19 Other Ways to Say “Unfortunately”

Other Ways to Say Unfortunately

In everyday interactions, there are times when we need to deliver less-than-ideal news or express sympathy. The term “unfortunately” is often our choice.

In this article, we’ll look at other ways to say “unfortunately” in English, providing context and examples for each. Ready to improve your language toolkit?

Other Ways to Say “Unfortunately”

Language is a powerful tool, and the words we choose can greatly influence the tone and reception of our messages. By expanding our vocabulary, we can convey messages with greater precision and empathy.

Expressions of Regret

Sometimes, we need to express regret or apologize for a situation. Here are some alternatives to “unfortunately” that convey a sense of regret:

1. Regrettably

Example: “Regrettably, the event has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.

Meaning: This term conveys a sense of sorrow or disappointment about a particular situation.

Usage: It’s often used in formal communications, such as official announcements or emails.

2. Sadly

Example: “Sadly, we won’t be able to attend the wedding.

Meaning: This word expresses sorrow or unhappiness about a situation.

Usage: Suitable for both formal and informal settings, it’s a direct way to convey disappointment.

3. I’m afraid

Example: “I’m afraid that’s not possible at the moment.

Meaning: A polite way to convey bad news or decline a request.

Usage: Common in everyday conversations, especially when delivering news that might not be well-received.

Conveying Unexpected Outcomes

At times, we need to communicate outcomes that were not anticipated. Here are some phrases that can help:

4. To my dismay

Example: “To my dismay, the package didn’t arrive on time.

Meaning: Expresses surprise and disappointment about an unexpected outcome.

Usage: Suitable for situations where an outcome was contrary to one’s expectations.

5. Much to our chagrin

Example: “Much to our chagrin, the project proposal was rejected.

Meaning: A formal way to express strong disapproval or distress over an unexpected situation.

Usage: Often used in formal or written communications to emphasize disappointment.

6. On the downside

Example: “The team performed exceptionally well. On the downside, our star player sustained an injury.

Meaning: Introduces a negative aspect or drawback of a situation.

Usage: Useful in scenarios where there’s a need to present both positive and negative sides of a situation.

sad woman

Softening the Blow

When delivering unfavorable news, it’s sometimes necessary to soften the impact. Here are some phrases that can help:

7. On a less positive note

Example: “The conference was a success. On a less positive note, we went over budget.

Meaning: A gentle way to introduce less favorable news after sharing something positive.

Usage: Ideal for meetings or presentations where there’s a mix of good and bad news.

8. It’s a pity that

Example: “It’s a pity that the workshop was canceled.”

Meaning: Expresses disappointment or regret about a situation.

Usage: Suitable for both casual and formal conversations to convey sympathy or regret.

9. Alas

Example: “Alas, the concert was called off due to the rain.

Meaning: An old-fashioned way to express grief, pity, or concern.

Usage: While it’s less common in modern conversations, it adds a poetic touch to one’s language.

More Phrases to Say “Unfortunately”

10. To our dismay

Example: “To our dismay, the event was canceled.

Meaning: Expresses disappointment about an unexpected or unfavorable outcome.

Usage: Suitable for both formal and informal contexts when expressing regret or disappointment.

11. It’s regrettable that

Example: “It’s regrettable that the meeting had to be postponed.

Meaning: A formal way to express sorrow or disappointment about a situation.

Usage: Often used in official communications or formal settings.

12. It’s a shame that

Example: “It’s a shame that the concert tickets sold out so quickly.

Meaning: Expresses disappointment or regret about a missed opportunity or unfortunate event.

Usage: Suitable for casual conversations and informal settings.

13. It saddens me to say

Example: “It saddens me to say that our trip has been canceled.

Meaning: A personal way to express disappointment or regret.

Usage: This can be used in personal communications or when you want to emphasize the emotional impact of the news.

14. With regret

Example: “With regret, we announce the closure of our store.

Meaning: A formal way to express sorrow or disappointment.

Usage: Often used in official announcements or formal communications.

15. It’s disheartening that

Example: “It’s disheartening that the project didn’t receive funding.

Meaning: Expresses a sense of discouragement or disappointment.

Usage: Suitable for both formal and informal contexts when discussing setbacks or challenges.

16. It pains me to inform you

Example: “It pains me to inform you that your application was not successful.

Meaning: A personal and empathetic way to deliver unfavorable news.

Usage: Often used in personal communications or when the news has a significant emotional impact.

17. It’s lamentable that

Example: “It’s lamentable that the event had to be called off due to bad weather.

Meaning: A formal way to express sorrow or regret.

Usage: Suitable for written communications or formal announcements.

18. It’s unfortunate to note

Example: It’s unfortunate to note that the conference has been postponed indefinitely.

Meaning: A neutral way to convey unfavorable news or developments.

Usage: Can be used in reports, announcements, or formal communications.

19. It’s with a heavy heart that

Example: “It’s with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to our beloved colleague.

Meaning: Expresses deep sorrow or regret.

Usage: Suitable for emotional or significant announcements, such as farewells or memorials.

19 Other Ways to Say Unfortunately Infographic


Effective communication is not simply conveying information, but doing so with empathy and precision. Although “unfortunately” is a commonly used term to express regret or disappointment, diversifying our vocabulary allows us to communicate more effectively, tailoring our messages to different audiences and contexts. So the next time you find yourself reaching for “unfortunately,” consider one of the many alternatives discussed in this article. This will not only enrich your language but also allow you to connect more deeply with your audience.

For those interested in expanding their vocabulary and discovering alternative ways to convey the same sentiment, Thesaurus.com offers a comprehensive list of synonyms for ‘unfortunately’, such as ‘sadly’, ‘regrettably’, and ‘disastrously’. Exploring these alternatives can enrich our conversations and make our expressions more nuanced.


  1. Is “unfortunately” always negative?
    • While “unfortunately” primarily conveys a negative sentiment, its impact can be softened depending on the context and the phrases used alongside it.
  2. Can I use “alas” in modern conversations?
    • While “alas” is somewhat old-fashioned, it can be used for poetic or dramatic effect in modern conversations.
  3. How can I ensure my message is well-received in cross-cultural communications?
    • Familiarize yourself with cultural norms, avoid idiomatic expressions that might not translate well, and when in doubt, opt for clear and straightforward language.

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