English conversations: How to talk about housework
In this lesson you’re going to learn some really useful housework vocabulary.
But first of all, what is housework?
Be careful not to confuse it with “homework” – the work your teacher gives you to do outside the class. Housework refers to all those jobs at home like cleaning, washing up, ironing…..
In this short lesson, you’ll learn some useful housework vocabulary, then watch a short conversation about the topic.
Finally, you can try our little quiz to see how much you’ve remembered.
Level: Pre-Intermediate to Upper Intermediate (A2-B2)
1 Do the ironing
If you “do the ironing”, you iron your clothes, and make them flat with a hot device called… an iron! For example, “I ironed six shirts last night.”
2 Make a bed
If you “make the bed”, you arrange the sheets, blankets or duvet so it looks neat and tidy. For example, “I make my bed every morning.”
3 Clean / do the cleaning
If you “clean” something, you wash it, so it isn’t dirty. You can clean a room or an object. For example, “I cleaned the kitchen and all the windows.”
4 Clean up
If you “clean up”, you make a place completely clean. For example, “We need to clean up the house.” There isn’t much difference between “clean” and “clean up”. We use “up” to mean completely. You can also “clean up” a mess. This is when you take the clothes and things on the floor and put them in a cupboard, wardrobe, etc.
5 Mop the floor
If you “mop the floor”, you use a long object with a wet cloth at the end to clean and wash the floor. For example, “I mopped the floor.”
6 Do the washing up
If you “do the washing up”, you clean the dirty plates, bowls, cutlery (knives, forks, spoons)… For example: “I couldn’t do the washing up because there was no washing-up liquid (Fairy).”
7 Cabinet & hinge
Here are a couple of other words to help you understand the video:
A cabinet = a cupboard with shelves or drawers for putting things: cups, plates, cutlery…
A hinge = a small metal mechanism attached to a door and the wall that allows the door to open and close. There are usually 2 or 3 hinges on each door.
8 Do versus make!
One final interesting thing, a lot of housework jobs are with the verb to do: do the ironing, do the cleaning, do the washing up, do the washing, do the floors…
However, as always with English, there are exceptions: make the bed!
Now watch the video. Elsie and Monty are arguing about the housework. Apparently, this is second most popular topic for couples to argue about, after money of course. Remember, for the first time, you should watch the video from start to finish without stopping and try to understand as much as possible. After that, you can watch it again, pausing or stopping it wherever you like. [answers below]
1 Has Monty cleaned the kitchen?
2 Has he done the ironing?
3 Has he made the beds?
4 Has he cleaned the windows?
5 Has he mopped the floor?
6 Has he changed the internet provider?
7 Has he bought some new hinges for the cabinets?
Try our little language quiz to see how much you can remember. [answers below]
Complete the sentences with the correct words.
To tidy things by returning clothes to a cupboard, etc. = to clean up a _______
To wash a floor with a long object with a wet cloth at the end = to ______ the floor.
To clean the dirty plates, etc. = to do the _______ up.
To make clothes flat with a hot device = to do the _______.
To arrange the sheets and blankets on your bed so it looks nice = to _______ a bed.
To wash a room or object so it isn’t dirty = to _______ an object.
Elise: So, have you cleaned the kitchen?
Monty: I, erm, haven’t, haven’t cleaned the kitchen, but I erm did the ironing, I made
the beds, and then I cleaned the windows last week.
E: Yeah, but you were supposed to clean the kitchen by Sunday, and today is Sunday.
M: Today is Sunday.
M: Erm, yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t do that, but I’ve been very busy cleaning up the mess
that you left actually.
E: What mess did I leave?
M: Erm, plates, pillows, all these kinds of things. I don’t know what you’ve been doing.
E: I think those were yours, actually, when you had friends, erm, erm over last week.
M: I did have some friends over, yes that’s right.
E: And you said you’d mop the floors, and you have definitely not mopped the floors.
M: Yeah, I’ve been pretty busy, yeah? Remember, I said I was going to change the
E: And did you do that?
M: Not yet.
E: And you didn’t get new hinges for the cabinets either. They still won’t close all the
M: No, no, no. But erm feel free to get some hinges yourself if you want.
E: You said you would pick them up at the store this week.
M: Yeah, I’ve been too busy erm… cleaning the kitchen!
E: It’s not clean!
M: It’s not clean, is it?
no; 2. yes; 3. yes; 4. yes; 5. no; 6. no; 7. no
mess; 2. mop; 3. washing; 4. ironing; 5. make; 6. clean