Monday, January 3, 2011

Expressing sympathy - O God, HOw sad, using it in conversation - formal and informal



The Newsreader on TV: Ninety children studying in classes
I to V were burnt to death in a fire accident in a school in

Viewer: O God! How sad!


1. Formal

Student : May I know why you look sad, Sir?
Teacher : I’m really upset; you know, my uncle passed away
day before yesterday.
Student : I’m very sorry to hear that, Sir.
Teacher : In fact, it was he who brought me up. He was my
godfather too.
Student : How sad, Sir!
Teacher : We’ll miss him a lot.
Student : Time is the best healer, Sir.
Teacher : Thank you for the comforting words.
Student : It was the least I could do.

2. Neutral

A: Why do you look upset?
B: You know, I have lost my wallet somewhere this
A: Oh, I’m very sorry to hear that. How much money did
you have in it?
B: I had Rs.500 /- in it.
A: Which places did you visit from the morning?
B: I went to the restaurant for breakfast and then ……..
A: Why don’t you speak to the person in the cash counter?
B: Yes, let me try.
A: I hope you will get it back.


Some of the expressions we use for sympathising with people
who are in distress in various situations are given below.

I am most upset to hear that.
What a terrible situation for you!
One should not worry too much
I do sympathise with you.


What a pity! That’s awful.
How sad! Poor old you, ……


O dear! I am sorry. I’m awfully sorry.
What bad luck! That’s a pity!
You must be very upset / annoyed.

Task 1: In each of the following exchanges, the one who
sympathises is not using the appropriate expression,
make his expression communicatively effective.

a. A: My cousin got his leg fractured in an accident.
B: He’s poor.

A & B are watching a cricket match on TV

b. A: How great Anil Kumble is! Look here, he’s bowled out
Muralidharan. (Suddenly the power goes off)
B: The power has gone; it is bad.

Task 2: On the first day of the Pongal holidays, you ring up to
your friend Arvind to invite him to a party that evening.
He tells you he is running a high temperature. Write a
telephone conversation between you and your friend.

Task 3: Your uncle has invested all his life’s savings in a
company. He has just heard that the company has gone
bankrupt. Write a dialogue between you and your


Pair work: Play roles in the above dialogues.

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