English In The Real World

How to make someone’s day: Give a compliment in English

It’s a great feeling when someone gives you a compliment, isn’t it? It’s a useful way to start a conversation in English, too. When you give someone a compliment, they will become much more open to conversation and it gives to a topic to get talking about right away. How do you give a compliment in English, though? It’s easy, use these expressions to give English compliments in these four areas.

Compliments on performance

When someone does an activity or task particularly well, let them know about it by saying “You did a great job!”. To make this compliment even more meaningful, make it more specific and mention the aspect that you especially liked. For example “That was a great presentation! I particularly liked the funny examples you used.”

Compliments on appearance

Everyone likes compliments about their appearance, especially if we’ve just bought a new outfit or had a haircut. You can use “I like…” or “I love…” to start compliments about appearance, for example, “I like your haircut” or  “I love your hair today”. These phrases work for clothes, too, for example, “I like your skirt”. A great way to continue the conversation is by asking, “Where did you get it?”

Be careful with compliments about appearance, though. Don’t compliment someone’s body or mention their weight unless you know them very, very well.

Compliments on possessions

When you’ve bought something new, it feels great when other people are excited about it, too. For example, if you take out your new mobile phone and a colleague says, “What a cool phone!” it makes you feel like you made the right decision to buy it. Return the favour by complimenting others on nice things they own. If you’re invited to someone’s home, give a compliment about certain aspects of the house that you like. You can make a general statement like “You have a beautiful home” or try something specific like “I love this table”.

Compliments on personal qualities

Compliment someone on their qualities, and you’ll make a new friend! For example, if you like how a work associate is always happy, then tell them. Say, “You are always so happy. It makes my day better!” Use compliments like this for any quality that you appreciate in a person. If you like how organized another colleague is, tell them, “I really appreciate how organized you are. I would love to be as organized as you.”

So, now you know how to give compliments in English. Remember, though, it’s important that the compliments you give people are sincere and not too personal, unless you know the person really well. Try giving someone a compliment in English today and see their reaction. Who knows? You might even make a new friend!

Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.


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