The coronavirus has been on everyone’s lips (everyone’s been talking about it) for the last year. When the coronavirus pandemic hit (started), our world completely changed. People stopped meeting friends, restaurants and entertainment places closed, and we all started doing much more at home. Now that we have been in the pandemic for more than a year, there is plenty of coronavirus vocabulary that we all use every day that we didn’t even know about in January 2020. Our lives have changed significantly (a lot). Many of us are still spending most of our time at home, but hopefully we will be moving out of the pandemic soon and back to normal!

Whether you’re at home or moving back to normal, there is plenty of useful coronavirus vocabulary to know. Here you’ll find some of the most useful and most common coronavirus vocabulary in English. Which of these do you use most often?

Work from home

Here in Germany, it is common to say “home office” when you are working from home. However, the correct way to talk about when your home becomes your office is work from home, or working from home. In English, a “home office” describes a room that you have set up as an office. If you work from home, you can work from anywhere in your house — whether that be your home office or your couch. Have you been working from home during the pandemic?

For example:

  • I asked my boss if I could work from home on Tuesday because I have an electrician coming that day and I need to be there to let them in.
  • My entire office has been working from home since March. Most people on my team like working from home more than working from the office!

Quarantine

Quarantining is something we have all gotten very used to lately! A quarantine is the restriction of people or movement to prevent (stop) the spread of disease. If you have been tested for the coronavirus, it is likely that your doctor will ask you to quarantine at home until you get your result back. This would mean that you would only see the people you live with, and would likely (probably) have to stay in your room by yourself. This would be to prevent the people around you from potentially getting sick. We hope you haven’t had to quarantine this year!

For example:

  • When I moved to a new country with my dog, we had to put the dog into quarantine for a week to make sure he wasn’t sick. The government didn’t want any other pets getting sick.
  • My roommate had to quarantine in October. She had flu symptoms, and her doctor tested her for the coronavirus. She had to quarantine until she got the results. Luckily, the results were negative!

Curfew

Did your local government put a curfew in place? A curfew is a rule saying that people have to be home by a certain time of night. Right now during the pandemic, some places have put curfews in place to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, a curfew can also be used by parents to tell their (usually teenaged) children when they should be home. When you were growing up, what time was your curfew?

For example:

  • The mayor put a curfew in place between 9pm and 5am to try to keep the coronavirus from spreading. We’ll have to see if it works!
  • When I was a teenager, I had a curfew of 11pm. I always had to be home by 11pm, and if I was going to be late, I had to call my parents and let them know.

Contagious

Contagious is a very important part of coronavirus vocabulary, and one that can be used every time you get sick. If someone is contagious, they are in the period of being sick where they can make other people sick. Depending on the sickness, you can be contagious at different stages (times, parts). Other sicknesses aren’t contagious — such as cancer. This means that these sicknesses are not spread from person to person. The coronavirus, on the other hand, can be very contagious, which is why governments have put restrictions in place to keep it from spreading.

For example:

  • I was sick with a cold last year, and was very contagious. My boyfriend caught my cold and got sick, too.
  • She caught the coronavirus from a coworker who was contagious. Luckily she didn’t have it too badly!

Vaccine

A vaccine against the coronavirus is the thing we have all been waiting for! A vaccine is a substance that is used to make people immune to (can’t get sick from) certain diseases, or to make people less vulnerable to (potential to be harmed by) a disease. There have been a few vaccines that have been developed (made) to fight the coronavirus. Once most people are vaccinated, we won’t have to have restrictions anymore. Finally we’ll be able to return to normal! Will you be getting a vaccine?

For example:

  • He had to get a yellow fever vaccine from his doctor before he flew to Peru. It was a requirement to enter the country.
  • I can’t wait to get the coronavirus vaccine. I’m excited to be able to go home and see my family!

How much of this coronavirus vocabulary do you use in your day-to-day life? Are there any other vocabulary words you think would be useful to help you talk about the pandemic? Tell us in the comments below!


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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and has gotten a lot of reading done during the pandemic since everything else is cancelled!

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