Nov 11

Expressing feelings in IELTS

Band 7+ language for writing and speaking about feelings in IELTS

The structure ‘SUBJECT + to fill + OBJECT + with + a feeling/emotion’ can be used to show feelings about a possible future situation or a situation which is not true at the moment.

This structure can be used in IELTS Speaking and Writing and can be found in the Reading and Listening exams.


a) The thought of having to live in a high-rise apartment block fills me with dread ( = it makes me feel very afraid).

b) The idea of having to have a medical operation under a general anesthetic fills many of us with fear ( = it makes them feel very scared).

c) The prospect of a future without oil and gas fills some leading experts with concern ( = it makes them feel worried).

d) The thought that there are human beings willing to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons fills me with disgust ( = it makes me feel sick and angry).

e) The possibility of travelling to the planet Mars one day fills scientists with excitement ( = it makes them very excited).

f) When I was a child, the thought of living in the countryside when I grew up used to fill me with joy ( = it made me feel very happy). However, as I have grown up I have come to realise that city life has its advantages.

g) Ever since I received notification that I was going to lose my job, the thought of having to apply for other positions has been filling me with misery ( = it has made me feel very unhappy).


This structure is often used with ‘The thought/ idea/ prospect/ possibility of + -ing’. The verb ‘to fill’ is usually used in the present simple tense but other tenses such as ‘filled’, ‘used to fill’ and even ‘has/have been filling’ are possible. The OBJECT is often an object pronoun such as ‘me’ or ‘them’, but other OBJECTS such as ‘most of us’, ‘leading scientific experts’ or ‘everyone I know’ are possible.

A similar structure can be used to express your feelings about a situation which really happened in the past or which happens sometimes:

a) I must admit that the recent election results filled me with dismay/despair ( = they made me lose hope and feel very pessimistic).

b) An article which I have recently read online about modern-day slavery has filled me with horror ( = it made me feel frightened and angry).

c) Whenever I see somebody throwing litter on the street, it fills with me fury ( = it makes me very angry).
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