Making Complaints

Conflict in family
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There are a number of formulas used when complaining in English. It's important to remember that a direct complaint or criticism in English can sound rude or aggressive. It's best to mention a problem in an indirect manner. Here are some of the most common:

  • I'm sorry to have to say this but...
  • I'm sorry to bother you, but...
  • Maybe you forgot to...
  • I think you might have forgotten to...
  • Excuse me if I'm out of line, but...
  • There may have been a misunderstanding about...
  • Don't get me wrong, but I think we should...

After you study these constructions, take the making complaints quiz to check your understanding.

More English Functions

Disagreeing
Contrasting Ideas
Making Complaints
Asking for Information
Giving Advice
Guessing
Being Imprecise or Vague
Saying 'No' Nicely
Showing Preferences
Making Suggestions
Offering Help
Giving Warning
Demanding Explanations

Construction

FormulaExample Finish
I'm sorry to have to say this butI think we need to take another approach.
I'm sorry to bother you, butI think you need to refine this layout.
Maybe you forgot toinclude his name and number.
I think you might have forgotten tofinish the report on time.
Excuse me if I'm out of line, butyour work has not been adequate lately.
There may have been a misunderstanding aboutwhat I expected from you.
Don't get me wrong, but I think we shouldconcentrate on the Smith account for the moment.