Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sorry For What?

Wow, the weather is awful! I can barely see outside my window and it's almost eight o' clock in the morning. The Internet is unstable here at home so I am once again rushing this post.

Luisa asked in my comments section which was the correct expression, sorry for or sorry about. I decided to answer her question right away as it's linked to my previous post which also discusses the proper use of about.

Now, this is a tricky question. The word sorry carries with it several definitions from describing something despicable (a sorry state of affairs) to even a difficult person (now, he's a sorry excuse for a human being). However, Luisa is asking about the more common use of the word which means contrition and guilt.

When we say I'm sorry, we're usually apologizing for something that offended ("I'm sorry for what I did") or didn't work out ("I'm sorry about what happened"). What's the difference between using for and about? I did a lot of reading on this because I have never thought of this difference and I had to think about it for a bit. Here's my take on it:

The Oxford Guide actually says that sorry for/sorry about have no real differences when expressing apology for something that happened. Consider this: "I'm sorry for being late for class yesterday" and "I'm sorry about being late for class yesterday;" "We're sorry about our daughter's actions" and "We're sorry for our daughter's actions." When expressing sympathy for an event that went wrong, you can also say "I'm sorry for the party turning sour" and "I'm sorry about the party turning sour."

The crucial difference occurs when sorry is used to express compassion: "I feel sorry for the typhoon victims." In this sense, it's attached to the verb to feel: "I feel sorry for them," "I felt sorry for them," "I will feel sorry for them." Then again, you can also say, "I feel sorry about their plight."

Something to take note of, when you're apologizing for something in the present, use "I'm sorry to have given you grief" or "Sorry to have made a mess."

I hope this answered your question, Luisa. Do let me know if you want me to write about something else. I'm also studying how to add audio to my blog so I can tackle some pronunciation issues.

Stay dry and safe, everyone!


GM T said...

Hi Prix,

OT. Sorry. I would suggest that you join my group writing project so that you can promote your blog and acquire new readers too.



Anonymous said...


thank you so much for answering my question.....

your blog is one of best!!!!

God bless you!!!!
...Luisa ^^