16 Other Ways to Say “Sorry to Bother You”

Other Ways to Say Sorry to Bother You

The phrase “sorry to bother you” is a common courtesy used to acknowledge potential or perceived inconvenience before asking for someone’s attention or assistance.

It’s a careful expression often used in personal and professional contexts to soften an interruption.

However, there are various other ways of conveying the same sentiment and this article aims to reveal alternative expressions that capture the essence of the preemptive interruption excuse.

Other Ways to Say “Sorry to Bother You”

1. Before I Dive In

Example: Before I dive in, do you have a moment to discuss the report due next week?”

Meaning: This phrase signals your intention to start a new topic or ask for attention, while also checking the other person’s availability.

Usage: Useful for smoothly transitioning into a request or discussion, especially when you want to ensure it’s a good time for the other person.

2. I Value Your Time, but…

Example: I value your time, but I’m in need of your expertise on a pressing issue.”

Meaning: Explicitly acknowledges the importance of the other person’s time before making a request or asking a question.

Usage: When you want to express appreciation for someone’s busy schedule while also highlighting the necessity of your interruption.

3. Sorry for the Diversion

Example: Sorry for the diversion, but could you clarify your last point?”

Meaning: Apologizes for momentarily steering the conversation or focus away from its current path.

Usage: Ideal for moments when you need to backtrack or ask for clarification on a matter without derailing the ongoing discussion.

4. Would Now Be a Good Time?

Example: Would now be a good time to go over the feedback on my presentation?”

Meaning: Directly inquires about the other person’s current availability to engage in a discussion or respond to a query.

Usage: A respectful way to seek someone’s attention

5. Pardon the Interruption

Example: Pardon the interruption, but could I get your input on this report?”

Meaning: A formal way of excusing oneself before interrupting someone’s activity, emphasizing politeness and respect.

Usage: Ideal in professional settings or when a respectful tone is particularly important.

two people on laptop

6. Excuse My Intrusion

Example: Excuse my intrusion, I was hoping to discuss our meeting schedule.”

Meaning: Similar to “pardon the interruption,” but with a slight emphasis on entering into someone’s space or conversation.

Usage: Useful in both face-to-face situations and written communications where you need to address something promptly.

7. Hope I’m Not Disturbing

Example: Hope I’m not disturbing, but do you have a moment to talk about the new project proposal?”

Meaning: A softer approach that expresses hope that the interruption is not causing inconvenience.

Usage: Best for when you want to appear considerate and ensure the person feels comfortable with the interruption.

8. I Apologize for the Unscheduled Interruption

Example: I apologize for the unscheduled interruption. Is now a good time to go over the budget?”

Meaning: A formal and explicit apology for interrupting without prior notice, often used in professional contexts.

Usage: When interrupting someone’s time without a prearranged appointment or meeting.

9. Mind If I Chime In?

Example: Mind if I chime in? I have some thoughts on that topic.”

Meaning: A casual and polite way of asking permission to join a conversation or add your input.

Usage: Suitable for group discussions or meetings where you want to contribute without seeming rude.

10. May I Have a Moment of Your Time?

Example: May I have a moment of your time? I need your advice on something urgent.”

Meaning: A respectful request for someone’s attention, highlighting the temporary nature of the interruption.

Usage: Effective in both personal and professional contexts when you need someone’s focused attention briefly.

11. I Hate to Interrupt, but…

Example: I hate to interrupt, but I need your signature on this document.”

Meaning: Expresses reluctance to interrupt, softening the request that follows.

Usage: When you need to interrupt for a necessary reason and want to acknowledge the inconvenience.

12. Forgive My Interruption

Example: Forgive my interruption, could you help me understand this email from the client?”

Meaning: Asking for forgiveness as a way to acknowledge the interruption before proceeding with the question or request.

Usage: In situations where you’re seeking assistance or clarification and need to interrupt someone’s workflow.

13. Do You Have a Second?

Example: Do you have a second? I just need a quick word.”

Meaning: A casual way of asking for a very short amount of someone’s time, implying that the interruption will be brief.

Usage: For informal interruptions, especially when the matter is brief and straightforward.

14. If I May?

Example: If I may, I’d like to add something to our discussion on project timelines.”

Meaning: A polite and formal way of requesting permission to speak or contribute to a conversation.

Usage: Ideal in meetings or discussions where you wish to interject with respect and politeness.

15. At Your Convenience

Example: At your convenience, could we discuss the feedback on my work?”

Meaning: Indicates that the request or discussion can wait until it suits the other person’s schedule, minimizing the imposition.

Usage: When the matter is not urgent, showing respect for the other person’s time and priorities.

16. Just a Quick Question

Example: Just a quick question, do you know where the meeting has been relocated to?”

Meaning: Prefacing a request or interruption with this phrase implies that the interaction will be brief and to the point.

Usage: For instances where the interruption is minor and can be addressed quickly

16 Other Ways to Say Sorry to Bother You Infographic

When to Use Different Expressions for Polite Interruptions

Selecting the right alternative expression instead of “sorry to bother you” largely hinges on the situation, the relationship with the person being addressed, and the level of formality or informality desired.

Here are some guidelines for selecting the most suitable phrase for various scenarios:

Formal Settings

For professional or formal settings where a respectful and polite tone is paramount, expressions like “Pardon the Interruption” or “I Apologize for the Unscheduled Interruption” convey the necessary respect and acknowledgment of the potential disruption. These phrases are particularly suited to workplace interactions or when addressing someone of higher status or authority.

Informal Settings

In more casual or informal scenarios, where a lighter touch is appropriate, opting for “Do You Have a Second?” or “Mind If I Chime In?” can introduce your interjection without weighing down the conversation with undue formality.

Seeking Clarification

When the situation involves seeking clarification, contributing to a discussion, or redirecting the conversation, “Excuse My Intrusion” or “If I May?” serve well to interject with courtesy. They allow the speaker to signal their awareness of the interruption while still asserting the importance of their input or inquiry.

Minimize the Imposition

Lastly, when acknowledging the value of the listener’s time or seeking to minimize the imposition, phrases like “At Your Convenience” or “Hope I’m Not Disturbing” show a high degree of consideration for the listener’s engagement and priorities. These alternatives suggest that the speaker is mindful of the listener’s potential busyness or preoccupation and is willing to defer to their schedule or current focus.


Choosing the right phrase to politely interrupt or ask for someone’s time is an art that reflects both respect and consideration for the person you are addressing.

Whether in a professional setting, a casual chat, or when you need urgent attention, subtleties of language can greatly affect the tone and perception of your interruption.

For those interested in diving deeper into the nuances of polite conversation and effective communication, resources like the Modern Language Association (MLA) website or the etiquette sections of sites like Emily Post offer extensive guides and articles.

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