compliment in English

How to give somebody a compliment in English

Most English people love giving compliments! It’s an easy way to make your friends feel good about themselves and it can be a nice way to start an English conversation too.

We tend to talk about someone’s overall appearance or their clothes. (Anything too specific about features sounds more like a chat-up line!)
Have a look at the common compliments below:

You look well. Have you been on holiday?

You look well. Have you lost weight?

I like your bag. Where did you get it?

Those glasses really suit you. Are they new?

Did you notice the structure of a nice compliment in English?:
Mention overall appearance + question
Mention clothes/accessories + question
Using that structure means you make the other person smile and a conversation begins.

YOUR TURN – Try to fill in the gaps without looking at my compliments above!
You l_______ w_______. Have you b_______ o_______ h_______?
You l_______ w_______. Have you l_______ w_______?
I l_______ your bag. Where d_______ y_______ g_______ i_______?
Those glasses r_______ s_______ you. Are they n_______?

One thing to watch out for is the pronunciation of suit. It’s pronounced /suːt/ so it rhymes with boot.

Now, with compliments, your intonation is really important. You don’t want to sound flat and monotone (like a robot!) so you need to sound positive and sincere. Listen to my compliments.

Can you see what I mean? It’s almost like I’m smiling when I say it.

YOUR TURN – Try to repeat the compliments with similar intonation. You can practise on a friend or in the mirror 🙂

By the way, do you know what the other vocabulary in bold in this post means? Add any useful words or phrases to your notebook!

So I have a question for you: Is it common to give compliments in YOUR country? What type of thing do you normally say? Leave me a comment at the very bottom of this page please because I’d love to hear your thoughts and it’s a great way for you to practise writing in English 🙂 

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

10 thoughts on “How to give somebody a compliment in English

  1. Hello Nicki, this topic is great and very useful in day to day , to learn how to give somebody a compliment is important in order to start a conversation.of course, we use this in our country as well.thank you so much

  2. First off, thank you so much for the tips you give because it’s so useful for me to understand english. In my country (which is Spain) we usually do so many compliments and in my case, i really like to give compliments based on a person good manners or in its personal appearance. I mean, i don´t like at all to give compliments if i don´t really want it (if i really like your new dress or your new haircut, then if i feel comfortable with that or if i found you interesting, i would probably give you a compliment). But in general, in Spain most of people do this all the time, i’m not sure if it’s in a honestly way or not, but it happens all the time.

    Thank you so much for your efforts in teaching us english, it helps me a lot and greetings from the canaries.

    1. Ah thank you for your lovely comments Nicolas. I’m so pleased you are finding the materials useful and it’s always interesting for me to hear whether things are similar in other countries! It sounds like in this case, England and the Canaries are 🙂

  3. I like giving compliments to the people. If I realy like something about a person I would like to say it. It can be about outfit, outlook, a good manner vs. Some examples: “This colour suits you, you are so thoughtfull, you are so kind.”

    Thank you Nicki for your efforts.

    1. Ah thank you for your lovely comments Hatice! I agree that it’s nice to pass on your positive thoughts to others as it can really make their day!

  4. Hi Nicki, thanks for the useful exercise. I‘ll definitely use that on my next visit in England. And yes, in my Country we also give compliments. Normally I say “you look well today” or “you have a nice sweater, the color really suit you “ ……..
    By the way, Nicki, I have a request to you: I often do not know how I can kindly give my postcard greetings to my English friends. For example birthday greetings, Easter greetings etc.
    Can you give me some nice phrases that make my post a little better ??

    1. I’m glad to hear you are going to try compliments on your next visit 🙂 Yes of course I can give you some phrases for wishing people a nice birthday, etc. I’m sure that will be useful for other English learners too so I’ll write a blog post on that soon!

  5. As an American, I only vaguely remember the last time an American complimented me, but sometimes my Chinese and Vietnamese friends often have. Most of the time when an American has complimented me, they were softening me up for bad news or trying to make me feel better afterwards. It’s left me with a very awkward relationship with compliments.

    1. Oh I’m very sorry to hear that that’s your experience Paul. Personally I try not to give compliments unless they are sincere….I hope the ones I get are also genuine 🙂 As you suggested, maybe it depends on the culture of the country, which is very interesting. As an aside, ‘soften somebody up for bad news’ is a great expression that I’m sure any English learners reading this will like!

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