Should you tell someone, ‘sorry for bothering you’ or should you say, ‘sorry to bother you’? We’ll tackle the correct way to say it and teach you how to use it in a sentence.
The quick answer is that both ‘sorry for bothering you’ and ‘sorry to bother you’ are both correct. They might just be used somewhat differently.
So, should you say, ‘sorry to bother you’ or ‘I’m sorry for bothering you’? Well, it’s technically correct to say both – similar to phrases like ‘good to hear/glad to hear,’ ‘drive safe/drive safely,’ and ‘at the office/in the office.’
Before we go into detail about the meaning or both, let’s define the word.
The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘bother’ is “to annoy especially by petty provocation: irk,” “to intrude upon: pester,” “to cause to be somewhat anxious or concerned,” “to become concerned,” and “to take pains: take the trouble.”
It’s also defined as “a state of petty discomfort, annoyance, or worry,” “something that causes petty annoyance or worry,” and “fuss, inconvenience.”
Some synonyms for the word are:
There’s only a slight difference in how you’d use each term, which is kind of similar to phrases like ‘relate to/relate with,’ ‘associated to/associated with,’ and ‘in the summer/in summer.’
When someone says, ‘sorry to bother you,’ sometimes, they might be about to ask you for a favor (and they’re currently bothering you to ask for said favor).
When someone says, ‘sorry for bothering you,’ sometimes they’re apologizing for bothering you after they’ve already done it.
In other words, ‘sorry for bothering you’ is more like using it in the past tense, and ‘sorry to bother you’ is more like using it in the present tense.
Some sources believe using either phrase in emails has negative connotations, one of which is that it implies that you've done something wrong.
Let’s take a look at how to use each one in a sentence.
Now that you know there’s a slight difference in how the terms are used let’s take a look at how to use them both in a sentence.
Here’s how to use ‘sorry to bother you’ in a sentence:
Here’s how you’d use ‘sorry for bothering you’ in a sentence:
To recap, it’s okay to use both terms, and now that you’ve seen how to use them both in a sentence correctly, you can follow the examples above and do the same.
If you ever need to refresh your memory or you just want to learn more common idioms and figures of speech, check out our library of articles on that and confusing words.
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