There is a sentence in a textbook.

I'm sorry that the trip was cancelled.

I can think of several sentences similar to this, meaning-wise, but I'm not sure.

1) It's too bad that the trip was cancelled.
2) It's a pity that the trip was cancelled.
3) It's a shame that the trip was cancelled.

I'd like to know if these four sentences are interchangeable or not. if so, which sentence sounds the most natural in daily conversation. If not, could you please explain the difference?

  • To the close voters (reason: "needs more details") – I'd like to know where (besides ELL) someone would go to figure out "which option sounds the most natural in daily conversation". Obviously, they are all grammatical, and examples abound for all of them. This seems like a fair question to me.
    – J.R.
    Nov 24, 2014 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


All four of these are expressing some degree of sadness or wistfulness that a trip was cancelled. There might be very little difference in meaning between them, although:

I'm sorry that the trip was cancelled.

could be indicating some apology on behalf of the speaker. For example, if a travel agent was calling a customer with bad news – that arranged travel plans would need to be cancelled for some reason – the agent would be more likely to use "I'm sorry that..." than any of your other three options.

However, suppose the would-be traveler announces at her weekly bridge game that her trip had to be cancelled. Her fellow bridge players could easily go around the table and say:

I'm sorry that your trip was cancelled.
It's too bad that your trip was cancelled.
Such a shame that your trip was cancelled.

and they all pretty much mean the same thing:

It's so sad that your trip was cancelled.

Among friends, "I'm sorry that..." often means, "I'm sorry to hear that..." However, in the case of the travel agent, "I'm sorry that..." means, "I apologize for saying this, but..."

As for any other nuances, I'd be inclined to say that "It's a pity that..." sounds a bit old-fashioned, or perhaps a little stilted for everyday conversation. That said, all of them can be used as expressions of empathy.

  • shame to mean so sad? I'm sorry to hear your loss = Such a shame that you lose?
    – Maulik V
    Nov 24, 2014 at 12:12
  • @MaulikV - Not quite. "I'm sorry to hear about X" would be expressed as "Such a shame about X." A few quotes from Google books: "It was such a shame that he had lost his arm at Waterloo, but he seemed to be adjusting well to civilian life;" "such a shame that he died, so young, only 32, and with a lovely career ahead of him..." "It's such a shame that Frank won't be able to come see Ava;" "It's such a shame that they're just sitting down there collecting dust." I'd say, "I'm sorry to hear of your loss," and rephrase that as, "Such a shame about your loss."
    – J.R.
    Nov 24, 2014 at 12:45
  • @J.R.Thank you so much for all the explanation.I understand the nuance of each sentence. Also interesting to know that I can change to "It's sad that...." Everything is clear now. Nov 24, 2014 at 23:24
  • 1
    I like this answer, and I would like to add one note to it. All four of the different phrasings are typically used in informal conversation, i.e. "small talk". In that setting, they are completely interchangeable, and generally do not have as much meaning as the words alone convey. They are more an attempt by the speaker to indicate some sympathy and validation to the other party. They are typical of the sort of expression of emotion that is sometimes criticized as false because of this. I.e. the person saying "I'm so sorry" is not truly "sorry", etc.
    – Mark G B
    Nov 10, 2015 at 0:07

You must log in to answer this question.

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