Angry Couple. Image By Jet

Angry Couple. Image By Jet


A feeling is an emotional state. Emotions are sensations derived from one’s circumstances, mood or relationship with others. Usually feelings are accompanied by a set of physiological changes such as a change in heartbeat or breathing rate. These changes can even be more obvious such as shaking or crying.

Whenever two/more people are communicating with one another various feelings/emotions are stirred by the conversation. This is inevitable. For example one of the two people involved in a conversation starts out angry because of some perceived wrong done to him/her by the other person. The first person speaks angrily to the second part and the later’s feelings are evoked as well and they are bound to respond with feelings of their own. The result is an ever-changing and perpetual cycle of emotions for the duration of the conversation and often emotions persist well after the conversation is done.

It is important to note that these emotions may well evolve as the exchange continues. For example Julia is angry because she thinks it was Jane (her younger sister who used her make up), Julia angrily confronts her sibling about how she is always touching her “stuff”, because Jane is innocent she feels annoyed and informs Julia it was their mother who used Jane’s make up, Julia upon learning this feels mollified and perhaps a little embarrassed for always thinking the worst of her sister causing her to apologise and upon hearing the apology, Jane might feel satisfied. You will do well to note that there are innumerable ways in which the conversation could have gone. For example Julia might have chosen not to trust/believe Julia’s explanation taking it for a cheap lie which might have incensed her and caused her to lash out and throw expletives at Jane who would no doubt be enraged and so on.

Common feelings include excitement,hurt, shock, anger, jealous, sorrow, joy and so on. As we have already demonstrated above the person spoken to may or may not adopt the same emotion depending with circumstances. It is always important to understand that in register there are no fixed answers. The key is to provide an answer that is plausible within the given circumstances. To divine the likely feelings of one part of the conversation in a given circumstance.

Feelings are an emotional experience. When emotions are aroused certain sensations are triggered in the body. Emotions are involved in the production of sensations of excitement, anger, affection, pain, joy, sentimentality and sympathy. They are involved in the production of sensations of tenderness, passion, sorrow and so on. You can ask someone, “How did she feel on her wedding day?” The respondent could say, “She was overjoyed. She was ecstatic”. Or you can ask someone, “What feelings are evoked by this song?” The respondent can say, “It evokes feelings of nostalgia. Or it evokes feelings of sorrow”. Or if it is a story you can say “The reader or listener is left with feelings of pain, anger and dejection”.

It is worth repeating the fact that feelings/emotions in a speaker’s voice have an obvious effect on the other speaker in the same dialogue. The way he reacts and the way he responds all are a result of the tone set by the first speaker’s utterance. What it means is that the speaker’s voice with its feelings/emotions carries the tone of the conversation, thereby creating the mood of the situation.

Practicing identifying likely emotions

As already said the examiners are only looking for you to provide them with the likeliest emotion in a given scenario and depending with the case involved there are usually a set of possible answers in each given case. One way to practice recognizing emotions is to look at the list of typical emotions listed at the end of these notes find the precise meaning of each emotion and try to create situations where the feelings can be evoked e.g. When caught red-handed stealing, a thief experiences feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment. You can start with the words below to get you going. A more complete list will be linked to this topic once it is available.

A list of some of the most common feelings

loving           hate                         angry                        jealous          sad        afraid   sorry        relaxed  jubilant

thankful       elated                     surprised                  content         encouraged   reassured    optimistic    sensitive

curious        anxious                    confident                 shy                 ashamed         embarrassed  lonely     skeptical

As already said a more complete list will be provided at the end of the register notes, just keep checking the English Notes topic home to see when the chapter is available.

Practice creating scenarios where the feelings are likely to be generated so that you can become more adept in examinations when it comes to diagnosing what feelings are likely to be generated. For example George and his fiance Rudo decide to visit the New Start Centre to get tested before they get married. They are likely to feel anxious as they sit waiting for their results outside the testing centre.

Answering the feelings/emotion questions in the exam.

It is always useful to follow the steps below when answering register questions involving feelings/emotions in the examination:

  1. Read and understand the situation especially the background part as it gives you an idea of the circumstances/mood/relationship between the players involved. For example if two people are friends insults can be seen as friendly banter which can be even desirable while they would be deemed offensive if used on a stranger.
  2. Immerse yourself in the scenario, visualize the situation in your mind and play it out like a drama of sorts. Put yourself in their shoes.
  3. Carefully read and understand the question/requirement of the question. Whose feelings are being asked for in the question? It will do you no good to correctly answer a question that you were not asked. This is especially important because as we have already seen the questions usually involve more than one person.
  4. Put yourself into the position of the person for whose emotion you are being asked for and try to put a name to those emotions that are stirred within yourself when you do this.
  5. Write you answer down. Remember it is always preferable to provide your answers as a full sentences rather than one word answers. Not only will your answer be able to understand but it is even possible to concatenate several feelings covering a spectrum of emotions.


a) You have won $100 worth of books in a raffle organised to raise funds for the library. A classmate says:

i) “Congratulations! How wonderful.”

ii) ” Trust you! I never seem to have such luck.”

What does each comment reveal about the speaker’s feelings towards your success.


i)  The classmate is genuinely happy/pleased/elated for me. (0 marks for interested and excited)

ii) The classmate is resentful/jealous/envious of my success. (0 marks for bored,sad and depressed)

b) In mathematics a girl comes top of a class of both girls and boys. The teacher says:

i) “That was excellent,Sophie. Congratulations!”

ii) “Hey boys, how does it feel getting beaten by a girl?”

In each case say how the girl would feel. Number your answers separately i) and ii).


i) The girl would feel pleased/very happy/delighted/proud herself and her performance or She will feel on top of the world.  ( 0 marks for happy, pompous and boastful)

ii) The girl will feel hurt/offended/belittled/little/looked down upon/put down/upset/insulted/annoyed. (0 marks for oppressed, suppressed,depressed,disappointed and discouraged)

Things to note

When it comes to answering register questions it is important to understand the exact English meaning of various feelings. The most common stumbling block for students when it comes to register is Direct Translation where a word from the vernacular ( Shona for me I do not know whether this is also a problem with native Ndebele speakers or other local languages since I do not speak them but I would suppose this is the case also) into the wrong English equivalent usually because there are several English words with different shades of meaning. A fact that is not helped by the fact that a lot of English words have been incorporated into the Shona language itself with some words evolving in meanings that are different from their original English words.

An example is the phrase “to be bored” a feeling someone is going to experience when they have little to do or they have nothing interesting to occupy them. The Shona equivalent “kubhoikana” does not mean the same thing at all. It can usually be roughly translated as “to be hurt” even though the phrase originally came from the English phrase “to be bored”. Direct translation is when a student confuses between the two. Another example involving different shades of meaning in Shona and English is “kunyara”. The Shona word is very broad in meaning and can cover feelings like shame, embarrassed and shyness all of which are known differently in English.

NB Find out the meanings of most common feelings so that you can distinguish between them. Also only use the names of feelings that you know the exact meaning of when answering questions.