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Kiwi asks…

How can I use "sore", "pain", "-attack" and "-ache" in different situations? What are the differences between those words?

Answer from a Native speaker



Great question. First, the word "ache" is usually used for discomfort in your body that goes on for a period of time. Generally, we use it with a specific part of the body, such as a headache, a stomachache, a toothache, an earache. You may also hear it used after particularly long or hard physical work, such as exercise. An ache is usually not very strong, so you may be able to ignore it. Ex: My muscles really ached after yesterday's workout. The word, "pain" is usually used for stronger, more sudden, and more difficult to ignore discomfort. If you were to cut yourself or hit your head on something you would feel "pain". If you exercise and you injure yourself you would feel a sudden "pain". Note: We also have the expression “aches and pains,” which describes general and various physical discomforts that you may experience every day. "Sore" is usually used to talk about an injury caused by rubbing, such as a blister that has burst. As an adjective it describes a more intense pain than an ache, often (but not always) a pain that is not felt unless the affected area is touched. Ex: He has a sore on his foot from ill-fitting shoes. Ex: Ow!! Please don't touch my arm, it's sore. "Attack" is usually used for something that is sudden (not predictable), extremely painful, and possibly life-threatening. Ex: My dad had a heart attack and is in the hospital. Ex: She had a panic attack and couldn't breathe.

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