Imagine someone is very upset because of way some (very wealthy and influential) people have treated him and has lost his hope totally. He is really depressed now. A close friend who is well aware about the bad manner they have treated his friend, comes to him and wants to sympathize with him. He says: this is an old rule. Often, more powerful people win the game because they have more influence, more money and higher ranking in public eyes. They usually win the game. But I know you were right.

  • This is the way of the world.

Does the sentence above sound natural to you? In our language, this is an emotional saying [direct translation from our language] which is used in similar cases to indicate that the world games not only are not always fair, but also often times the world treats you unfairly.

If it doesn't sound idiomatic, then please let me know how shall I convey this message?

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    "Such is the way of the world, that's the way of the world, this is the way of the world." All are fine. But phrasing aside, these are kind of depressing to say to someone you're consoling.... Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 11:02
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    That's right @TeacherKSHuang. It would have such a connotation too. Thank you very much for being of help.
    – A-friend
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:39
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    +1 for the comment from @TeacherKSHuang. "That" is more idiomatic than "This" in this context, but either way it's rather a sucky form of consolation! :-) By way of alternative, you could forget English, move into pseudo-Latin, and tell your friend illegitimi non carborundum. Or, my favourite (here in English, but presumably with equivalents in most languages"), This Too Shall Pass
    – tkp
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 2:27
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    I think a more common phrase is "Well, what can you do?" It's used in the type of situations you mentioned - I used it last night when I was telling a friend about not getting a job interview. I explained the situation, she was commiserating with me, and then I just shrugged and "Well, what can you do?" - in other words, "that's just how things are some times" - there is nothing I can do to change the situation, I can only accept it. I think Americans at least use it a lot more than "that's how the world works."
    – Harukogirl
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


It is a reasonable expression, that can be understood in context. It is often better to phrase things originally, and avoid cliché or over-used expressions.

There are lots of alternatives which offer varying amounts of pity:

That's just the way it is.
Well, there's nothing you can do.
No use crying over spilt milk.
Don't let the bastards grind you down.
In a hundred years time, who is going to care.

and so on.

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