I am going to imply that someone has disappointed (not discouraged) someone else by their actions. How should I convey this message properly and idiomatically in everyday speech?

I want you to study more. I've asked you many times to study. We're short on cash these days. I have no job. I sent you off to school to find yourself and makeup all these problems one day when I'm not able to manage the affairs. To stand in your feet and hold your own. Instead, you stay out till late night every day and don't pay any attention to me. You're disappointing me by your actions. (Said a mother to her son.) [Self-made monologue.]

I was wondering whether the sentence "you're disappointing me by your actions" is an idiomatically natural phrasing in this sense or I have to change it to make sense.

The problem is that when I google the sentence, I cannot hit even one single result. Perhaps native speakers phrase it differently or they use different verb here.

  • 1
    I would prefer "You're disappointing me with your actions," but it's a bit overly-formal. Just "You're disappointing me" or "I'm disappointed in/with you" are more common (see this English.se question for more on the last example)
    – Esther
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 14:47
  • 1
    The paragraph is not idiomatic and this is an editing question. To be disappointed by something, however, is fine in English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 15:13
  • The aspect of syntax being queried here doesn't particularly relate to preceding You're disappointing me... I suppose by [possessive] action[s] is an "adverbial" element. The adverbial element could just as well occur in He risked his life... / He tried to woo her... / He is making a fool of himself... by/with his actions. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


let somebody down

from Merriam-Webster:

let down verb
2 b : disappoint
// the plot lets you down at the end
// afraid of letting his father down

As with many phrasal verbs, "let someone down" is informal or neutral sounding, whereas "disappoint" sounds more formal.

To "let someone down" means for a person not to do something that someone else was expecting, knowing (or reasonably being expected to know) that they were expecting it. In contrast, "disappoint" applies more broadly and can refer to anything not doing what is expected.

For instance, if you travel to the Yukon to witness the aurora borealis, but don't enjoy it, you could say the aurora disappointed you, but you could not say it let you down, since the aurora didn't know that you were expecting to enjoy it.

But "let down" does apply to a child not working hard enough to please a parent.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .