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Giving Bad News

" I regret to inform you that...

This page lists useful phrases for the language function of giving bad or unwelcome news to other people.

Elementary

  1. I'm sorry but ...
  2. I'm afraid ...

Pre-Intermediate

  1. Actually ...
  2. Because of ...
  3. I regret to inform you that ...
  4. I tried ... but ...
  5. I'm sorry to say (that) ...
  6. I'm sorry to tell you (that) ...
  7. In answer to your request, ...
  8. It's not ... enough (for/to ... )
  9. It's too ... (for/to be able to ... )
  10. That is usually okay, but ...
  11. There are some problems (with ... )
  12. There have been some problems (with ... )
  13. Unfortunately, ...

Intermediate

  1. ... won't be possible (at this stage/at this time).
  2. Currently, ...
  3. Due to ...
  4. I am asked this quite often and the answer is (always) ...
  5. I am sorry to have to tell you that ...
  6. I am unable to ...
  7. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.
  8. I checked (with my boss/the relevant documents) and ...
  9. I have some bad news for you (I'm afraid).
  10. I tried my best but ...
  11. I was going to ...
  12. In fact, ...
  13. Instead of that (I'd like to offer you) ...
  14. It's only available ...
  15. Once again, I apologise for any inconvenience caused.
  16. That is usually true, but ...
  17. That used to be possible/allowed/permitted, but ...
  18. That's not really possible.
  19. There are some troubles with ...
  20. There's a rule against that/ ...
  21. This is a result of ...
  22. You need ... 's permission (to ... )

Upper-Intermediate

  1. After consulting with my colleague/colleagues/boss, ...
  2. Bad news, I'm afraid.
  3. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
  4. I am sorry to have to inform you that ...
  5. I attempted (to) ... , but ...
  6. I can see/understand why you might/would think that (but ... )
  7. I thought ... was possible, but ...
  8. I was planning to ... , but ...
  9. I would love to help you, but ...
  10. I'd like to be able to help you but ...
  11. If you look at the attached information, you will see that ...
  12. In reality ...
  13. It's against ... policy.
  14. It's limited to ...
  15. Owing to ...
  16. Rather than that, (might I suggest) ...
  17. Sorry I couldn't be (of) more help.
  18. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
  19. That is usually the case/acceptable/the system, but ...
  20. That used to be the case, but ...
  21. That's the best I can do.
  22. There are some issues with ...
  23. There's nothing I can do.
  24. We always reject/turn down such requests.

Advanced

  1. ... don't have the authority to be able to ...
  2. Although we have been able to respond positively to similar requests in the past, ...
  3. Are you sure you want to hear this?
  4. As you might have guessed, ...
  5. As you suspected, ...
  6. At this moment in time, ...
  7. Brace yourself.
  8. Despite my best efforts, ...
  9. I can see why you might think that/ ... , but ...
  10. I can understand why you would ask/request that, but ...
  11. I can't see any way out of this.
  12. I was hoping ...
  13. I wish I could help you (really I do, but ...)
  14. I would like to warn you in advance that ...
  15. Initially, ...
  16. It appears to be the case that ...
  17. It is my unfortunate duty to report to you that ...
  18. It would appear that ...
  19. It's out of my hands.
  20. Realistically, ...
  21. There's no easy/nice way to say this, ...
  22. There's good news and bad news.
  23. You might want to sit down before you hear this.

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