10 Better Ways to Say “It’s a Shame” (Formal Synonyms)

You can use “it’s a shame” to show that something might not have gone as you expected or something bad happened. While it is a decent phrase, in this case, it’s not always the most formal. This article will explore some more formal options that are available.

Better Ways to Say It's a Shame

The preferred alternatives are “it’s a pity,” “I’m sorry to hear,” and “it’s unfortunate.” These options work really well if you’re trying to be polite and formal after finding out about bad news. They’re the best choices if you’re trying to show that something didn’t go well.

It’s A Pity

“It’s a pity” is one of the best alternatives you can use. It shows that something has gone wrong, and you believe it is a “pity” that it had to happen the way that it did.

Generally, people will use this phrase when they wish they could take back whatever happened or went wrong. Even if they didn’t cause the issue directly, they might want to say something like this to show that they empathize with the situation.

  • It’s a pity that it had to work out like this. Perhaps there’s something we can do to fix the issue before it gets any worse.
  • It’s a pity, really. I wasn’t sure what else we could have done differently. I suppose you learn from these experiences.
  • It’s a pity. You had so much potential to get this right, but you didn’t seem to be all that interested in achieving what’s best for you.

I’m Sorry To Hear

“I’m sorry to hear” is another great choice. It shows that you wish something didn’t have to happen how it did. “Sorry to hear” implies that someone has just told you about a bad situation, and you have “heard” it from them.

It always shows that you wish the outcome could have been different. It’s a great formal (and polite) alternative for this reason.

  • I’m sorry to hear things didn’t go according to plan. Next time, you can come to me for help if you get stuck with something.
  • I’m sorry to hear that. I thought it was a sure thing, which is why I put you in charge of it. We’ll figure out what to do next.
  • I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling right now. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

It’s Unfortunate

“It’s unfortunate” is the next best synonym for formal situations. It shows that you wish something didn’t happen and relates to it being bad luck. “Unfortunate” means “bad luck,” showing that a bad thing could have happened to anybody.

Bad luck also implies that nothing could have prevented that thing from happening.

  • It’s unfortunate that things had to work out this way. In any other situation, we could have worked out our differences.
  • It’s unfortunate that you’re not willing to meet me in the middle here. I’m sure we can come to a good compromise if you trust me.
  • It’s unfortunate, and that’s all there is to it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else we can do to make this easier for them.

It’s Too Bad

“It’s too bad” is a great alternative that works in many cases. You can use it informally or formally to show that something was a “bad” outcome. “Too” is also a solid adverbial choice here that helps to stress the situation.

“Too” is required in this statement, though. Saying “it’s bad” isn’t suitable for the same situations. It becomes much too informal when used in this way. Some people would even argue that “it’s too bad” is already too informal to work well in most situations.

  • It’s too bad that you didn’t complete this task on time. I was counting on you to get it done and handed in before the rest of them.
  • It’s too bad that you think that about this company. You were destined to move on to great things under our leadership.
  • It’s too bad, really. We wanted what was best for you, but you weren’t willing to accept that from us.

Such A Shame

“Such a shame” is an old-fashioned phrase that people use to refer to things that have gone wrong. “Such a shame” works best to show that you’re disappointed about an outcome. It shows someone that you didn’t expect something to happen how it did.

Again, it’s fairly informal to use this phrase. Most people avoid using it because it doesn’t always fit into the most formal situations. Nevertheless, the old-fashioned tone of the phrase can make it acceptable for many people in formal contexts.

  • It’s such a shame that you’ve come to this conclusion alone. Maybe there are a few things we can do differently moving forward.
  • It’s such a shame that this had to happen. Hopefully, you’ll change your mind in the future. You can always come back if needed.
  • Such a shame. I thought you were going to be the best of us. It wasn’t meant to be. I’ll see you around.

I’m Sorry

“I’m sorry” is a simple choice if you’re looking to demonstrate regret. If something has gone wrong or you did not expect something to end so poorly, you could say “I’m sorry” to let someone know that you regret what happened.

  • I’m sorry it didn’t work out. If you need anything else from me, just let me know. I want to fix things with you.
  • I’m sorry about that. I’m not sure why it happened the way that it did. I hope you’ll be able to move past this later.
  • I’m sorry. I didn’t realize things were quite this painful for you. Of course, if there’s anything I can do, I will do it!

It’s Regrettable

“It’s regrettable” is a great way to phrase it when something doesn’t go well. If you “regret” a situation or something that happens, it means you wish it didn’t have to happen in the way it did. You might want to go back and change your actions that led to it.

You can also use “regrettable” in situations that don’t apply to you. For example, even if you didn’t do anything to start the chain of events, you might regret the new rules that management has put in place at your company (simply because you don’t agree with them).

  • It’s regrettable that this decision has been made. There’s nothing we can do to change it now, though. Management has spoken.
  • It’s regrettable, but that’s how these things go. The talks developed into something much deeper, and the new rules were final.
  • It’s regrettable that it had to come to this. If there’s anything you’d like to include in your final report, please do so.

An Unfortunate Development

“An unfortunate development” is an interesting choice for formal writing. It works really well because it shows that you learned something that you deem “unfortunate.”

“Development” is used here to show that you were not expecting to hear the news you did. It shows that things might not have gone according to plan, indicating that you are not pleased with the outcome.

  • Clearly, this is an unfortunate development. It wasn’t something that we originally planned for. We must work to get through this now.
  • That’s an unfortunate development indeed. Surely, there must be something we can do to correct the issues we’re facing here.
  • It’s an unfortunate development, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the end. There must be some ways for us to get through this.


“Alas” is a great formal choice. It’s a good alternative to the other options because it doesn’t state that something hasn’t gone according to plan. You can still imply this through context, but “alas” is much more versatile than that.

  • Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Some things in life simply don’t work out. This appears to be one of those things.
  • Alas, it is what it is. We cannot do anything to change the decisions of the board. We must work together to get them sorted now.
  • Alas, we cannot do more. We have to abide by the new rules. If you have any qualms with that, you should raise it with the CEO.

Oh, Well

“Oh, well” is another great synonym that’s worth using. It works well because it shows that something might not have gone the way you expected it. If there’s nothing else you can do to change the outcome, you might dismiss it with “oh, well.”

“Oh, well” is a dismissive statement. It shows that you’re unwilling to put more effort into fixing something. It’s a great one to use when you realize that something has already been decided and can’t be changed.

  • Oh, well. There are some times like this when things just don’t get according to plan. We’ll figure out our next steps later.
  • Oh, well. These things have to happen to allow us to learn. I’m glad it happened so early in the project rather than later.
  • Oh, well. You can’t do much else to remedy this situation. It’s clear that things just didn’t work out in your best interest.