It's a pity/it's a shame

Discussion in 'English Only' started by anglomania, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. anglomania New Member

    Lausanne Switzerland
    Is there a difference in use of these expressions "it's a pity" and "it's a shame"?
    Is one stronger than the other?
    Thank you
  2. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    In my opinion they mean the same and have equal impact. Most Brits use them totally interchangably.
  3. haywire Senior Member

    New Orleans, LA
    US - English
    For those phrases, I'd agree, same in AE.
  4. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    They are the same to me.

  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I actually think there is a difference between these two. They're often used interchangeably, but there are times where "it's a shame' implies less than stellar behavior on someone's part, where "it's a pity" is more of an expression of sympathy.

    For example:

    X: "Poor little Shannon. She had her heart set on being on that cheerleading team. It's a pity she didn't make it."

    Y: "Well, if you ask me, it's a shame the way they treated her at the tryouts. One slip and she was disqualified. They didn't even give the girl a second chance!"

    In the statement of Y, "it's a pity" would sound a little out of place.
  6. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Well said, James M!

    I agree with you completely. Much of the time there is no discernible difference between the two expressions, but sometimes (as in the examples you cited, one is clearly preferable to the other.

  7. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    Good catch, James!

    I was about to say, "No difference," but in your examples there is a difference. :)

  8. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    Good call, totally right. In some circumstances 'it's a shame' can attach blame, while 'it's a pity' merely expresses regret.

    But anglomania, most of the time they are interchangeable (when expressing general regret).
  9. anglomania New Member

    Lausanne Switzerland
    Thank you very much, your explanation is very clear for me.
  10. Espero Antos Senior Member

    Dear all,

    "It's a shame, it's a pity" is, among other things, the title of a song by The Moondoggies
    Now, I wonder if there is any difference - in meaning or at least in intensity - between these two widespread expressions: for instance, is "it's a pity" somehow softer of "it's a shame"?

    Thank you beforehand for your help!

    Shamelessly pitifully yours,

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012
  11. morzh

    morzh Senior Member

    I think they mean mostly the same. Both stand for "it is regrettable".

    "He really wanted to come with us; it's a shame he can't".

    - I cannot attend your ceremony tomorrow.
    - A pity! I'd really like to see you there.
  12. Espero Antos Senior Member

    Thank you very much, Morzh!
  13. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013

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