How to Use Swear Words in English

swear-wordsAre you scared of swear words? Are you unsure of when to use them? It’s good to be cautious, because it’s delicate issue.

Swear words can be one of the most difficult parts of a language to master, as you have to be careful when practicing them. Some people may get really offended by their use.

But even if you don’t want to use swear words, you still need to understand them as they are quite common in the English language. You may not say them, but you still want to understand what’s going on during TV, a movie, a book, a conversation or any other type of English you may be trying to understand.

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Why Use Swear Words?

Swear words, love them or hate them, are an integral part of a language. To master fluency, you must master swear words.

But why do people use them? What’s the point?

When you use swear words, they allow you to convey emotion that would otherwise not be as easy to communicate. Swear words increase your vocabulary and give you a wider range of emotions to invoke than if you didn’t use any.

Some swear words are extremely versatile and can be used in many different ways. When you begin to overcome your negative gut-reaction, you may start to see the beauty in all of these amazing swear words.

Of course, it’s important not to overuse swear words, just like you wouldn’t want to overuse any word. However, because some swear words are so interchangeable, it can become easy to just rely on a few swear words as the majority of your vocabulary.

The most important lesson to take home from swear words is to just notice how they make you react and ask yourself why these feelings arise inside you.

Below is a list of the nine most common swear words in English with the many different ways in which they are used.

It’s important that when you practice swear words that you do it with close friends who can help guide you towards the proper time and place to use them. But when in doubt, use them with people who are near your age.

NOTE: PG stands for Parental Guidance, meaning it’s appropriate for all ages. It’s used in movies as a rating of who should see the movie. The PG tag will help you convey the same meaning without vulgar. 

Translating Swear Words

It’s almost impossible to translate swear words, because they are so colloquial and unique to the culture. However, we will do our best to help you understand the words in relation to Portuguese. If you have any suggestions or better translations please feel free to let us know in the comments!

1. How to Use DAMN

Listen to Part 1 (DAMN)

 

A light swear word, can be said on TV and radio. Damn means to condemn (a person) to suffer eternal punishment in hell, but is more commonly used when expressing surprise or disgust.

PG version – darn 

Different Uses

God Dammit: To express pain, sadness or anger.

  • God dammit / damn / dammit

Damn You: To express that you are upset with another person.

  • “Hey man, I lost your phone.”
    Damn you (to hell!)

“Daaaam”: Expression of awe or wonder.

  • ‘Woah, check out the sunrise.”
    Daaaaamn.”

Damn: Expression of dismay or disappointment.

  • “I can’t find my keys.”
    Damn….”

To Give a Damn: To express how little you care.

  • “Hey, what do you want for dinner?”
    “I don’t give a damn.” (non-vulgar: I don’t give a care)

Damn Well: Expressing agreement and encouraging action.

  • “I think I’m gonna call her today.”
    You damn well (better)!”

Damn (Adj): To add a feeling of stigma/negativity to a noun.

  • “That damn teacher gave us a ton of homework.”

2. How to Use HELL

Listen to Part 2 (HELL)

 

Another light swear word, can be said on TV. Hell is a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often described as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the evil people go to be punished after death.

PG version – heck

Different Uses

When Hell Freezes Over: To express how unlikely it is for an event to occur.

  • “Hey man, do you think Julia will go out with me?”
    “Yeah, when Hell freezes over.” or “You got a snowball’s chance in Hell.”

Go to Hell: Expression of anger.

  • “I want to break up with you.”
    Go to Hell!”

To Hell with it: It’s not important.

  • “I can’t find my car keys”
    To hell with it, I’m going to walk”

Hell Yeah: Used as emphasis for yes/no questions.

  • “Do you want to live in another country?
    Hell yeah!” (non-vulgar: heck yeah)

3. How to Use ASS

Listen to Part 3 (ASS)

 

Different Uses of ASSAss can be said on TV, but asshole cannot. Ass is another word for buttocks or anus, but is commonly used to describe someone who’s rude or mean. Can also be used to refer to a donkey or mule (burro) in a non-vulgar way.

PG version – butt

Different Uses

Make an Ass: To make oneself look foolish.

  • “Did you see Johnny pick his nose on TV?
    “Yeah, he made an ass out of himself.”

My Ass: No way / yeah right / I don’t believe you.

  • “Yeah so guess who I met yesterday.”
    “Who?”
    “Ethan, from RealLife English.”
    My ass!”

Asshole: A stupid, mean, or despicable person (usually a guy)

  • “That dude just knocked my papers out of my hands and didn’t stop to help or even apologize!”
    “What an ass(hole).”

Ass-load: A lot / Quite a bit

  • “There was an ass-load of people there last night.”

Badass (1): A person who shows supreme confidence, nearly divine ability, and a frequent disregard for authority.

  • “Damn, Chad is one tough, bad ass.”

Badass (2): Another way to say cool.

  • “That movie was bad ass!”

Kiss my Ass: A sarcastic insult to anyone who wants something from you.

  • “Hey you! Get back here!”
  • Kiss my ass.

Ass (Adj): Is also used as an adjective amplifier:

  • “Dude, check out those hot ass bitches!”
  • “Damn, look at those ugly ass teeth!”
  • “Get ready for this hard ass test!”

Recommended: 34 Ways to Use the Word Ass

4. How to Use PISS

Listen to Part 4 (PISS)

 

Piss is a vulgar term for pee or urine.

PG version – urinate

Different Uses

Pissed: Used to describe anger.

  • “I’m pissed off!

Pissed: Another word for drunk (used in British English, not American).

  • “He was pissed last night.”

Piss Off: To express you want to be left alone.

  • “Hey, you want some help?”
    Piss off.

Piss Down Rain: To show how hard it’s raining.

  • It’s pissing down rain” (Check out the video 5 ways to say it’s raining below)

Suggested: 30 Uses of the Word PISS

5. How to Use BITCH

Listen to Part 5 (BITCH)

 

Bitch can mean someone who whines and complains a lot or someone who’s angry (usually in regards to a woman).

PG Version – bitch literally means female dog.

Different Uses

To Bitch: To whine or complain.

  • “These pants are too big, mosquitos keep bitting me, I don’t like this place.”
    “Hey, stop your bitching.”

My/ Your/ His Bitch = Servant

  • “You’re the boss’s little bitch aren’t you?”

Bitch Out: To yell and criticize.

  • “My wife just bitched me out over the phone.”

Bitchin’: Cool / Fun

  • “Dude, the party was bitchin’ last night!

Something is a Bitch: to be Difficult

  • “Life’s a bitch.”

Bitch Please: As a response to a stupid comment.

  • “Give me $20.”
    “Bitch please.”

To Ride Bitch: The middle seat in a car.

  • “Hey Jim, you’ve got to ride bitch because you’re the smallest.”

Bitch Slap: To slap someone with the back of your hand.

  • “Did you see that?! She just got bitched slapped!”

Recommended: The Essential Guide to the Word BITCH

6. How to Use COCK / DICK

Listen to Part 6 (COCK/ DICK)

 

Cock can also mean a male chicken (rooster), though it it’s not as common to use it this way. The most common use of cock for rooster is where two roosters fight each other, called cock fights.

Dick can be used to mean penis too, but it’s also short for the name Richard. I have no idea how they got that..

PG version – penis

Different Uses

Cock Block: To deny someone an opportunity to hook up with a girl.

  • “Dude, that girl just grabbed her friend and took her away from.”
    “What a cock block.”
Dick: A mean or selfish person.
  • “That dick took up two parking spots.”

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7. How to Use SHIT

Listen to Part 7 (SHIT)

 

A vulgar word for fecal matter.

PG version – poop

Different Uses

To be Shit: Can mean both horrible or great.

  • “That movie was shit!” and “that movie was the shit!” are opposites. When “the” is added into the front of “shit,” it becomes really good, the best of the best. Note that there is an emphasis on THE in “the shit.”

Up Shit Creek: To be in an extremely bad situation.

  • “That sounds horrible!”
    “Yeah, I was up shit creek.

(Holy) Shit: Expression of surprise, dismay.

  • (Holy) shit!

Shit-Faced: To be extremely drunk

  • “You seemed pretty drunk last night…”
    “Yeah, I was totally shit-faced.”

Eat Shit: An insulting way to say no.

  • “Excuse me sir, would you mind filling out a quick survey?
    Eat shit!

Shit out of Luck: To have no luck what-so-ever.

  • “Oh no, my cell phone died!”
    “Damn, we’re shit out of luck!

Dumb Shit/ Shit for Brains: Someone who’s not very smart.

  • “Hey dumb shit / shit for brains!

Get Your Shit Together: Calm down, rise above your problems.

  • “Stop crying, man. Get your shit together.”

This Shit: Used in place of stuff / thing(s).

  • [Looking for an email, but all you see is spam]
    “I ain’t got time for this shit!

Bullshit: To express disbelief.

  • “I have three girlfriends.”
    Bullshit!” (B.S.)

Shoot the Shit: Small talk / not talking about anything important.

  • “What were you guys talking about?”
    “Oh, we were just shooting the shit.”

To Be in Deep Shit: Big trouble.

  • “The cops are coming!”
    “Damn, we’re in deep shit.”

Taste Like Shit: Horrible.

  • “Have you tried my casserole?
    “Yeah, it tastes like shit.”

Know Your Shit: To be very smart.

  • “Damn, those Real Life guys really know their shit.”

A Shit Ton (of Something): To emphasize ton (do a lot of something)

  • “I got a shit ton of work done today.”

Recommended: How to Really Use the Word SHIT

8. How to Use CUNT / PUSSY

Listen to Part 8 (CUNT/ PUSSY)

 

Vulgar words for vagina. Cunt is a derogatory term for a woman, considered by many Americans to be the most offensive word in the English language—not the case for Australians, they frequently use the term. Pussy can also be used when talking about a “pussy cat.”

PG version – vagina

Different Uses

Pussy: “What a pussy.” – means you are afraid, “what a chicken” has the same meaning without being vulgar.

Cunt: a stupid, incompetent person. “Shut up, you cunt.”

9. How to Use FUCK

Listen to Part 9 (FUCK)

 

Fuck is one of the most interesting a malleable words that there is. It can be used to describe almost anything.

The Word Fuck that will tell you all you need to know about the word fuck. Below there is a semi-transcript of what is said in the video.

Fuck is often used to add emphasis and is the only word that can be an adjective, adverb, adverb enhancing an adjective, a noun, as part of a word, and almost every word in a sentence.

Fuck can be used to describe pain, pleasure, hate, or love.

PG versions – frick, screw, the f word, fudge

Different Uses

Adjective: “Why am I doing all the fucking work?”
Adverb: “That girl talks too fucking much.”
Adverb enhancing adjective: “Those Real Life parties are fucking awesome.
Noun: “I don’t give a fuck.” (I don’t care at all)
As part of a word: “Abso-fucking-lutely.” or “In-fucking-credible.

And, as almost every word in a sentence, “Fuck the fucking fuckers.”

It can be used to describe…

Fraud—”The car salesman fucked me over.” (me fudeu)
Dismay—”Ahh fuck it.” (foda se)
Trouble—”I guess I’m totally fucked now.” (estou fudido)
Aggression, pain—”Don’t fuck with me dude or I’ll fuck you up.” (não fode comigo)
Inquiry—Who the fuck was that? (Que porra que essa?)
Dissatisfaction—I don’t like what the fuck is going on right now.
Bewilderment—What the fuck? (que porra?)
Sex—”Hey baby, you wanna fuck?” (quer transar)
Stupidity—”What a dumb fuck” (que cara burro)
Misfortune—”That’s fucked up.”
Caring—”I don’t give a fuck about your problems.” (estou nem aí)
Agitation—”Hey stop fucking with me, it’s annoying.”
Dismissal—”Fuck off.” (vai se fuder)

For a more complete understanding of using the word fuck, check out these articles:

CONCLUSION

 

Swear words can be fun, and funny, when used in the right context. Just be sensitive to the people around you when you say these words. And remember to practice with your friends to find out exactly how to use the different words. Okay mother fucker??

For more information about swearing, watch this episode about swearing from the animated TV series South Park online for free!

OTHER RECOMMENDED ARTICLES: 

Return from How to Use Swear Words in English to Swear Words

33 Comments

  1. Justin Murray on July 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Great insight! I know how it feels to make mistakes with bad words. This is a great help for those learning how to master a very delicate area of the language.

  2. Fábio Bossard on August 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I didn't know that you had a correspondent to 'empata foda' in English. Interesting. You should add: For more info about swear words in English, watch South Park!

  3. Tina Guide on August 8, 2012 at 3:37 am

    Realtime practical example of one way to use the f word from a promo photo for Dave Grohl's Sound City Movie: https://www.facebook.com/photo.phpfbid=447229561983552&set=a.340904569282719.80678.298282330211610&type=1&theater.

  4. Ganesh Chinthala on December 14, 2012 at 6:35 am

    funny words which I never heard before.

  5. Manohar Yadav on January 15, 2013 at 9:46 am

  6. Jordan Dix on January 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    OMG that was totally rad!! Great day, please write more im crying

  7. Thao Nguyen on January 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    lol

  8. Sandy Narwal on May 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Awesone work…u r a fucking human..

  9. diana on August 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    very interesting voca

  10. Tom L. on August 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    You have some good information for people learning English. I am a native American English speaker and like this site. I will emphasize one point that I think is important about the word “fuck.” It can be a transitive way of stating that two people have a sexual relationship. I don’t think there are any other words I can remember that do the same work. The more “delicate” choices of words are all intransitive and lack the direct action implied by the word “fuck.”

    For example: Indirect ways of saying a sexual relationship exists between two people.
    1. They are in a relationship. This is entirely too shy and evasive-sounding. It lacks clarity.
    2. Paul and Annie are bush-pushing. This is a little cute, referring to pubic hair as “bush.”
    3. Paul and Annie have a fuck date several times a week. This is direct and to the point.
    4. They are friends with benefits. (Another indirect statement of the reality.)
    5. It is good to be Annie’s friend, because she is always ready to give you a fuck if she likes you.

    In most parts of American culture, sex is not regarded as so shameful as it is in more conservative places. There are even some groups that gather to have sex parties, but this is not a mainstream practice, though, and would normally be kept somewhat secret.

  11. Emenji Berltin on March 3, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    D

  12. John Smith on May 8, 2014 at 10:34 am

    The title says “English”, but the swear words in the article seem to be some strange foreign language. “Hell” or “Damn” might be popular swear words in the States, but across the pond in Good Old Blighty we use PROPER ENGLISH swear words like: “Bloody”, “Bastard”, “Git”, “Ponce”, “Wanker”, “Arse”, “Tosser”, “Berk”, “Plonker”, “Nonce”, and “Bollocks”.

    • Justin on June 14, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Hey John, Thanks for the heads up. I guess that being American makes us qualified to write primarily about the American side, but if you’d like to contribute with an article on British swear words, we’d be more than happy to publish it!

  13. ngm on August 19, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Thank you guys for all these USEFUL vocab! It would be awesome if you could upload a printable version in .pdf as well. I love these posts! 🙂

  14. HARRY STYLES on August 19, 2014 at 9:16 am

    FUCK is my favourite word out of all words in English!!

  15. Alex on October 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Is it true that fucks means Fornicate Under the Concern of the King? …..
    and btw i happen to enjoy you website 😀

  16. Emily Carter on May 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    1 word
    FUUUUUCCCCKKK

  17. Emily Carter on May 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    1 word
    FUUUUUCCCCKKK

  18. Lilly Wayne on May 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Hell.. My english teacher was totally pissed when I told him “Fuck” was my favorite word.. But damn.. This word is the shit. So bitches, stop being pussys and move your ass, there are fucked up words to learn 😉

  19. Lilly Wayne on May 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Hell.. My english teacher was totally pissed when I told him “Fuck” was my favorite word.. But damn.. This word is the shit. So bitches, stop being pussys and move your ass, there are fucked up words to learn 😉

  20. boober-fucker on July 30, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    youre all pissed off

  21. boober-fucker on July 30, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    youre all pissed off

  22. Jason on August 21, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Some of the ‘substitutes’ actually sound less than PG. PG means Parental Guidance. Heck and darn are G, hell, damn, and the other ‘substitutes’ are PG. The stronger words (ass, bitch) are PG-13, and shit/f&&* are R.

  23. Carmen on October 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    you forgot
    “my girlfriend’s bitchin cause I always sleep in”

  24. Carmen on October 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    you forgot
    “my girlfriend’s bitchin cause I always sleep in”

  25. ????????? ?????????? ???????? on November 18, 2015 at 10:52 am

    What a cock block!!!

  26. What a cock block!!!

  27. John Zelcs on June 23, 2016 at 7:50 am

    You forgot “crap.” PG version — crud.

  28. John Zelcs on June 23, 2016 at 7:50 am

    You forgot both crap and bastard. The PG versions are crud and dastard, respectively.

    • Real Life English on July 15, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Thanks John! Good points.

  29. John Zelcs on June 23, 2016 at 7:50 am

    You forgot both crap and bastard. The PG versions are crud and dastard, respectively.

    • RealLife on July 15, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Thanks John! Good points.

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