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Learn These English Expressions to Criticize Someone Politely

Criticizing someone can be a stressful task for English learners because it involves saying negative comments that might upset another person. Learn and use the English expressions in this lesson to express your criticism in a more polite and indirect way.

If you want to say the quality of something is not good, you can start by saying "to be honest", "honestly", or "in all honesty" and then say:

  • It's not quite there yet.

  • It's not great.

  • I think it could be better.

  • I think there's room for improvement.

  • I'm afraid it's not good enough.

If you want to say that someone's idea or proposal is not what you want, you can say the following:

  • It's not really what I was looking for.

  • I had something else in mind.

  • I was hoping for a different idea.

If you want to request changes or improvements, you can use the following expressions:

  • Why don't you try (doing)...instead?

  • Would you be able (to do)...?

  • What about if you (do)...?

  • Perhaps it would be better (to do)...

Practice

What would you say in the following situations? How would you tell them that you don't like it and how would you suggest an improvement?

  1. Your team of engineers show you the new prototype they've built but you're not impressed by it.

  2. Your team member shows you the presentation you want to give to a client but you think it's not very good.

  3. An interior designer presents a design idea for your apartment but you don't like the colors in it.

  4. Your financial planner suggests some investments that you don't agree with because they're too risky.

Possible Answers

  1. In all honesty, it's not great. Would you be able to make it smaller? What about if you use a different material?

  2. To be honest, I think it could be better. Why don't you try adding more charts and graphs instead of just using text?

  3. Honestly, I think there's room for improvement. We had something else in mind. Would you be able to use brighter colors in the design?

  4. To be honest, it's not quite there yet. It's not really what I was looking for. Perhaps it would be better to choose investments that are less risky.

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