View Full Version : "Well that must be nice" - sarcastic or friendly?

10-22-2010, 03:59 PM
As a general rule - I understand context, tone of voice, etc matter, but if you say (real life example) that you have the three days off before Thanksgiving and the response is "Well that must be nice"... is the respondent being sarcastic or friendly?

10-22-2010, 04:07 PM

10-22-2010, 04:19 PM
It could be mean-spirited envy or friendly envy.

10-22-2010, 04:22 PM
When I say something like that, I generally mean it in a catty/jealous/sarcastic way. You can usually tell from tone of voice though. Anyway, when I hear it, even if the tone seems genuine, I think "Shut up! Abort! You are throwing something up in someone's face! Stop! Retreat! Retreat!"

I used to have this manager, who, whenever you babbled on incoherently to her, would always respond with a thoughtful-sounding, "Interesting." I have come to understand that when people say that, what they really mean is "Shut. Up. Are you finished talking yet?"

"Must be nice" is a way to say "Hey look at me! My life sucks and you just rubbed it in my face. You should now pay attention to me and slather me with sympathy for my shitty life."

Nzinga, Seated
10-22-2010, 04:42 PM
Hateful, mean spirited jealousy. My sister says it all the time, and I just cringe.

I don't mind someone saying, "Oh, you got to go on vacation to Vegas? I'm so jealous!" directly to me. That is perfectly ok, in fact.

But this, "Must be nice..." stuff is usually said either to one's face to be spitefully miserable or more often behind ones back to be spitefully and underhandedly miserable. I chastise my sister every single time she does it, but it never deters her.

10-22-2010, 04:43 PM
In my lexicon, "must be nice to do X" is petty snark, "I would love to do X" is genuine, if maybe a bit selfish.

10-22-2010, 04:46 PM
Could be a bit of both, but it's definitely green-eyed sarcasm.

10-22-2010, 05:08 PM
It could go either way, depending on inflection and facial expression.

10-22-2010, 05:53 PM
Do I know you? Well enough to know that it's been a long time since you had a bunch of days off in a row and that you enjoy spending time with your family? Then it's friendly. I'm happy for you and sincerely believe that it's nice for you to have those days off.

Was my request for the same days off turned down? Then when I way "Well that must be nice" what I mean is "I feel like slashing your tires."

10-22-2010, 06:16 PM
I could absolutely say that to someone without a hint of sarcasm or snarkiness. Depends on what's going on in my life. If I'm retired, I understand completely how it must be nice to get so much time off from a busy job (but I have every day off, so why would I be snarky about it?). If you get three days off before Thanksgiving from your mundane boring job that I couldn't do for three days to begin with, while I have to work at my well-paying and fulfilling job, I would be happy for you with no reason to be jealous (days, good; job, sucky). That is also something that I (being me) would tend to toss off when I have actually left the conversation and am onto something much more interesting to me but don't want to ignore you.

Cat Whisperer
10-22-2010, 06:53 PM
I think it's possible that some people could say that phrase and mean it with love and joy in their hearts, but it has come to be associated with petty jealousy so much at this point that I would just choose a different phrase - "Oh, that sounds like a really nice vacation." or "Good for you - you deserve some time off."

10-22-2010, 07:04 PM
If it was sarcastic, that would mean "that" wasn't nice. I don't think that's how it's generally intended. It may often reflect some level of jealousy, but not sarcasm.

10-22-2010, 11:15 PM
Well that was the easiest poll I ever voted in ;D

Little Nemo
10-23-2010, 02:34 AM
I voted friendly. If somebody told me they had a few days off, I tell them that was nice and I'd mean it. And I'd assume they meant it if the situation was reversed.

10-23-2010, 03:16 AM
Well that was the easiest poll I ever voted in ;D

Good for you.

OK I can't say that without it sounding snarky either. That just reads bad like "must be nice".

10-23-2010, 03:31 AM
If it was sarcastic, that would mean "that" wasn't nice. I don't think that's how it's generally intended. It may often reflect some level of jealousy, but not sarcasm.

I think the sarcasm is in the fact that it isn't considered nice for the person saying it.

That said, I hear it more often used as being idle chit chat, more as a way of saying what you just said is not important, and I'm going to move the conversation along.

Employee: I just got my dog trained.
Boss: That must be nice. Now what about that work I gave you?

10-23-2010, 10:45 AM
My ex-wife used to say that to people in this snarky, drippy voice. Made me crazy.

10-23-2010, 10:59 AM
"Must be nice" is a way to say "Hey look at me! My life sucks and you just rubbed it in my face. You should now pay attention to me and slather me with sympathy for my shitty life."

Quoted because I couldn't put it any better than this. Oh, except for the undertone of criticism: I have to work hard for a living and face the harsh realities of life, which makes me superior to you.

10-23-2010, 11:35 AM
Are you sure she wasn't ordering you to visit the French Riviera?

10-23-2010, 01:00 PM
Well that was the easiest poll I ever voted in ;D

Well, that must be nice. :p

John DiFool
10-23-2010, 03:25 PM
My mom of all people told me this one last week:

Two old bitties are having their weekly luncheon together:

"Oh Ethel, did I forget to tell you that my youngest son is now engaged?"

"Oh, isn't that nice!"

"And last week my granddaughter won 1st prize in her gymnastics meet."

"Oh, isn't that nice!"

"And I can't wait for our 50th anniversary-my husband is sure to surprise me with some expensive piece of jewelry, as is his custom."

"Oh, isn't that nice!"

"What was the most expensive thing that your husband has done for you, Ethel?"

"Well, let's see...I'd have to say it was his sending me to charm school early in our marriage, so that I'd say, "Oh isn't that nice" in casual conversation instead of "Who gives a flying fuck."

10-24-2010, 08:39 AM
I go with the previous poster.
People tell me stuff that has nothing of interest for me. They are happy, and proud. I am disinterested, and bored, yet, not rude. I look for something to say. "Well, maybe your son isn't an idiot after all...just slow!" Nope. "So, the fat slob daughter finally landed a man? Great!" So, while I am casting about for something, I remember what I heard somebody else say: "Well, that must be nice!"

Best wishes,

10-24-2010, 10:18 AM
Depends, but in the OP example, I'd lean toward friendly or neutral. Unless, of course, it was followed up with "I wouldn't know, myself. Some of us have to work for a living." In which case I vote for snotty, sarcastic, whininess.

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