Today I've learned that "You look tired" or "You look sick" is an insult, which is not in my culture - I'm from Korea.

Sometimes I want to express my worries for example

  • When some colleagues express their tiredness especially when they couldn't sleep well because of some incident in the night when they were on call.
  • When someone coughs or sneezes.

What would be nice ways to sympathize or express my concern in English. "You don't look very well" or "Are you okay" would be okay?


Adding some more information here which is hidden in comments.

I was wondering about the manner in English speaking cultures. I thought "You look tired" is generally regarded as an insult as Google says so, but from the opinions in the comments, it seems it's not always true.

And this is a Dan's opinion which is in the comments,

On American professional culture at least, you don’t say anything that communicates this idea. You don’t communicate anything that conveys the idea that the person’s appearance is flawed.

closed as too broad by user58, A J, Anne Daunted GoFundMonica, Tinkeringbell, Rory Alsop Dec 26 '17 at 11:32

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    Hi, I’m the guy from EL&U from before. Thanks for moving your question here! I’m sure you’ll get some excellent answers. I thought it was worth repeating here what I originally said on EL&U. On Americanp rofessional culture at least, you don’t say anything that communicates this idea. You don’t communicate anything that conveys the idea that the person’s appearance is flawed. This advice applies to polite discourse: as with any other culture, the avenues of speech are much wider in personal contexts with friends or family you know intimately. – Dan Bron Dec 25 '17 at 20:05
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    @DanBron I'm curious why this wasn't seen as a better fit for "English Learners" which was set up specifically for these "How to express {X} in English" when there is an English-as-a-2nd-Language or cultural barrier. Interpersonal is more of a sociology site than "how to express this in English." – Robert Cartaino Dec 25 '17 at 21:02
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    @RobertCartaino I felt it was more cultural than linguistic. A good litmus test is the answer isn’t “here’s a set of English words which will achieve that end”, but “don’t”. – Dan Bron Dec 25 '17 at 21:03

Congratulations on learning English. My sister in law is Korean so maybe I can help you.

You can say things like that, BUT if your English is not good, it can sound stiff and awkward. In addition to that, unless you know the person well enough it can seem intrusive.

You also need to pay attention to your tone of voice and facial expression. Do you appear concerned or disgusted. It's not just the words you use after all.

If you want to show concern, you could say "how are you feeling today"? Or "Is everything okay?" People love to talk about how they feel. Most important is to loosen up.

  • Also don't ever say, "you look sick". – Perry_M Dec 25 '17 at 22:03
  • Is that something specific to German culture? In Australia, I've had people at work tell me that I look / sound sick and should go home, and I've done the same to others. Granted, we are fairly close, so that might also be a factor. – Fodder Dec 27 '17 at 22:08
  • @Fodder No, I guess it's specific to the US. – Sanghyun Lee Dec 28 '17 at 9:19

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