Enrich your vocabulary by learning how to give and receive a compliment in English!
”Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They are the only things we can pay,” wrote the Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde in his well-known comedy play Lady Windermere’s Fanfrom 1892.
It seems that no matter how hard up we may be at a certain point in our lives, we can still afford to pay someone a compliment. It does not cost us anything, and a nice compliment, which is a remark expressing admiration, approval or respect, goes a long way. It is appreciated by everybody because everyone enjoys a good compliment. If you would like to charm your English-speaking friends and colleagues from time to time, pay them a compliment in English they’ll never forget. This article will show you how.
Complimenting Someone on Their Clothes and Appearance
If you would like to compliment someone on their appearance and clothes, you can use a variety of expressions:
- You look nice. / You look beautiful. / You look amazing! / What a lovely blouse! / I love your shoes. They are cute. Are they new? / Where did you get your T-shirt? It’s fabulous! / That is a great jacket you have! / I like your haircut.
If you want to make your compliments more emphatic, you can use the adverbs ‘so‘, ‘really‘ and ‘very‘ or the adjective ‘terrific‘. For example:
- You look terrific today! / You always look so beautiful. / You’re looking very glamorous tonight. / I absolutely love you in that dress. It really suits you! / You’re looking very smart today. / My boyfriend looks very smart in his new Armani suit, doesn’t he? (smart– to have a clean, tidy and stylish appearance) / That new hairstyle really flatters you! (flatter – to make someone look more attractive than usual) / You look hot, baby!
A note: Be careful when using the expression ‘You look hot!‘ It has a sexual connotation. When someone looks hot, he or she is attractive in a sexual way, i.e. has a strong sexual appeal.
Complimenting Someone on Their Cooking
Good cooking should always be praised. You can compliment someone on a meal by saying something like ‘This is delicious‘ during the meal or ‘That was delicious‘ after the meal. More examples:
- This food is gorgeous. I must give my compliments to the Chef. / The meal is so tasty! You are a great cook. / The lemon cake is yummy! / Did you make this yourself? I must have the recipe!
Complimenting Someone on Their Skills and Achievements
When you’re complimenting someone on doing something skilfully or well, you can do this in many different ways. Here are some examples:
- What a good answer.You’re an excellent student! / What a marvellous memory you’ve got! / Your house looks great. You have good/great taste in furniture! / A: Look, there’s a ship! B: Oh yes – well spotted!
When you want to praise someone for their achievements, you can simply say ‘Congratulations‘. You can also say this to someone when something nice has happened to them. For example:
- Congratulations to our winner! / A: I’m being discharged from hospital tomorrow. B: That’s good news. Congratulations!
If you want to congratulate someone informally, you can say ‘Well done‘. For example:
- You have passed the exam. Well done!
You can also congratulate someone on something in a very formal way:
- Let me congratulate you on your new job. / Let me offer you my congratulations on your success. / Let me be the first to congratulate you on your wise decision, Mr. President. / May I congratulate you again on your excellent performance.
Accepting Compliments and Congratulations
If someone has just given you a compliment, you should accept it gracefully and with a smile on your face. You can accept a compliment with several different expressions:
- Thanks. / Thank you. It’s very nice of you to say so. / I’m glad you think so. / A: I really like your dress. B: Thank you. It’s nice, isn’t it? / A: That’s a nice hat. B: Thank you. Have you not seen it before? I’ve had it for years.
Warning: Never use the preposition for with the verb congratulate. The preposition on is the right choice. For example:
- I congratulated Terry on winning the race. correct
- I congratulated Terry for winning the race. incorrect
Remember that pleasant words play an important role in our lives. A sincere compliment is a powerful tool of communication. It can even improve our well-being or relationships between people. Sometimes it can completely change our lives – for the better. A beautiful compliment that comes from the heart makes the compliment giver attractive and the compliment receiver happy.