I've been ill and the treatment is a bit rough

panzerfaust0

Senior Member
mandarin
Hello. I have an email friend whom I write to periodically. A few days ago, he told me "I've been ill and the treatment is a bit rough". I want to ask him what is causing this, but not sure how to say it.

I think the best way is probably, "what are you suffering from", however I am wondering if I can also say, "what is your condition/illness/disease?" or maybe, "what are you sick with".

What is the best way to say it? Thanks.
 
  • Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    This is a cultural matter. (I say that a lot here.)

    There are many ways you could ask that question, but the thing is:should you? This is not someone you know well. They have not chosen to mention it themselves.

    In Ireland, for example, I would not even ask a close friend this question. Culturally, what we do is to express support for what the person is going through, perhaps also regret that we didn't know sooner, and so could not be of practical help, and then say we hope that the treatment is successful and that they'll make a full recovery (the latter only if we are sure that a full recovery is possible).

    We're not supposed to rewrite sentences, but this is a new sentence.

    'I'm very sorry to hear that you have been ill. I hope that the treatment you've been having has been effective and that you are improving? Please take care, and get well soon!'
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    You don't say what nationality your e-mail friend is. If you share a culture maybe you know it's all right to ask outright. Maybe you know that the fact that they didn't tell you, doesn't mean they don't want you to know!

    The first phrase you mentioned is suitable for a direct question. The second is unnatural, because we wouldn't use 'condition' or 'disease' like that; 'illness' is better.
    I agree with Scrawny, though.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    In Ireland, for example, I would not even ask a close friend this question.
    I'm afraid here in the US, people (me included) might well just ask, "What's wrong?" Or, "What have you got?" :)

    But perhaps more likely, I might say, "I hope it isn't very serious" or "I hope you're feeling better soon, keep me updated."
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    But perhaps more likely, I might say, "I hope it isn't very serious"
    Once more I feel like an Agony Aunt, but I think you need to give the other person something to grasp at if he/she does want to talk about their illness. It seems to me quite likely that they do, or they might not have mentioned the "rough" treatment. I think Redwood's suggestion is good, because it shows concern without really prying.
     

    Scrawny goat

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Once more I feel like an Agony Aunt, but I think you need to give the other person something to grasp at if he/she does want to talk about their illness. It seems to me quite likely that they do, or they might not have mentioned the "rough" treatment. I think Redwood's suggestion is good, because it shows concern without really prying.
    Yes, but... What do you think is the 'rough treatment' he mentions? If it's chemotherapy, which is a real possibility, then saying 'I hope it isn't very serious' sounds pretty callous.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    If he has himself told you that the treatment is a bit rough, you could possibly ask him something like "Why's that?" If he didn't want to talk about what sort of treatment he was going through, he wouldn't have mentioned it was rough. The answer should let you know how serious it is and the appropriate thing to say after that.
     
    Last edited:

    panzerfaust0

    Senior Member
    mandarin
    I want to say thank you to all of you who replied. And more importantly, for explaining to me that this is not merely a language issue, but rather, a cultural issue. In my culture, which is Chinese, I believe it's permissible to ask about what's causing people to be ill. Now I know that I should try not to do the same in a
    Western setting.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top