The question below is from my English exercise book.

Select the most suitable response to fill in the blank.

"Excuse me, which is the way to the post office?"
"Sorry, I'm new here. _______"

A. Not at all
B. Bad luck
C. That's true
D. Thank you all the same

For me, all four choices seem to be quite weird. However, I choose option B (Bad luck) because I feel it is the least weird reply in this conversation.

Is my understanding correct? Or should I contact the book's author to change the question and options?

P/S: After seeing Andrew and choster's comments, I have searched the original question on the Internet and it should be like this:

[Speaker A:] "Excuse me, which is the way to the post office?"
[Speaker B:] "Sorry, I'm new here."
[Speaker A:] "_______"

Source: http://m.mofangge.com/html/qDetail/03/c1/201006/58mlc10383009.html

  • 1
    It's unclear who is speaking. If it's the same person who says "Sorry, I'm new here" then "bad luck", weird as it is, seems the only answer to fit in the context – Andrew Nov 30 '16 at 3:19
  • 2
    "Tough luck" would be idiomatic, not "bad luck". – John Feltz Nov 30 '16 at 3:20
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    As Andrew notes, if the response is to Sorry, I'm new here, then the best answer is D; if the response is to Excuse me, which is the way to the post office? then I agree that none of the four sounds natural at all. – choster Nov 30 '16 at 3:21
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    It's still ambiguous, so place "speaker A" next to the relevant quotation(s), and "speaker B" in the others. If you found the link, include it in your question. – Mari-Lou A Nov 30 '16 at 9:58

The most appropriate answer is

D. Thank you all the same.

Because speaker B was polite, and apologized for not being a local resident, speaker A acknowledges his/her kindness by responding politely, too.


As written, the asker asks, then we are asked to complete the response from the answer. If that is that case:

Your understanding looks correct to me -- the best answer is probably "Bad luck." It offers a general comment on the situation. To unpack:

"I sympathize that you had the bad luck of asking for directions from myself, a person who doesn't know."

"Bad luck" is clear enough in meaning -- it is part of a family of phrases that make a general comment on the situation: "Tough break!" "Good show!" "Oh, bad luck!"

However, I am not familiar with "bad luck" as a common statement of sympathy in that context. I would expect it as an exclamation after hearing someone describe a misfortune:

"I caught the bus, but then it broke down."
"Oh, bad luck!"

Perhaps it is more idiomatic in another region ... or era?


"Bad luck" is probably best but it is weird. Many grammar exams like this are written by non native english speakers and contain material that is dated or incorrect. My own opinion is that new learners should learn conversation, perhaps via multimedia, the way kids learn to speak, then learn the grammar later, after they speak in a natural style.

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