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3 min read
Collin O'Brien
December 18, 2023
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3 min read

How to talk about feeling tired in English

In English, there are numerous ways to express our fatigue, and this article will explore some of the common phrases and expressions used to convey our tiredness.
How to talk about feeling tired in English

How to talk about feeling tired in English

Tiredness is something we all experience at some point. Whether it's from a long day at work, a lack of sleep, or simply pushing ourselves too hard, we've all felt that overwhelming desire to crawl into bed and recharge.

In English, there are numerous ways to express our fatigue, and this article will explore some of the common phrases and expressions used to convey our tiredness.

Formal expressions

In formal settings like work events or professional gatherings, it's important to choose our words carefully when expressing tiredness. Saying a straightforward "I'm tired" might come across as too blunt.

Instead, opt for more refined phrases like "Please excuse me, I need to get some rest," or "I’m feeling a bit fatigued. Would you please excuse me?" These expressions demonstrate your respect for the environment while still conveying your need for rest.

Other polite alternatives include phrases like "I’m tuckered out" for those over 40, indicating a low energy level. Additionally, phrases like "I’m drained," "I’m bushed," or "I’m spent" can be used to convey the complete depletion of physical or emotional energy.

Man looking very tired

These expressions are perfect for situations where you want to communicate your exhaustion in a considerate and refined manner.

Informal expressions

When it comes to speaking with friends and family, formality often takes a back seat. In these casual settings, we can freely express our tiredness with phrases like "I’m beat," "I’m worn out," or "I’m dead tired."

For instance, if a friend calls you and asks for a favor shortly after you've finished a long day at work, you can respond with "I can’t take you now because I’m worn out," or "I had to work overtime today, and I’m beat."

A very tired man at work

These expressions allow you to communicate your exhaustion in a relatable and informal manner.

However, be cautious with the phrase "I’m pooped," as it can be easily confused with saying "I pooped," which refers to going to the bathroom. So, be mindful of the context in which you use it to avoid any unintended misunderstandings.

Figurative expressions

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a state of fatigue so profound that ordinary expressions don't quite capture its intensity. In these instances, figurative expressions come into play. Phrases like "I’m dead tired," "I’m dog-tired," or "I’m wiped out" convey the notion of being "on your last legs," meaning you're exhausted to the point of collapse.

A cute dog falling asleep

Other figurative expressions include "I can’t keep my eyes open," "I can barely keep my eyes open," "I’m running on empty," "I’m running on fumes," "I’m dead on my feet," and "I desperately need some rest."

These phrases vividly describe the deep sense of fatigue and the desperate need for rest. They allow you to express just how thoroughly drained you feel, both physically and emotionally.

Expressions for sleep and drowsiness

When you're ready to go to bed, you can use straightforward expressions like "I’m going to bed" or "I’m going to hit the sack." People over 40 often use the phrase "hit the hay" as well. On the other hand, younger individuals might say "I’m going to crash now" or "I’m ready to pass out" to indicate their readiness for sleep.

For example, if a friend complains about your unresponsiveness to their messages the previous night, you can reply with "I was dead tired, so I crashed early," or "I was passed out." If you still haven't slept, you can say, "I’ll call you back later. I’m about to pass out," meaning you're about to fall asleep.

Another common situation where tiredness arises is during long drives. When drowsiness hits, you can say, "I’m so drowsy."

Woman in a car falling asleep

It's important to address this feeling promptly and responsibly, especially for safety reasons. You can suggest taking a break by saying, "I’m a bit drowsy. Let’s stop at the next rest stop to get some shut-eye," which means getting some sleep.

Expressions for temporary sleep

If someone falls asleep suddenly, even for a short period, phrases like "dozed off" or "nodded off" can be used. For instance, you might say, "I was reading a good book until I dozed off," or "After the kids came home from the amusement park, they just nodded off."

Days when your energy is low and you're moving slowly can be described using expressions like "I’m dragging today" or "I feel so sluggish."

For younger individuals, phrases like "I’m done" or "I’m running on empty" are common ways to express tiredness. For example, after an all-night study session, a student might say, "I’m done right now. I’m about to sleep for a week" or "I’m running on empty. I’m going to sleep."

Tom sleeping on a pillow

In English, there are countless ways to express your fatigue, allowing you to accurately convey your level of tiredness in various social contexts. Whether you're in formal settings, having casual conversations, or describing extreme fatigue, these phrases will help you articulate your need for rest effectively.

So, the next time you find yourself yearning for some shut-eye, remember these expressions and choose the one that best captures your exhaustion.