Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to give bad news in english using alas, unfortunately

Have you heard somebody try to convey disappointment in conversation?

Have you ever heard the word “alas” used in this way?

If you have heard such words then you know that they aren’t used often, but they tend to convey negative feelings in some way.

We’re going to talk about words or phrases that you can use to express disappointment in different ways.

Here’s a question that talks about this very thing.


Hello Lindsay, Michelle and Jessica.

I hope y’all having the best week of your life! As for me, I am really excited to become a freshman at  the University in September. Enough with the introduction, let’s dive into my question. Recently I came across a sentence that is”For many people, alas, hunger is part of everyday life.” I feel like the word alas here is an exclamation which I don’t see that much, if at all. I would like to hear your thoughts on the meaning of that word and also on what other words we can use to convey a similar meaning .

Thanks a lot in advance. I hope you will be answering my question.

Kadir 18 Turkey


All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Subscribe and get the transcripts delivered by email.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to subscribe and save 50%


Understanding This Type of Phrase

This is a word that isn’t used quite as often, but it definitely has a place in English.

So if you look up alas in the dictionary, it means: —used to express unhappiness, pity, or concern.

It can be used to express unhappiness, whether large or small.

It may also mean that you are trying to convey that you feel concern in some manner.

It is all about disappointment or negative feelings in some capacity. 


You Ultimately Want To Share Your Emotions

In the end you are using such words or phrases to convey your emotions.

You might not use a word such as “alas” in everyday conversation, but it’s an option and it gets the point across.

These words are a great way of connecting with somebody that you want to share your emotions with.

There are other ways to express this type of emotion that may be more common in everyday conversation.


  • Unfortunately: This is the most common one and it’s used all the time. It speaks to disappointment in an understandable way.
    • “I went to make scrambled eggs this morning, but unfortunately they were all broken in the package.”
  • I’m afraid (that): It’s common but somehow a bit more professional or formal in nature. You are conveying disappointment, but in a more formal way. This isn’t about fear, but rather about a nice way of expressing your disappointment.
    • “I wanted to give you a good grade, but I’m afraid that you failed the test.”
  • Sadly: This is also a bit more formal in nature, but it is used commonly in conversation. It may also convey that you had some personally sad or negative feelings invested in it too.
    • “They had a beautiful wedding, but sadly they got a divorce two years later.”
  • Much to my dismay: This is a bit more old fashioned, and it’s definitely more formal than the other options.
    • “They put a bid on a house, but much to their dismay, someone gave a better offer and they lost it. “


They all have different uses and work well in conversation to convey disappointment.



There are several words and phrases that you can use to convey disappointment.

You might not use something like “alas” often but it serves the purpose.

Try experimenting with these phrases in conversation to see which ones fit and work best for you.

This is a great way to make a connection and express your emotions at the same time.


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X