11 Other Ways to Say “Unfortunately”

Are you trying to share negative news with someone, but you’re worried about using “unfortunately”?

It might be good to look into some words that teach you how to say unfortunately in a positive way.

That’s what this article is here for! We’ll help you learn the best options for what to say instead of “unfortunately.”

Other Ways to Say “Unfortunately”

  • We regret to inform you
  • I’m afraid to say
  • Regrettably
  • Sadly
  • I’m so sorry, but
  • Sorry about this
  • Alas
  • We’re sad to say
  • In an unfortunate turn of events
  • While it brings me sorrow, I must tell you
  • I’m very sorry but


  • “Unfortunately” is correct and works in business contexts, though it is a bit dismissive and impersonal.
  • “We regret to inform you” works well in formal emails to show you do not wish to share bad news.
  • “I’m afraid to say” is a more conversational option that works really well.

Plenty of great options are available, and it’s worth looking into them! Keep reading to learn more about the best alternatives available.

You can also find out whether “unfortunately” is formal later in the article. Feel free to skip to the final section if that’s what you came here to find out.

We Regret to Inform You (Formal)

“We regret to inform you” is a fantastic formal synonym adopted by many professional organizations. It’s very common to see this phrase included in business emails when sharing bad news with someone.

Generally, “we regret to inform you” works when emailing clients or customers. It shows that you care about their predicament and want to offer them your sincerest apologies.

It’s commonly seen in customer service settings to show that you do not wish to share bad news with someone. Also, “we” implies you are speaking on behalf of a company rather than yourself.

Sometimes, it’s used when a candidate is unsuccessful with their application as well. It shows that you have bad news to share with them, and they will most likely not want to hear it.

You will certainly have more luck with “we regret to inform you” in professional contexts over “unfortunately.” It feels more genuine to the recipient and shows that you truly are sorry for the bad news you have to share.

Here are some examples showing you how to include it in an email:

Dear Adrain,

We regret to inform you that we’ve had to go with a different candidate.

They were more in line with what we were looking for.

We wish you all the best,
Doctors & Co.

Dear Dani,

We regret to inform you that we could not find a solution to your problem.

Please accept this discount voucher as a way of apology.

All the best,

I’m Afraid to Say (Informal)

“I’m afraid to say” is a great informal alternative you can use. It’s the perfect conversational option because it shows you do not wish to share negative news with someone you care about.

It’s quite polite to start a phrase with “I’m afraid.” That’s why you might come across it in an essay as well (though it depends on the tone of the essay).

Generally, “I’m afraid to say” works best when messaging coworkers or friends whom you might have to let down. If you’ve previously agreed to do something with them but have to cancel later, “I’m afraid to say” might be a good way to start your sentence.

You can also use “I’m afraid to say” in some formal settings. However, we don’t recommend using it over “unfortunately” in formal emails. It does not do as well when you’re trying to show that something did not go to plan.

These examples will show you how you can write it:

I’m afraid to say that things have not gone according to plan. We need to think of a new idea quickly.

So, I’m afraid to say that I’ll no longer be able to make it. I wish there was something else I could do.

Is It Formal to Say “Unfortunately”?

“Unfortunately” is formal, but it might not be the most effective term to use at the start of a sentence. Many businesses use “unfortunately” when delivering bad news to someone via email.

So, why is it not all that effective?

The issue comes from “unfortunately” sounding too dismissive and impersonal. Many people prefer to hear bad news when it seems like you’ve put more effort into caring about their situation.

For example:

  • Unfortunately, you were not successful.

Here, “unfortunately” works, but it’s not very caring. It simply shows that someone did not “succeed.”

  • We regret to inform you that you were not successful.

Here, “we regret to inform you” (the formal alternative) makes it sound like you genuinely care that someone did not succeed.

That’s why “unfortunately” isn’t always the best choice if you want to spare someone’s feelings.

Feel free to bookmark this article if you want to remind yourself of some of these things! That way, you’ll always have an alternative for “unfortunately” ready to go.