BBC New How to – make complaints: Things don’t always go our way, so being able to make a complaint is a useful skill in any language. But how do you do it effectively and politely in English?
The British are famed for their politeness, so let’s listen to Finn and the Learning English team as they do some roleplays in a fictional hotel. Which phrases do native English speakers use when they are complaining?
Use softening language
Instead of directly saying that something is bad or not working, you can soften it by using seem to or appear to.
The form is seem to + infinitive + the problem
Often, the infinitive is be. For example:
- Sorry, there seems to be a problem with the radio.
- Excuse me, there appears to be a problem with your ticket.
And these sentences, in the negative, take auxiliaries like can’t and don’t:
- I can’t seem to switch on the TV.
- There don’t appear to be any slippers in the room.
BBC New How to – make complaints (Transcript Video)
BBC How to…
- BBC New How to – make complaints
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- BBC How to… tell a story
- BBC How to… show interest
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- BBC How to… tell about serious incidents
- BBC How to… get back on topic
- BBC How to… gossip
- BBC How to… to tell about funny incidents
- BBC How to… respond to compliments
- BBC How to… express no strong feelings
- BBC How to… talk about things you don’t like
- BBC How to… talk about things you like
- BBC How to… close topics
- BBC How to… extend a conversation
- BBC How to… take offence
- BBC How to… express uncertainty
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