Can I always use "show" to say what people are feeling or are there exceptions?

For example, can I say:

He has shown no happiness?


He has shown that he isn't happy?


We might use "show" that way, but on its own and without context, the first sentence is not idiomatic.

We might say, He has shown he isn't happy by [growling/attempting suicide/...]
He has shown no happiness is the sort of thing Daleks might say, inspecting their human captive. It doesn't sound quite human.

It is more human to say, He seems happy/unhappy, or He's clearly/evidently happy/unhappy, or He has given no indication that he is [un]happy, or He has indicated that he is [un]happy.

  • Has he shown no happiness? does sound stilted to me, but definitely not inhuman - it's just the kind of thing a very "well-spoken" person might say. He has shown he isn't happy sounds fine to me too, it's just not expressing how (and that might be obvious in context). The more natural suggestions are good! I just think the OP's examples work fine (although you'd generally say has he when asking a question, not he has) Jan 3 at 19:39
  • @cactustictacs: Note that the OP's question marks are misplaced: his two sentences are statements, not questions. I AM a well-spoken person :-) and I would not say "He has shown no happiness." Jan 4 at 4:46

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