Can I say "melancholy" instead of "sad" in this context?
Yes. You can use "melancholy" instead of "sad" in this context. Most people do not use "melancholy" in spoken English because it sounds very formal. However, since "melancholy" is synonymous with "sad" so it would be fine to use. Ex: She felt very melancholy/sad when she saw the photos from her childhood. Ex: Many feel sad/melancholy when thinking about loved ones who passed away.
Get more Native English Expressions >