May 282015

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)


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