Expressing Sadness

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Some days aren't as good as others. In fact, you may be sad from time to time. How should you express yourself when you are feeling sad? Also, what should you say when someone else is feeling down? Here are some suggestions on how to express sadness and show concern for others.

Structures Used to Express Sadness

The examples used in this section are in the present continuous tense to express feeling sad at the moment of speaking.

You can also use these expressions in different tenses

Informal

Use these informal forms when speaking to your close friends and family. S = Subject 

S + be + feeling down about something

I'm feeling down about work lately.
She's feeling down about her grades.

S + be + upset about something

I'm upset about my friends.
Tom's upset about his boss. He's too hard on him!

S + be + sad about something

I'm sad about the situation at work.
Jennifer's sad about her mother.

Formal

Use these more formal forms when speaking to people at work, or with those you don't know well.

S + be + out of sorts

I'm sorry. I'm out of sorts today. I'll be better tomorrow.
Peter is out of sorts today. Ask him tomorrow.

S + do not + feel well

Doug doesn't feel well today.
The staff doesn't feel well about the changes at work.

Idioms Used to Express Sadness

Idioms are expressions that don't literally mean what they say. In other words, It's raining cats and dogs doesn't mean cats and dogs are falling out of the sky!

Here are some common idioms used when speaking about sadness. 

S + be + feeling blue about something

Jack is feeling blue about his relationship with his girlfriend.
Our teaching said he was feeling blue about life last night.

S + be + in the dumps about something

We're in the dumps about our financial situation.


Kelly is in the dumps about her horrible job.

S + feel + down in the mouth about something

Keith feels down in the mouth about his relationship.
Jennifer is down in the mouth this month. I don't know what's the matter.

How to Express Concern / Show Someone You Care

When someone tells you they are sad, it's important to express your concern. Here are some common phrases to show you care.

Informal

Bummer
I feel you.
Tough luck.
I can't believe that. That's horrible / disgusting / not fair

I'm feeling down about my life lately.
I feel you. Life isn't always easy.

I'm upset about not getting the job.
Tough luck. Keep trying, you'll find a good job eventually.

Formal

I'm sorry to hear that.
That's too bad.
What can I do to help?
Is there anything I can do for you?
Would you like to talk about it?

I'm sorry. I'm feeling out of sorts today.
I'm sorry to hear that. What can I do to help?

Peter's feeling down in the dumps about his job lately.
Would he like to talk about it?

If you see that someone is sad, but that person is not telling you, you can use the following phrases to get the person to open up about their feelings. Make sure to ask lots of helpful questions when helping a friend or a colleague who is feeling sad.

What's the matter?
You seem sad. Tell me all about it.
Why the long face?

What's the matter?
Oh nothing. I'm just feeling a little blue.
I feel you. Life's not always easy. 

Dialogues

At Work

Colleague 1: Hi Bob. I'm feeling out of sorts today.
Colleague 2: I'm sorry to hear that. What seems to be the problem?

Colleague 1: Well, I'm really upset about the changes at work.
Colleague 2: I know it's been difficult for everyone.

Colleague 1: I just don't understand why they had to change our team!
Colleague 2: Sometimes management does things we don't understand.

Colleague 1: It make no sense! I just don't feel well.
Colleague 2: Maybe you need some time off work.

Colleague 1: Yes, maybe that's it.
Colleague 2: Is there anything I can do to help?

Colleague 1: No, just talking about it makes things better.
Colleague 2: Feel free to talk anytime.

Colleague 1: Thanks. I appreciate it.
Colleague 2: No problem.

Between Friends

Sue: Anna, what's the matter?
Anna: Nothing. I'm fine.

Sue: You seem sad. Tell me all about it.
Anna: OK, I'm in the dumps about Tom.

Sue: Bummer. What seems to be the problem>
Anna: I don't think he loves me anymore.

Sue: Really! Are you sure about that?
Anna: Yes, I saw him yesterday with Mary. They were laughing and having a great time.

Sue: Well, maybe they were just studying together. It doesn't mean he's leaving you.
Anna: That's what I keep telling myself. Still, I'm feeling blue.

Sue: Is there anything I can do?
Anna: Yes, let's go shopping!

Sue: Now you are talking. A nice new pair shoes would help you feel much better.
Anna: Yes, maybe that's what I really need. Not a boyfriend, but some beautiful new shoes.

Expressing Sadness Quiz

Provide an appropriate word to fill in the gaps in this dialogue between two friends.

  1. Bob:Hi Anna. Why the _______ face? You don't look too good.
  2. Anna: Oh, it's nothing. I'm just a little ______ about my relationship.
  3. Bob: Love trouble? What can I do to ________?
  4. Anna: Nothing, really. It's just that Tim doesn't ________ well these days. 
  5. Bob: I'm ________ to hear that. Is there _____________ I can do for your or him? 
  6. Anna: No, not really. He's feeling ________ about his studies at university.
  7. Bob: What's the _________?
  8. Anna: His grades are awful.
  9. Bob: ______ luck.
  10. Anna: Yes, he's in the ________ about it, and that doesn't help us.
  11. Bob: I hope things get better soon.

Answers

  1. long
  2. upset / sad
  3. help
  4. feel
  5. sorry  / anything
  6. down
  7. matter
  8. -
  9. tough
  10. dumps
  11. -

More About English Functions

Expressing sadness and concern are just two of purposes called functions. Learn more about language functions such as saying 'no' nicely, demanding an explanation and more.