Staying up late
Do you enjoy staying up late? Do you often stay up late? Did you stay up late when you were a kid? What do you do when you stay up late? How do you feel after you stay up late?
  • Well-rested (adj.) - having had sufficient (or even more than enough) sleep or rest to function optimally during waking hours.
  • Night owl (noun) - a person who prefers to be awake and active at night.
  • To function (verb) - to work or operate.
  • To pull an all-nighter (phrasal verb) - remain awake all night long.
  • Promptly (adverb) - quickly, without delay, or at the arranged time.
  • To keel over (phrasal verb) - fall over suddenly.
  • Exhausted (adj.) - extremely tired.
  • Drained (adj.) - very tired.
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Questions and answers
M: Do you enjoy staying up late?

R: I think only if I'm out with my friends. And, well, like I say, if we're out having fun. Otherwise, I'd definitely rather be in my bed and wake up well-rested for the next day.

M: Do you often stay up late?

R: Oh, far less than I used to. I think it's like only once every other week now. I'm much less of a night owl than I used to be. I like to get my full 8 hours so I can wake up and function effectively the next day.

M: Did you stay up late when you were a kid?

R: Oh, absolutely. Who has time for bed when there's the whole world to get out and... Well, to get out and explore. I think we used to pull all-nighters all the time. And then promptly keel over the next day from exhaustion.

M: What do you do when you stay up late?

R: Well, assuming it's with my friends, it's something like drinking and partying long into the night. I think the best example of that was Eurovision last year. When we were up until five in the morning. Other than that, on the odd occasion, I work late if something comes in at the last minute, but that's not very often.

M: How do you feel after your stay up late?

R: Tired? I'm not sure how else I'm supposed to answer that, to be honest with you. Exhausted, drained, unfocused. Whichever one it is, it's not the best feeling in the world, so I try and avoid feeling so whenever I can.
M: So stay up late. Right, dear listener? So when you stay up late, you go to bed at what? 4 am, 3 am, 1 am at night, 5 am in the morning. So you stay up late or you go to bed at 7 am in the morning, yeah? And when I asked Rory if he enjoyed staying up late. So enjoy staying up late, Rory said that, well, only if I'm with friends, we're out having fun. So I enjoy staying up late if I'm out doing something, right? So I enjoy staying up late. If I'm out having fun with my friends, if I'm out having dinner with my family, if I'm out doing something, yeah? And then you used a nice structure. I'd definitely rather be in bed.

R: Yes.

M: So I'd, I would or I had?

R: I would, here. And there's a reason for that because I can't say I will definitely rather be in bed. Because will is to talk about when you're sure about something, like 100%. But we have definitely and that already means 100% sure. And we're also talking about what you would prefer. So I would, definitely.

M: Yes. So you can say I'd definitely rather be in bed or I'd rather go home. I'd rather go to bed early. So I would prefer it, right? A nice structure. I'd rather be in bed to wake up like a normal person or to wake up well-rested.

R: Can we talk about only if?

M: Yes. Only if.

R: Is that good?

M: Yes, it's good.

R: Because there's if. But I don't know if that makes it worthwhile or not to talk about.

M: Well, yeah, that's a good structure. Like, I enjoy staying up late, only if I'm with friends or only if I have some quality time with my friends. If you don't stay up late, you wake up well-rested.

R: It's a nice adjective.

M: It is. Here, Rory, you used this far less than I used to. Hmm. Far less.

R: Yeah. It just means a lot less. And really, it's... The whole thing should be, like, far less so. So a lot less. And so is used here to substitute, like far less often than I used to. So instead of repeating the question we use so. And actually, that's a really important thing to be able to do, because so often people just repeat the question that they hear and that's not very good for getting a high score. So using this expression, so to replace that part of the question is quite useful. Did I do it any other time?

M: Yes, you did in the last question.

R: So I said I try to avoid feeling so whenever I can. Feeling so I try to avoid feeling tired, feeling exhausted, feeling drained. It's just a way to stop yourself from repeating what you've already said.

M: Substitution.

R: Substitution.
M: Yes. It helps to make your answers coherent and avoid repetition. So good for you. Also for writing and for speaking. Far less. You can also say much less. So I used to stay up late a lot at school or at university, but now much less. I do it much less, much less often. Or you can say far less often in the same fashion that it's far more expensive to go to Africa than to go to Scotland. Far more expensive, much more expensive, yeah? And how often is a typical question. So here Rory told us that it's only once every other week.

R: It really is just a very good way of being vague or inexact with your time. So every other week is like there's this week and then there's the other week. So maybe once every two weeks. The same idea every other day, maybe once every two days, for example. Although I don't stay up late every other day, I only stay up late every other week. But when that is, I don't know, so I'm being vague.

M: Yes, dear listener. So don't say like I don't often stay up late. I often, often, often. Just say something like once every other week. Or if you almost never do it, you can say I hardly ever do it. Or I rarely stay up late, yeah? Or once a month, once a year. And then Rory said I'm not much of a night owl. Night owl, yeah, Harry Potter owl. This owl, the bird. A night owl is a person who enjoys staying up late. They are active at night and they are super passive in the morning, like myself. Rory gets up at an ungodly hour at freaking 6 am.

R: I don't anymore. I used to get up at 5:30 in the morning.

M: Oh, come on. What is it, seven?

R: No, yeah. Now I wake up at 7:10, roughly. That's much more reasonable. And the other thing I should mention is I said the word night owl because I knew that we were going to record this again. And I was just thinking, I've run out of advanced language that we've already used because we've talked about staying up late before, haven't we?

M: Yes, I think a year ago you can check out the archive and listen to our episode about staying up late. IELTS people kind of recycle different topics, so now staying up late topic is used again. But do check out another episode that we have on staying up late with some useful vocabulary too.

R: This is the first time we're videoing it, though. And also it's important to draw attention to the fact that when I said night owl, I didn't say I'm not much of a night owl. Not stressing this idiomatic expression, that's important.

M: I'm not much of a night owl or I'm not a night owl or I'm an early bird. If you enjoy getting up early, you can say I never stay up late because I'm an early bird, so I'm super active in the morning.

R: Is early bird also an idiom?

M: Well, yeah, like, I don't mean I'm literally a bird. I'm not an early bird. Well, I'm a person, so yeah, it's idiomatic.

R: We should do a course on idioms. Just a thought.

M: Hmm. We are doing a course on idioms.
R: Spoiler alert. That was not subtle at all. But we are. Yes. Stay tuned.

M: Here, Rory asks a question, so it's fine to ask rhetorical questions to answer the examiner's question. So who has time for bed when there is the whole world to get out and explore. So there is a whole world to get out. To get out there and explore. Explore the world. Who has time for bed? Yeah? Why would you want to kind of to go to sleep? Yeah, so who has time for bed?

R: It works for anything, though. Could you ask me another question? Maybe not about staying up late, but the same kind of question.

M: Hmm. Okay. Did you enjoy stars when you were a kid?

R: Of course, who has time for the sun? When all the stars are out there. That's like the sun times a million. There you go. You can do it for anything. Even random questions like that.

M: Did you do much sport when you were a kid?

R: No. Who has time for sport when you could be lazy and read books? That's my honest answer to like how I viewed sport when I was a child.

M: And then, dear listener, Rory used a very nice synonym to stay up late. Because like stay up late, stay up late, stay up late. What synonym did you use? An idiomatic one.

R: Did I? What was it?

M: Pool an all-nighter.

R: Oh, yeah.

M: So to pull an all-nighter means to stay up late. This is idiomatic. This is cool. So make sure you use this synonym and we can say that at university I used to pull all-nighters. So to pull an all-nighter is like once you stayed up late, okay? So you went to bed at 4 a.m. in the morning. So I pulled an all-nighter yesterday, at university, I was preparing for my exams and I used to pull all-nighters. Rory, what else can I say? So I stayed up late, I pulled an all-nighter. What else? Any other synonyms?

R: Oh, I pulled an all-nighter. I, oh, my God, I burned the midnight oil.

M: No, no, come on... It's old fashioned and no, no.

R: Yes, you can. Yes, you can. It doesn't matter. I burned the midnight oil. I like to burn the midnight oil. Like it's got to be natural, though. I didn't stress it unnecessarily.

M: No, f... We can't use it. Sorry.

R: Hey, that's you saying all those things. I haven't said any of them. Everything I've just said has been totally clean, so we can include it. Oh, yeah. Nice.

M: Keel over. What did you mean when you said keel over at school the next day?

R: Yes. It's another idiomatic expression. Keel over is just like when you go, you're standing there and then if you keel over you go on the ground. So it's like you fall down usually unconscious, because of exhaustion or you're badly injured, for example.
M: Hmm. So you pull an all-nighter, you don't sleep all night, and then you go to school and you just kind of collapse. Keel over. Game over.

R: Yeah. You keel over. Although, it sounds like a very serious thing. But when you usually when you talk about someone keeling over, it's in a joking way talking about when you would like, just be so tired you couldn't do anything. You don't literally fall unconscious because if you did outside of sleep, you would be suffering from brain damage and that probably wouldn't be good. Well, in fact, it definitely wouldn't be good.

M: So keel. Keel, not kill like, kill.

R: Not kill.

M: Keel, right? So keel, keel over. Yeah. So keel over, fall over suddenly, according to Cambridge Online Dictionary. And for example, he finished the bottle, stood up to leave and keeled over. So he... Collapsed. Another example, Rory? So maybe I stayed up late and then maybe at work, for example.

R: Yeah. Or I was fine and then I caught the flu and I keeled over at work. Too much stress.

M: You said that it's usually drinking and partying long into the night. So when we stay up late with our friends, we usually go partying long into the night. Nice prepositions. So you party hard all day, all night. Starting from Thursday and finish on Monday morning, yes.

R: Very rarely, I would like to point out. Normally, I'm very boring. I don't burn the midnight oil very often.

M: Please, Rory, come on. You kind of, what? You sound like a grandma. Seriously, how old are you? 99?

R: I'm 99% certain that burning the midnight oil is like a great idiom. You see, look, burning the midnight oil. No one's going to forget it now.

M: I think that he took some pills before recording and they kicked in.

R: Are you? You're basing this solely on my use of the word burning the midnight oil. I am... No.

M: Rory, your friends never said that to you. And I'm sure even your grandma never said this to you. Where did you take it from? From me? Because you heard me making fun of burn the midnight oil. And now you're taking the piss. Yes. I'm saying this. You're taking the piss.

R: I'm having fun. Why can't I have fun?

M: My God. You've used another synonym. We were up until five. So we stayed up.

R: Yeah.
M: We went to party hard and we were up till 5 a.m.

R: Yeah.

M: Rory, boy. Naughty, naughty.

R: Like, well, no, we were up until five in the morning. I think five in the morning is more informal than 5 a.m. Five in the morning.

M: Usually Rory doesn't do it because he's dull and boring, but on the odd occasion, dear listener, on the odd occasions. So that's a nice synonym if you don't want to say like I rarely or hardly ever or like once... What, once a year, on the very odd occasion. So like special occasion.

R: Yes. It's not often. Odd occasion. Like an odd number.

M: A nice question about feelings. So you stay up late and how do you feel? And Rory said exhausted, drained. What does it mean? Like if you are drained? Drained.

R: I love that question, though, because most people would answer tired. And then you think, oh, wait, it's an IELTS exam, I have to use higher level language. So probably this answer is the best one you could give. Tired? How else do I do that? Here are some synonyms for being tired. It's like the only time that you can say that to the examiner and get away with it, probably.

M: Exhausted, drained, unfocused, yeah? And also, Rory used a nice strategy. So how do you feel after you stay up late? And he said what else I'm supposed to say, to be honest with you? Like tired, I feel tired. What else am I supposed to say, to be honest with you? And this was said with a nice intonation. Rory, could you demonstrate your nice intonation?

R: What else am I supposed to say, to be honest with you?

M: Yeah. Or if the question is, for example, do you usually give flowers as a gift?

R: No. What else am I supposed to say, to be honest with you? What? Explain why? Because they're dying. I don't like to give people dying things.

M: Rory is on the fire, dear listener, today. Yeah.

R: Do you know what else is on fire? The midnight oil when you burn it.

M: Jesus.

R: Oh, come on. Let's bring back burn the midnight oil. Come on, Maria. Language is alive. Let's do it.

M: Thank you very much for listening. Hopefully, we've just given you some nice synonyms, some nice phrases, idiomatic language and phrasal verbs. Do check out our phrasal verbs course. The link is in the description.

R: And if you want to learn more about how to use substitution for your speaking test, you can now sign up for classes with me. The link is also in the description below. Bye!

M: Bye!

Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
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