Complain to yourself

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CORALINNA

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brasil
I can say:

I thought to myself: “why is that lady crying?”

But can I say:

I complained to myself: “why didn’t the waiter bring the check yet.”
Or
I complained in my mind: “why didn’t the waiter bring the check yet.”

When you want to complain, but you don’t say it and just think about the complaint, can you say what I wrote above?
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don't think I've ever seen "complained" used like that.

    You can complain in writing or verbally, but it comes across to me as distinctly odd to "think" a complaint in the way that you've done there.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, Coralinna. Like Donny, I doubt that I've ever seen this in writing before, but fiction writers do often write about silent remarks that characters make in their heads. I don't find your examples to be as odd as Donny did. I do think that there is room in the wide world of literature for sentences like those in your example.;)

    I complained to myself: “why didn’t the waiter bring the check yet.”
    Or
    I complained in my mind: “why didn’t the waiter bring the check yet.”
    Probably the most conventional way to do this is to add something like "I said to myself" or "I thought" after the remark: Why didn't the waiter bring the check yet?, I thought. I think I've noticed the use of italics in situations that call for this sort of thing.

    In advice meant for aspiring fiction writers, authors frequently mention that it isn't a good idea to get too creative or lively in the little tags that come after bits of dialog. In short, unobtrusive tags like "I said", "he said", etc. are better than "I complained loudly", "he protested as he scowled and banged his fist on the table", etc.

    Adding something like "I complained to myself" doesn't strike me as some terrible literary mistake, however. Remember that much of what you read and hear regarding fiction writing represents nothing more than somebody's personal opinions. In the end, you'll have to consider the advice that makes sense to you, disregard the rest, and strike out on your own.
     
    Last edited:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    It was my pleasure, Coralinna. You have an interesting question regarding something that many people probably want or need to express in their writing from time to time. :)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I've "berated myself" but I don't recall "complaining to myself". There's not much difference, but I think I will stick with "berate".

    be·rate
    bəˈrāt/
    verb
    1. scold or criticize (someone) angrily.


    Of the listed synonyms the ones in green would work fine (in the past tense).

    scold, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, reprove, admonish, chide, criticize, upbraid


    com·plain
    kəmˈplān/
    verb
    past tense: complained; past participle: complained
    1. express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    But you're not rebuking yourself, Coralinna. You are silently expressing your annoyance with a waiter for dawdling. If you notice much more resistance from us natives regarding "I complained to myself", you might consider "I grumbled to myself" or something else to express the idea.
     
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