read one's countenance /or face


Senior Member
Does ' read one's countenace or face' sound natual in spoken English? If not, what do you say?

I always try to read my mom's countenance when I come back home. If she looks angry, I just go to my room . Also, at school, I always read my teaher's countenance. In the morning, I try to find out how she feels today. If she looks upset, I never try to do things that bother her. Even, I read my friends' countenances. Sometimes, my friends get really mean, so I try not to do things that can get on their nerves.
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    "Expression" sounds more natural to me than "face" or "countenance" in that sentence, halmom: I always try to read my mom's expression when I come back home. If she looks angry...

    But "face" and "countenance" are certainly possible. I think "face" sounds a little more like ordinary speech. "Countenance" sounds rather literary to me.


    Senior Member
    And which one is better:

    I saw that he was happy by his countenance.
    I saw that he was happy in his countenance.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "From" would be better in that case,

    I saw from his face/countenance that he was happy.

    I knew he was happy- I could see it in his face/countenance.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    From his countenance, I deduced that he was happy.

    As said above, it's a literary word and needs a literary setting. It sounds more natural at the beginning (as also in Veli's first sentence). First you see the evidence, then you draw a conclusion.

    It's not a direct synonym of face. You would never look someone in the countenance instead of the face. A face is a physical object, a countenance is a state of that object.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    This is also possible in BE:

    I could see/tell by her face that she was happy.

    Ivan's suggested I saw she was happy by her face doesn't feel very idiomatic to me.
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