In English, we often say “catch a cold.” For other illnesses we often use the phrase “come down with.”

I caught a cold from my sister.

If you catch a cold, you should drink lots of liquids and get lots of rest.

He came down with the flu.

I haven’t been feeling well lately, I think I’m coming down with something.

When we don’t know the reason for the sickness, it is very common to say, “I’m coming down with something.

If you catch a cold or come down with any minor sickness in Korea, many Koreans will ask you if you have gone to the hospital! This sounds very strange to Americans. First, for colds and other minor sicknesses, many Americans do not see a doctor. They will take some medicine and stay home. Second, in America, it’s very common for a doctor to work in an office apart from the hospital. So, it’s much more common to say:

Have you been to the doctor? (CORRECT)

Have you been to the hospital? (WRONG!)

You should go to the doctor. (CORRECT)

You should go to the hospital. (WRONG!)

The only time we go directly to the hospital is for an emergency. Any other time, we go to the doctor first. If we need a test that the doctor cannot perform in his office or if we need to have surgery or another serious treatment, then we will go to the hospital.

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