Sorry For Bothering You vs. Sorry To Bother You (Meaning & Alternatives)

When you’re apologizing to someone for bothering them, there are a few phrases you need to know. The most common two are “sorry for bothering you” and “sorry to bother you.” But which one should be used when?

What Is The Difference Between “Sorry For Bothering You” And “Sorry To Bother You”?

“Sorry for bothering you” should be used at the end of a conversation. “Sorry to bother you” should be used at the beginning of a conversation. “Sorry for bothering you” works after finishing “bothering” someone, whereas we greet someone with “sorry to bother you.”

What Is The Difference Between "Sorry For Bothering You" And "Sorry To Bother You"?

What Does “Sorry For Bothering You” Mean?

When we’re bothering someone at a particular time, we often say this phrase. It’s the present continuous tense, which suggests that we’re currently bothering the person we’re talking to while saying it.

“Sorry for bothering you” is used as an apologetic message for anyone who feels like they might be wasting someone’s time. If you’re interrupting a meeting or asking for help with something, then it might be suitable to use.

It’s most common to see the saying in a business format, where employees apologize for bothering their bosses.

You can use the phrase in multiple situations in life. However, if you want to say it more casually, “sorry to bother you” is generally the more acceptable term. As we said, though, you typically start a conversation with “sorry to bother you” and finish one with “sorry for bothering you.”

“Sorry to bother you” shows that we’re sorry, but we’ve got something to say to you at this very moment in time. “Sorry for bothering you” shows that we’re sorry that we’ve already bothered you and are either continuing to do so or just finishing up.

Example Usage

Now that the meaning has been covered, it’s time to look through some examples. We believe it’s important to learn more about the language by looking through examples of phrases and sayings in action. That way, you can see how they work in a given context and use it for yourself.

  1. I’m sorry to bother you, but do you mind giving me a hand with this?
  2. I am sorry for bothering you; I really needed to get that off my chest.
  3. Sorry to bother you again! I’m just checking in to see how you’re settling into your new home!
  4. I’m sorry if I bothered you, it won’t happen again.
  5. Sorry to have bothered you, I didn’t realize you were so busy.
  6. I’m really sorry that I bothered you, please forgive me!
  7. I know you’re in a meeting, and I’m sorry to have bothered you, but this is urgent.
  8. I’m sorry for bothering you, but you haven’t got back to me about my offer yet, and I was wondering where you stood?
  9. Sorry to bother you again. I was just checking to see if you’re okay!

There are plenty of variations we can show you rather than the ones we’ve started with in this article. It depends mostly on how you’re speaking or who you’re talking to. Most of the wording you use comes down to the rest of the sentence and the tone you want to convey.

In a formal business sense, “sorry for bothering you” or some variation like “I’m sorry to have bothered you” works the best. In a casual, informal sense, any of the other options are valid choices.

Sorry For Bothering You – Example Letter

You might find yourself writing an important letter to your boss. Let’s set the scene for that one.

You’re coming to them with a proposal, but you’re not sure how they will take it. That’s when it’s an excellent time to use the phrase, to make sure they know you mean well. We thought it would be good to show you how you might include it in an example letter so you can see how it flows and stay professional in the same way.

Dear boss,

I’m sorry for bothering you about this; I thought it was a good time to bring it up. I have a proposal that I believe would transition this company to the next stage of the deal, and I’d like you to consider my idea.

You can start your letter like that and continue it in the same formal manner.

You don’t have to only write a letter to your boss when using the phrase. It’s typically a formal situation that will require a letter, but if you were writing to find out more information about something like a college or a school, then you might start the letter in the same way.

How Do You Say “Sorry For Bothering You” Professionally?

As we’ve previously mentioned, “sorry for bothering you” is already considered a professional tone. However, if you’d like to take it a step further, then the phrase “sorry to have bothered you” works well in a professional manner.

Like most phrases in English, delivery is important, but so is the audience. One boss might be fine with you using a casual response, while another would rather the formal “sorry to have bothered you.” Either way, make sure you know who you’re dealing with.

If you want to make sure you stay professional with your speaking or writing manner, use “sorry to have bothered you” at the end of a conversation.

Friendly Ways To Say Sorry To Bother You

Finally, we’ll cover some friendly ways to say the alternative phrases. While “sorry to bother you” is already considered a more casual option of the two sayings, there are some more appropriate ways to use the saying with your friends and loved ones.

  • I’ll get out of your hair!

This is a colloquial phrase that means the same as the phrases we’ve used. We typically use it at the end of a sentence to say that we’re sorry for wasting someone’s time and we’ll be leaving now.

  • I’m not bugging you, am I?

Rather than apologizing for bothering someone, you can ask them a cheeky question like this in a friendly manner. This takes away most of the formality.

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