Mar 012013

It’s always nice to receive a compliment, but what is the most natural way to respond? In this BBC How to… respond to compliments programme, William shocks some of his colleagues at BBC Learning English by suddenly complimenting them. How will they react?


Standard responses
Thank you, that’s very kind!
Thank you, that’s very kind of you (to say so).
Showing surprise
You can show surprise at a compliment by explaining why it is unexpected. So, if someone compliments you on an item of clothing, you might say:

Oh, I’ve had this for ages.
Really? It was only cheap!

Sharing responsibility
If you receive a compliment for a piece of work which was a joint effort, it’s important to make this clear.

Thanks! Ramesh worked on it too.
It wasn’t all my work. Ramesh gave me a lot help.
That’s very kind. I’ll tell Ramesh – he helped me loads.

Returning the compliment
You can often respond to a compliment by returning the compliment – by giving a compliment back.

Oh, thanks very much! You look very nice too – I like your coat.

Humorous responses
In the UK, it is very common to respond to unexpected compliments by suggesting that the person paying you the compliment wants to ask a favour. This is a joke and probably won’t cause offence to native English speakers.

What are you after?
What do you want?
Flattery will get you nowhere.

* Flattery is the giving of praise and compliments that you don’t really mean. This phrase means that it doesn’t matter how many compliments you receive – you won’t give any favours in return!

BBC How to… respond to compliments Transcript Video


BBC How to… Part 7

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