Compliment to an elderly lady.

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EnglishBug

Senior Member
Chinese
My neighbor is an 87-year old lady, who looks much younger than her actual age.
For several times, I met her when she just returned from some social events. I complimented her with "you look well". She seemed to be shy. I am wondering if it is generally appropriate to say this to an elderly lady like her. Thanks!
 
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  • EnglishBug

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Are you her son-in-law or daughter-in-law? I'm thinking about a younger man complimenting an elderly lady.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I tell my 89-year-old mother-in-law, whom I love dearly, "you look great" (sincerely) and she seems to appreciate it.
    That's exactly what came to my mind too.

    I feel that "You look well," is likely to be understood as a comment about an elderly person's apparent state of health. She might be puzzled by this.

    "You look great," might have that underlying sense too, but mostly is a compliment - the kind of compliment you could make to anyone of any age.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Are you her son-in-law or daughter-in-law? I'm thinking about a younger man complimenting an elderly lady.
    Well, at the advanced age of 71, I guess I'm a "younger man," but I don't think it would change if it were spoken by our children to their grandmother. (Or our granddaughters to their great-grandmother, for that matter)
     

    EnglishBug

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Can I say "you look nice"? Will that be more about her appearance/dressing other than her health state?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    You look nice is all about appearance.
    You look well is all about health.
    You look great will get you a smile.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    You could also say, "You look lovely today."

    Most guys wouldn't think to use that word, but especially with an older woman, it would be non-threatening and much-appreciated.

    Do men feel silly using the word lovely?

    A young babe might not care hearing it directed at them, but a woman who's in her eighties would, I think.

    Maybe not.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US

    You look nice
    is all about appearance.
    You look well is all about health.
    You look great will get you a smile.
    In my opinion, "nice" would be a sort of namby-pamby word in this context, relating more to some effort she has made regarding her clothing, makeup, etc. "Well" does relate to health and suggests that she might have been expected to appear ill or feeble. "Great" or "good" says more about her basic physical attractiveness.
     
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