Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you listen to people complain a lot?

Do you wonder what to say when somebody shares a bad experience in English?

Have you heard somebody refer to a complaint as a nightmare in English?

Sometimes complaining about something is important because we need to get it out there.

We’re going to show you how to help them feel heard when they are complaining about something in English.

We’re going to show you how listening and having the right thing to say can show empathy and help with connections too.

Looking At Nightmares A Bit Closer

You hear people say the word “nightmare” all the time, and it doesn’t always pertain to a bad dream.

Nightmare as a bad dream tends to pertain to bad dreams, particularly when you are a kid.

When you are an adult, you might use nightmare to describe bad situations or complaints such as bad traffic or things like that.

Though you don’t want to complain all the time, talking through these nightmares can actually help with connection.

This is centered around a shared experience, and that’s where the connection can come in.

Sharing your complaints is a very common theme and something that natives do with each other often.

Literal and Figurative Meanings To This Word

Adults can actually have real nightmares or bad dreams, this does happen.

When you have these bad dreams as an adult, it can often mean something in your everyday life.

In the literal sense, you may talk about these bad dreams or nightmares that you have–it may be losing teeth or being chased.

It’s more commonly used however when you start to describe something unpleasant or bad in your life.

It may be a nightmare commute or a nightmare breakup, or you could just say that something was a nightmare.

You might say something like “that trip was a nightmare, we paid a ton of money and didn’t even enjoy ourselves.”

You Want To Know The Right Thing To Say

When someone is sharing a difficult situation such as this, you want to offer supporting feedback.

You want to say something to empathize and make them feel better about what they are going through.

You may listen to somebody complain about something in their life and then say “oh what a nightmare!”

The idea is to show this person that you are listening to them and that you are sympathetic to their situation.

If you’re not going to say something like “what a nightmare,” you could say a few other things.

  • What a mess!
  • Oh that’s terrible!
  • Ugh what a disaster!

Whatever you choose to say, it’s all about showing them some empathy and helping them to feel supported.

Empathy Is A Wonderful Thing Sometimes

Sometimes just having somebody to listen can help to make the bad situation a little bit easier to deal with.

It’s about easing their frustrations and helping them to see that you are there for them.

Sometimes we all just need to complain and we want to feel that we’re heard.

We want to know that even though we are going through something, others can relate and want to help or at least listen.

This is a great way to connect by listening and just showing your support.

You want to acknowledge that something bad happened, and sometimes that’s all you can do when you can’t quite put together a solution.

Recognizing this “nightmare” really helps you to connect and shows people that you are empathetic.

Though we don’t want to complain all the time or surround ourselves with people that complain all the time, sometimes it’s inevitable.

These are the things that can help you to connect and work through the bad situation with somebody when they occur.


Sometimes bad things happen and it’s a part of life–and sometimes we need to just let ourselves complain about it.

If you find yourself in a situation where somebody is complaining, you want to show some empathy.

Talking about what a “nightmare” something is helps them to feel validated and shows that you are there for them.

This is a great way to connect through something bad, and to help this other person to get this complaint off of their chest.

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

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

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