Make Sense Of English Phrases That Use The Word Sense Ep 489

A lady smelling coffee enjoying her sense of smell. An English language learning podcast on English phrases that use the word sense which will teach you the meaning of sense and how it’s used in key phrases.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2574 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 13 min

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Learn the most common English phrases that use the word “sense.”

In today’s English language podcast lesson, we explain and practice using some common English phrases and expressions that use the word sense. Why do we say I don’t have a sense of humour, but I get the sense you don’t like me? Does sense really mean 5 different things? What is nonsense? Find out in this English phrases lesson. Using our easy to use listen and learn approach to improving your English comprehension skills, we will have you speaking English like a native in no time.

Today we are answering an email request from the Netherlands to help explain the meaning and use of the word sense. If you are trying to learn English, learn it fast with today’s English podcast lesson. We will take a thorough analysis of the meaning of sense and all the most common phrases that use it. With lots of examples, you will make sense of the word in no time.

Not getting the context of common English phrases is frustrating. You can spend hours reading boring dusty books that don’t seem to make any sense. Adeptenglish lessons, with free audio and transcripts, are a smarter way of improving your English skills. With over 500,000 people listening to us every month, our listeners think our English lessons are an effective way to improve your English vocabulary and fluency.

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Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

To Make Sense4
Your Ability To4
Sense Of Smell3
Sense Of Humour3
As A Noun3
Used As A2
One Of These2
Sense Of Balance2
Our Five Senses2
Sense Of Danger2
Make Sense Of2

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Transcript: Make Sense Of English Phrases That Use The Word Sense

Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. We are here to help people who want to become fluent in spoken English, in English conversation, so listen twice a week to the Adept English podcast to improve your English. Today we’re going to take an English word and we’re going to ‘make sense’ of it because it has a few different meanings, as many English words do.

Let’s understand ‘to make sense’

So we’ve had a request from someone in the Netherlands called Renske to explain the meaning of the phrase ‘to make sense’ - so thankyou Renske for this request. I thought about this and decided that perhaps a podcast on the meaning of the word ‘sense’ itself, that’s SENSE - I thought that might be a good idea.

It’s useful English language listening for you, but sometimes also focusing on one of these words or phrases is helpful. There are lots of words in English, but what we do is have a lot of words which are used in different ways. And ‘sense’ is one of these.

Let’s cover the meanings and then ‘make sense’ of the phrase ‘to make sense’. Hopefully that gives some kind of clue as to what it means?! So the word ‘sense’, again SENSE in English - it can be used as a verb or as a noun. It isn’t uncommon for English words to double as a nouns and verbs.

Our ‘five senses’

So if we take ‘sense’ as a noun, very often it means your ‘ability to perceive’. Longer words than the one I’m explaining - but basically we might talk in English about you having ‘five senses’. That means ‘your vision - that’s your ability to see, your hearing - that’s your ability to hear, your sense of smell, that’s your ability to detect the different aroma of things. And your sense of touch - what your fingertips can feel, and your sense of taste.

Can you tell the difference between onions and chocolate?’ So that is the five senses - and to use the verb, we ‘sense’ the world though our five senses. So we might say that ‘dogs have a good sense of smell’ - which would be a bit of an understatement as they can smell at least 10,000 times better than we can!

Sense of humour, sense of danger, sense of balance - ‘Spidey sense

What you also might come across, when ‘sense’ is used as a noun - people sometimes use it in different contexts, with the same broad meaning though. So you might talk about your ‘sense of smell’, but you might also talk about your ‘sense of danger’ - that’s your capacity to perceive threat, danger.


A photograph of a smiling man. This English podcast lesson on common English phrases using sense will help you sound more like a native speaker.

©️ Adept English 2021

Or you could talk about your ‘sense of humour’ - that you tend to be alert to the funny side of things. You laugh a lot, you find things funny - that’s your ‘sense of humour’. Or you might talk about your sense of balance - whether or not your balance is good. Do you fall over a lot? At the moment, I’m trying an experiment while brushing my teeth in the morning.

My toothbrush is timed to 4 lots of 30 seconds - so I time how long I can balance on one leg with my eyes closed as I brush my teeth! It’s really difficult - try it, if you haven’t already! You may think this sounds a little mad, but there is evidence that it’s good for your brain! Maybe I’ll tell you more about that in another podcast. But that’s me, ‘improving my sense of balance’ in the mornings.

Sense as a general perception

So taking that noun ‘sense’ and using it as a verb ‘to sense’ - we tend to use ‘sense’ to mean ‘a more general perception’. If you entered a room and everyone stopped talking and turned to look at you, you might say afterwards ‘I sensed that they were all talking about me!. Nobody told me this was so - it was just an impression I got. I sensed it’. Or you may say of a couple that you know ‘I sensed...’ or ‘I got the sense that all was not well in their relationship’.

Again nobody said this to you, you’re just using your overall ability to perceive - that’s PERCEIVE - to sense things. And it’s not conclusive - you might be wrong. It’s just an impression - that’s another way of saying this. So this is often said as ‘I have the sense that….’ or ‘I got the sense that….’ as well as ‘I sensed that…’ or ‘I am sensing that….’. So obviously this can be used in the past or the present tense.


Machines that can ‘sense’

And it’s not only human beings and animals now that ‘sense’. If you drive up to the barrier in a carpark, then the camera and machine controlling the barrier will ‘sense’ that you are there. There will be a ‘sensor’, that’s SENSOR.

A sensor of some type - that will ‘sense’ you’ve arrived and you’re wanting to leave the carpark. Then there’ll probably be some process of Automatic Number Plate Recognition - and the machine will check you’ve paid for your parking - and if you have, the barrier will lift. All done through automatic sensors.

Our Course One Activate Your Listening is a good course!

So all of that use of the noun ‘sense’ and the verb ‘to sense’ has one meaning. I’ll talk in a minute about another way in which we use this word ‘sense’. But just a quick reminder Course One Activate your Listening though, which is available to buy on our website at

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

If you want to carry on your learning and you’re ready for some English conversation, then look no further than this course. Course One Activate Your Listening gives you great vocabulary, lots of listening material and some pronunciation practice as well. And you hear other voices, not just mine.

Words with ‘many senses’

Back to today’s topic. If you talk about ‘the sense of a word’ - you’re talking there about what that word means - what the word ‘wants to say’, if you like. So many words in English have more than one sense, more than one meaning. Take a word like ‘fair’, FAIR.

It can used as a noun - you might visit a ‘fair’ - an event, perhaps in a street, with stalls, where you can buy things. Or its sense as an adjective can either be that something is ‘just’, something has the same rules for everyone - that’s fair. Or ‘fair’ can be used to mean blonde, blonde-haired or pale skinned. So there are several ‘senses’ of the word ‘fair’. So that’s ‘sense’ used similarly to the word ‘meaning’.

‘Sense’ to mean ‘wisdom’ or ‘intelligence’

Another meaning - used a great deal - of the word ‘sense’? And this is the one in the phrase ‘to make sense’. ‘Sense’ here is again a noun, and if you ‘have sense’, that means you’ve got ‘sound mental capacity’, you’re sensible, you’re ‘of sound mind’, you can make shrewd judgements. ‘I had the sense to realise that the man was inviting me to lunch because he wanted to sell something to me’.

So it’s got a relationship with the other meanings that I’ve described, but ‘sense’ here is used interchangeably with ‘intelligence’. ‘I had the sense to realise that my days working for this company were limited’. ‘I had the sense to know that there was a lot of work to do, to pass this exam’. So ‘sense’ meaning ‘intelligence’.

People can ‘make sense of something’ - and things/actions can ‘make sense’ - or not!

And this leads us on to the phrase ‘to make sense’. So a person can ‘make sense of’ something. ‘She shut herself in a room and used the afternoon to make sense of the legal documents’. So this meaning, ‘to make sense of’ - the person here is spending effort, energy, all afternoon, understanding some legal documents. So that the meaning being here is that by the end of the afternoon, she understood the legal documents. She’d ‘made sense of them’.

And this ‘to make sense’ verb can also be used of situations, or rules, decisions or actions people take. ‘It makes sense to put lots of investment into the design of new types of car battery’. Or ‘The UK government’s investment in the HS2 railway doesn’t make any sense!’ (That’s a bit of my opinion!)

Common Sense - not so common!

Two other types of sense - you’ll hear ‘common sense’ - and this means ‘ordinary wisdom’ or ‘the wisdom of ordinary people’. For example. I might say to my thirteen year old son, ‘It’s common sense. When you’ve used your towel after your shower, hang it up then it’s dry when you come to use it again’.

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Or someone might say ‘It’s common sense to park straight in the parking space, rather than parking crooked so no one can use the parking space next to you’. But as one of my old teachers used to say in school ‘Common sense is not so common’ - meaning that sometimes people don’t seem to employ common sense! Common sense is just the kind of thing that 13 year olds are learning, but which many adults seem to lack too!

Nonsense - quite common!

And the other way in which sense is used - we say ‘nonsense’, NONSENSE. If something is ‘nonsense’, it means ‘it makes no sense’ no sense at all. It may literally be gobbledegook - that’s a good word for you! Just random nonsensical words that have no meaning - or sometimes people say ‘It’s nonsense’ when they don’t agree with something.

‘The government’s policy on travel testing for unvaccinated 12 to 15 year olds - it’s nonsense. It makes no sense’. Bit more of my opinion creeping in there! But basically, if we say something is ‘nonsense’, it means that it makes no sense at all!

I hope that’s helped you to understand this word ‘sense’ a bit more. To an English speaker these are all very common uses, things they’d just automatically know. But for English language learners, it can be more confusing, when one word is used to have so many different meanings. But I hope I’ve helped you make sense of the word ‘sense’.


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.



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