'What a shame!' vs 'Oh… What a shame…'


What a shame to deceive you in that way!

What a shame you can’t come earlier.

How easy for a foreigner to mix up the tone and the situations…
And how serious the result could be… :slight_smile:

To be honest, I don’t feel myself so confident with the right tone and contexts - and don’t use the expression.
But often hear and meet it. :slight_smile:

Could you give some recommendation for everyday life? Just not to be trapped… too often :slight_smile:


If you’re worried about falling into a trap with this expression, why not change an exclamation into a statement like: It’s a pity/shame you can’t come earlier or It’s a real shame/pity you can’t come earlier ?

Just a thought.


Alan, I mean(t) that I myself can choose safer words. And do it.

But I am forced to deal with other people’ sayings, every day.
And need to understand exactly (= make distinction between two – so different! – meanings). At least, sometimes… :slight_smile:

You know how common and widely used the expression is.


Maybe I’m being thick but I don’t quite follow what you’re on about. All I can say is that if someone is saying this to you (am I on track here?), I would take it at face value and not suspect sarcasm in others. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?



Actually, most real difficulties I’ve had were not with direct addressing the phrase to me :slight_smile: but rather
with someone’s comments on situations concerned some other people (people’ actions).

Sometimes I actually can’t distinguish which one (pity or shame) British natives actually imply and express :frowning:

Perhaps, my question was/is too abstract…
Next time I’ll try to remember the exact context and re-ask.



Another go then. Pity and shame. I would say shame is the gooey one - you know ooh aah type of expression. What a shame little Johnnie missed the chance of meeting Father Christmas because they got there too late.

Pity often is associated with touches of tragedy. I’m thinking of the First World war poet, Wilfred Owen and his line:

“My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity” But then I’m probably getting carried away. It’s just that he’s a favourite poet of mine.


Thanks, Alan.

Especially for that.