22. Approval and disapproval

A. Approval

To express approval we often use exclamations,

Excellent – formal

Semi-formal, informal:




A very good idea!

Hear! Hear! – at meetings.

Approval can also be expressed by using such descriptive attributes as nice, beautiful, lovely, etc.

Expressions of approval or praise for an achievement or wise conduct include:

I’m sure you did right.

I’m sure that was the right thing to do (in the circumstances).

Good for you!

Well done!

There’s/ that’s a good boy/ girl! – only to children. Most often used as a means of persuasion.

I take off my hat to you/him – for an outstanding achievement.

That’s/ was clever/ sensible/ thoughtful, etc (of you/ him, etc)

Very sensible/ thoughtful, etc (of you)!

Sometimes, however, less direct and less emotional forms are preferable, as they are not so final and leave the speaker a chance to withdraw his view without indignity if it is not shared by the other person. Thus instead of superlatives or very, rather or quite are often used. In such cases quite means more or less the same as fairly; rather is often an understatement for very and not bad in fact means quite good.

Another useful device for cautious approval is the question tag (pronounced with a rise)

B. Disaproval

When expressing disapproval, you should try to avoid strong terms. For this reason a negative expression is often preferable.

It/ That isn’t/ wasn’t a very good idea.

It/ That isn’t/ wasn’t a very nice thing to say/ do

It/ That isn’t/ wasn’t so interesting as we had expected.

Disapproval may also be expressed by using too.

To make such statements less abrupt and final, we may begin them with Well, personally I think…, or Don’t you think…?

To soften the finality of an attribute describing the poor quality of something, rather and a bit are often used as understatements.

Stronger expressions of disapproval include:

You shouldn’t do/ have done that.

What for?

Whatever for?

That’s silly/ inconsiderate/ thoughtless/ selfish of you. – informal, very

That’s a silly thing to do outspoken, possibly rude

How could you! – implies not only disapproval, but also indignation or reproach.

Whoever heard of such a thing!

You should/ ought to be ashamed (of yourself)

It’s (all) your fault (really)…

You’re (the one) to blame (for…)

The very idea! – mixed with indignation or disgust

{Back to Contents}