Phrases for Responding To Unusual Situations (Death, Sad, Unexpected Gift, Fired)

Certain responses in English seem to be pretty natural.  Like if someone says thank you, you will immediately say “you’re welcome”.  If someone close to you says “I love you”, well you may just end up saying “I love you too”.  But beginners in English and sometimes even those who have studied the English language for a while end up being tongue-tied when faced with not so familiar situations.  In other words, they don’t know the right English words to use to respond properly. In this English lesson have a look at some situations and see what the likely responses for them could be:

1)  On being invited to a party or some event:

  1. A) I’m sorry; I won’t be able to make it
  2. B) It’s a shame I’ll be missing your daughter’s first birthday/ convocation.
  3. C) Thanks for the invitation but I’m going to have to pass/ I can’t go

2)  If you are the one whose invitation has been turned down:

  1. A) I’m sorry you won’t be joining us
  2. B) Oh! That’s too bad
  3. C) We’ll miss you, maybe next time

3) On being told you are beautiful or good looking:

  1. A) Thank you, I appreciate it
  2. B) Awww.. that is very sweet of you, thank you
  3. C) Thanks! That really made my day!!
  4. D) Well you sure have an eye for good things!

4) When a friend or work colleague is sad/upset:

  1. A) Do you want to talk about it? I’m here if you need me!
  2. B) I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but it’ll get better

5) When a friend loses their job:

  1. A) This is only a temporary setback; you have so many opportunities out there
  2. B) With your talent and skills, finding something better shouldn’t be a problem.

6) When receiving an unexpected gift:

  1. A) I don’t know what to say, it’s lovely, thank you
  2. B) That was very kind of you, thank you

7) A friend’s family member passes away:

  1. A) I am terribly sorry for your loss
  2. B) If there is anything I can do, I’m right here!

8) A friend has ended a bad relationship

  1. A) You are beautiful, smart and funny! You’re going to survive this
  2. B) You will be happy again!

Complete Lesson Transcript –

Hi, this is Ceema, welcome back, I’m so glad you could join in today. Well, today, I’m gonna talk about a very interesting topic about responding to unusual situations. Well, certain responses in English seem to be pretty natural. Like, say, for example, if someone says, thank you, you’re gonna say, you’re welcome. Or maybe if someone says, I love you, if you love the person, you’re gonna say, I love you too. However, there are some not so familiar situations wherein beginners in English and even people who speak English every day are kind of tongue-tied when they have to say something. So today I’m going to talk about a few situations wherein you’ve got to respond but you’ve got respond appropriately because sometimes you just don’t know what to say. You can’t just say, an Oh or a thank you or a welcome. You’ve got to say a little bit more than that. Okay, so what are those situations? We’re going to have a look at the situations and look at the appropriate responses.

The first situation is when someone tells you, you look beautiful or you look good looking. Well, not everyone pays you a compliment, not every day right? so when someone tells you that, I’m guessing is gonna be something that happens not so very often and therefore, you’re response should be, something like, that’s very sweet of you, thank you. So if someone says, you’re beautiful, you just say, that’s very sweet of you, thank you or you could say, oh that really made my day, thank you very much. Now if you wanna get a little naughty or a little bit quirky with the person who has paid you the compliment, you could also say, you sure have a good eye or you sure have a good eye for things. Okay so when someone tells you, you are beautiful or good looking, just saying thank you may not be enough every time. You wanna say a little bit more and that’s when you can use these sentences.

Alright and sometimes a friend or a work colleague would be sad or upset. Now because you’re their friend or their work colleague, you hate to see them that way, right? Now, what do you do to make them feel better? Well, you could say something like; do you wanna talk about it? I’m here if you need me. I’ll tell you what, a lot of people who are upset or sad; they may not wanna open up. So it is always good to ask their permission if they really wanna talk about it. Okay, so you always start with, do you wanna talk about it? I am here if you need me which means first you ask the permission and then you assure them that you are there if they want to just have someone to listen to, okay. If the person is ready to speak and has pretty much told you everything that he is sad or upset about, you could say, I can’t imagine what you are going through but it will get better. We say I can’t imagine because we’re trying to tell the person that you’re going through a whole big deal. You know whatever you’re going through is a big deal. So I can’t imagine what you’re going through but you’re telling them that, don’t worry it’s going to get better. It kind of you know peps them up a little bit, right? So when someone is sad or upset, you now know what to say, okay.

And well this is a tricky one, okay because and a very difficult situation really because sometimes a friend or maybe a family member even has lost their job. This is a very painful situation. This situation makes people very angry, very frustrated and probably very sad, right? So, you’ve got to be very careful with your choice of words. There are very few things you can say to someone like that but I think if you say, it’s only a temporary setback. Well, a job loss is a setback because maybe you’ve had bills to pay, maybe you’ve got loans to take care of and now that you don’t have a job, you’re kind of short of money, right? So that kind of puts you on a financial setback. So you should tell the person that look I know you’ve lost your job but that’s only a temporary setback. Okay, it’s not permanent. It’s only a temporary setback or you could say, with your talent and skills, finding something better shouldn’t be a problem. You know when people lose their job in very unfortunate circumstances like say if they were fired or if they had to leave, they kind of start to feel that they are not good enough, right? So you’ve got to make them feel that they are good enough, they can get something better. So they probably have certain talents and skills which are fit for the kind of job they’re looking for. So you’ve got to tell them that with your talent and skills, finding something better shouldn’t be a problem and I’m sure they’ll feel a little bit better than they have already been feeling all along.

Okay, now we’re going to deal with another very unusual situation. Okay but a really nice one. What if you receive an unexpected gift? Well that’s amazing, isn’t it? I don’t get gifts very often so if I were to get an unexpected gift, I’d be really happy. Okay now sometimes, you get a gift that you like, sometimes you get a gift that you don’t like. Okay, so respond appropriately depending on what situation you’re in. so, say, for example, you have a gift or you get a gift that you really like. Okay, you wanted a really cute sweater, you got a really nice sweater for Christmas. So you can say something like, I don’t know what to say, it’s lovely, thank you. You know, why do we say, I don’t know what to say? when I say, I don’t know what to say, I’m saying that I’m speechless, I mean the gift was so amazing, I’m dumbstruck, I don’t what to say. So when you have a gift or receive a gift that you love, you’re gonna say, I don’t know what to say, thank you. I love it. Okay.

Now sometimes you get a gift that you don’t like. Well, what do you do? Well you know sometimes, you’ve got to appreciate the gesture, you know maybe the gift wasn’t good but I think you should appreciate the fact that you were you know given a gift that the person thought about you in the first place, right? So you can say something like that was very kind of you. Don’t talk about the gift because you don’t like it and you don’t wanna sound fake, right? So just talk about the gesture saying that that was very kind of you, thank you, okay.

Alright, the next expression or the next situation, I’m sorry is again a very tricky situation because we don’t know what to do in this case. Supposed a family member of a friend or a relative, one of the passes away. Well that’s a really tragic incident, right? They are going through something very intense. Something very, very sad and well what do you say? You could begin by saying, I’m terribly sorry for your loss, right? I mean you can’t feel sorry enough for someone who is going through something like that but conveying the feeling by saying, I’m terribly sorry for your loss is a good start. Sometimes when people are going through a situation like that, where you know the family member is no more, their life kind of stops for that period of time. Maybe like you know a week or maybe two weeks. They probably don’t cook food, they don’t probably even tidy their house or maybe they don’t even take a bath, you know because they’re just so engrossed in their grief. So you’ve got to help them with things or chores around the house. So you can say something like, if there is anything I can do, I’m right here because sometimes you may need to get them food. You may need to kind of tidy up their house or just do some little bit, you know little errands for them. So this is telling them that you know, I know you’re going through a difficult time, you can’t do things for yourself right now but if there is anything I can do, I’m right here. Okay, so you wanna show that your presence is there for them in their difficult time.

Okay, now this one again is a very difficult situation. Some people go through a bad relationship and fortunately that relationship has ended. Now, a lot of people are still sad because of a relationship, well is a relationship and the end of a relationship can’t be a very good feeling, right? but you know maybe your friend, your girlfriend, she has had a really abusive relationship but now she’s very sad that it’s over because there’s no one around so you can tell her, you’re beautiful, you’re smart and you’re funny, you’re gonna survive this because believe me when you quit or when you come to the end of a relationship, you feel like that’s the end of it. You know, you can’t get anything better in life. I mean that’s just it but no, you tell them that you’re gonna survive this. You are beautiful, you’re smart, you are funny. Okay, sometimes when people end their relationship, they feel like they’re never going to be happy again. They feel like that was the world to them but you’ve got to tell them that there is so much more out there. So you could say something like, you will be happy again, cheer up, okay. Well, these are the unusual situations that I’m sure that sometimes you may come across. Okay, but with these appropriate responses, I’m sure you’ll be able to tackle it in the right way. Well, that’s it from me on this lesson, until then, this is me saying, bye.

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