In my other post (Is it idiomatic to say "He doesn't drink much water at school"?) I quoted an expression.

He doesn't drink much water at school.

And asked whether the expression sounds natural.

And then I realized that I've used sound(s) natural a lot.

I searched a bit on ELL "sound natural" got 857 hits, "is natural" got 279 hits. Which seems to indicate that the former is more commonly used than the latter.

Are both expressions idiomatic?

  • Sounds natural is fine. Is natural is, of course, idiomatic too, but it also depends on the context whether it sounds natural to say is natural. Mar 11, 2020 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


English can use a word in many different ways. "Sound natural" is a colloquial expression meaning that it is used in colloquial English (sorry about the self-referential usage). "Is natural," by itself, might apply to orange juice (no artificial ingredients) or to unaffected behavior.

If you want another way to say "sounds natural", "is normally said" and "is commonly used" are alternatives.

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