by Liz Walter
Paying compliments (telling someone that you like something about them) is an important part of communication, not only between friends but also at work and in other situations. This blog looks at phrases you can use not only to give someone a compliment but also – often harder – to accept a compliment in a polite and friendly way.
There are several simple phrases that can be used in lots of situations:
What a lovely dress/photo/garden!
I love/really like your apartment/poem/hair/coat!
However, most compliments depend on what it is you want to praise. For example, for clothes you could say:
You look lovely in that dress/those trousers.
You’re looking very smart today.
That jacket/colour really suits you.
If you want to praise something that someone has done, especially something that uses a skill, you could say something like:
You’re so good at drawing/cooking/the piano!
That was fantastic!
Often, we add a specific comment about one aspect of the thing we are praising:
I especially liked the way you played the slow passage/described the scenery.
You really managed to bring the past to life/hold the audience’s attention.
You have a real talent for painting animals/public speaking.
We might also compare someone’s skill to our own lack of it:
I could never do that!
I wish I could make cakes like this/write as well as you.
It is fine to agree that something is nice if you are not entirely responsible for it yourself:
Thank you. Dad gave it to me for my birthday.
It’s lovely, isn’t it? Helen helped me choose it.
Thanks – I’m really pleased with it. I got it in the sale.
It is OK to show that you are proud of something if you are careful not to be too emphatic or boastful:
Thanks – I’m quite pleased with it.
Yes, I’m pleased with the way it turned out.
It’s not bad, is it?
Finally, there are times when we genuinely don’t want to accept a compliment because we don’t agree with it. In those cases, we can say something like:
Oh, do you think so? I’m not that keen on it myself.
Really? I thought the meat was rather dry.
It’s kind of you to say so, but I think I could have done better.