes longer time than it is necessary to complete something.
Similarly, if there’s a tempest in a teapot, this means that a lot of exaggeration has been made to an unimportant event.
Sometimes, it seems that words alone are not enough to provide comfort and consolation for those in need. Therefore, if you wish to encourage your fellow friend, it would be nice to say “Every cloud has a silver lining”. By this, it is meant that there is certainly a way forward for anyone struggling with difficulties.
Undoubtedly, weather plays an important part in our lives, hence so many phrases directly or indirectly connected with it. Why wouldn’t we take the best out of it and have a fine conversation even with some strangers? Who knows--perhaps an effortless conversation about the weather could even become a lasting friendship.
Are you familiar with some additional useful weather phrases? Share them in the comments.
References: Siefring, Judith. The Oxford Dictionary of Idioms. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. Print. 5 English Idioms with Interesting Historical Origins available at http://saundz.com/5-english-idioms-with-interesting-historical-origins/
Up to you or down to you? Some Differences between British and American English Idioms available at http://www.italki.com/article/126/up-to-you-or-down-to-you-some-differences-between-british-and-american-english-idioms
Hero Image by Lipton sale (CC-BY-3.0) from Wikimedia Commons