Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

Nauseous/nauseated – Good grammar, it’s hot! May 9, 2011

I think good grammar is important and attractive! As a VA, it is part of my job to notice grammar, spelling and the proper use of words. Common mistakes can do serious damage to an otherwise stellar reputation. Think about the image you project and proofread, do some research, look it up…or ask me!


Nauseous and nauseated have two different definitions, but recently they have become almost interchangeable. To many people, the following two sentences have exactly the same meaning:

Example 1: I feel nauseated when I am nervous.

Example 2: I feel nauseous when I am nervous.

In both sentences, the speaker is referring to a feeling of queasiness. It is becoming increasingly common to hear the second example above, which uses nauseous in place of nauseated. Actually, these words have two separate meanings. Nauseous is used when referring to something that actually causes a feeling of sickness, while nauseated is used to refer to the actual sensation of sickness, as illustrated in the following sentences:

Example 3 (nauseous-correct usage): The smell of rotten eggs is nauseous.

Example 4 (nauseated-correct usage): The smell of rotten eggs makes me nauseated.

Example 3 illustrates the correct usage of the word nauseous, because it refers to the smell of rotten eggs–something which causes a feeling of sickness. In Example 4, nauseated is used to refer to the feeling of nausea. Just remember that when you are feeling sick, use nauseated, but when you are referring to something that actually causes you to be sick, use nauseous.

Please note that the word nauseating is synonymous with nauseous in that both refer to something that causes nausea. To say, “The smell of rotten eggs is nauseating” would be as correct as saying, “The smell of rotten eggs is nauseous.” The real confusion, however, lies in the difference between nauseous and nauseated.


Personally, I like the word “yucky”. Just kidding.


One Response to “Nauseous/nauseated – Good grammar, it’s hot!”

  1. I read a self-published e-book lately where the character was nauseous and I was nauseated by the lack of proper grammar, when I checked a dictionary and found that nauseous can now be used instead of nauseated. Not because it means the smae thing, but because so many people fail to distinguish between them that THEY [whoever they might be] concluded in their wisdom that general stupidity may be a good reason to change the meaning of words.

    I’m still nauseated about this nauseous abuse of etymology.

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