difference between excuse me and pardon me

  • Swagga

    New Member
    English and United States
    There's really no difference, I guess, I tend to use "pardon me" when Im interrupting a conversation or something like that but "excuse me" if someone is in my way and I need to get through. But if you switched those it wouldn't make any difference really. They're virtually the same thing coloqually.
     

    LaReinita

    Senior Member
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    There's really no difference, I guess, I tend to use "pardon me" when Im interrupting a conversation or something like that but "excuse me" if them is in my way and I need to get through. But if you switched those it wouldn't make any difference really. They're virtually the same thing coloqually.
    I agree completely, however, "pardon me" is slightly more formal, but they can be used interchangeably.

    Also, I tend to use "excuse me" when I'm approaching a stranger from which whom I need help or when I haven't heard something and I would like them to repeat what they have said, but as Swagga already said, they can be used equally.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Can I say "Excuse me for one minute/interrupting"? What's the differences between "excuse me" and "Pardon me"? Thanks!
    In American English, "Excuse me!" occurs more often than "Pardon me!" I have noticed another difference between "Excuse me!" and "Pardon me!" which I find interesting: If you commit a faux pas such as bumping into a person while passing him on the sidewalk and fail to say "Excuse me!" or "Pardon me!" or "Pardon!" that person might remark sarcastically "Excuse you!" No American in such a situation, in my experience, ever shows sarcasm by saying "Pardon you!"
     

    LaReinita

    Senior Member
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    In American English, "Excuse me!" occurs more often than "Pardon me!" I have noticed another difference between "Excuse me!" and "Pardon me!" which I find interesting: If you commit a faux pas such as bumping into a person while passing him on the sidewalk and fail to say "Excuse me!" or "Pardon me!" or "Pardon!" that person might remark sarcastically "Excuse you!" No American in such a situation, in my experience, ever shows sarcasm by saying "Pardon you!"
    I use "pardon me" a lot; however, I'm sure that is it not so commonly used. I have to agree completely with mplsray's comment that I have highlighted in red.
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi all,

    I think they may be used interchangeably.

    Another difference in AE usage derives from the fact that comedian Steve Martin often said, "Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me". Sometimes I hear people imitate his delivery.
     

    wordsmith jones

    New Member
    English
    The difference is a temporal in nature. There is a marked distinction between an excuse and a pardon. You say "excuse me" for something you are about to do and "pardon me" for something you have already done. In common usage they are often used interchangably but that is technically incorrect.
     

    mystic33

    Member
    French (France)
    What are you supposed to say if you (let's say) burp in public? I'd say "pardon me" but I'm wondering would "excuse me" or "sorry" be correct?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    What are you supposed to say if you (let's say) burp in public? I'd say "pardon me" but I'm wondering would "excuse me" or "sorry" be correct?
    Of the two, I'd choose "excuse me": I never say "pardon me". But actually I'm more likely to say "oops" or "sorry" (or both). Or to ignore the burp....
    The difference is a temporal in nature. There is a marked distinction between an excuse and a pardon. You say "excuse me" for something you are about to do and "pardon me" for something you have already done. In common usage they are often used interchangably but that is technically incorrect.
    Well, you may be on to something as regards the way people who use both distinguish between them, wordsmith jones (though I see that earlier posters see them as interchangeable). I wouldn't know, because, as I say above, I never use "pardon me" - and it's also been a long time since I last heard it. That said, I think it's extremely unlikely that one usage is 'technically correct' and one 'technically incorrect': correctness is a matter of usage after all:).

    PS: Welcome to the forums!
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, you may be on to something .... I wouldn't know, because, as I say above, I never use "pardon me" ...
    I use it occasionally, but only when I've been rudely or consistently interrupted: Pardon me, was I speaking? Delivered with an arched eyebrow, of course. :)
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think there are considerable differences between AE and BE uses here. I base this mostly on novels and films. For instance in Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One, an Englishman goes to arrange a funeral at Whispering Glades Memorial Park, and the conversation goes something like this - I'm sorry, I haven't a copy to hand:

    American Receptionist: Can I help you?
    Englishman: I've come to arrange a funeral.
    Receptionist: Is it for yourself?
    Englishman: No, it isn't. Why? Do I look moribund?
    Receptionist: Pardon me.

    No English person I know would say Pardon me under these circumstances. If they were unfamiliar with a word, they'd be more likely to ask what the person meant.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If I burped I would probably say "Excuse me", though my mother would probably have said "Pardon me."

    If I didn't catch what the other person had said, I might say "I beg your pardon?" or just "Pardon?" I would not say "Pardon me" and I would be surprised if one of my compatriots were to say it in this situation.

    I think my use of "Pardon me" is limited to sarcasm/irony: "Well pardon me for being disgusted by it!"
     
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    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    If I burped I would probably say "Excuse me", though my mother would probably have said "Pardon me."
    Yes, I think this is a question of linguistic conventions changing over time. Evelyn Waugh was an English writer who died in the mid-1960s. He was writing what he believed an American would say at that time.

    I think that today we are far more likely to hear "excuse me" than "pardon me" in American English.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I think this is a question of linguistic conventions changing over time. Evelyn Waugh was an English writer who died in the mid-1960s. He was writing what he believed an American would say at that time.

    I think that today we are far more likely to hear "excuse me" than "pardon me" in American English.
    I think Waugh was relaying the linguistic conventions he had met in America to an English audience. I wasn't sure, Nunty, if you were talking of what people would say when they belched in public, or when someone else used a word they didn't know.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    In general, I hear "pardon me" from American mouths far less frequently these days than a decade or two ago. They seem to be saying "excuse me" in the same situations.

    (Disclaimer: I haven't lived in the US in almost 30 years. The Americans I hear these days are tourists, social service/humanitarian volunteers who are here for a short term, or people who have lived outside the US for a few years. I also hear Americans on TV shows and in movies. "Living language" may be different. I'll stop talking now.)
     

    MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    wordsmith jones:"The difference is temporal in nature. There is a marked distinction between an excuse and a pardon. You say "excuse me" for something you are about to do and "pardon me" for something you have already done. In common usage they are often used interchangably but that is technically incorrect."
    :tick::tick::tick:
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    When I was a student (all those years ago) I spent my summer in Boston, working in a hospital research lab. One day my mentor said something I did not hear clearly. The conversation then went:
    Me: Pardon?
    Him: Excuse me?
    Me: Pardon?
    Him: Excuse me?
    Me: I beg your pardon?
    Him: Sorry, excuse me?

    About then we both realised that we were saying the same thing in two different languages.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Kate Fox, wrote, in Watching the English (the whole paragraph is at the link)
    The word [pardon] is the most notorious pet hate of the upper and upper-middle classes. Jilly Cooper recalls overhearing her son telling a friend 'Mommy says that “pardon” is a much worse word than “f***”'.
    While that was mainly with regard to using it as a short form of "I beg your pardon could you repeat what you just said because I didn't hear it", I also recall my mother warning me away from "pardon" on its own and encouraging the use of "I beg your pardon", for example, when burps were audible. I have a feeling I didn't hear "Pardon me" until I came to N. America.

    Still on topic ( :eek: ) the substitution (above) of belch for burp triggered my looking up the only relevant thread only to find that it became a big (hidden) discussion of the suitability of "Pardon me" vs. "Excuse me"!
     

    pritchard14

    New Member
    english
    I was taught in the 50's that 'pardon me' was used if you do something or to get someones attention. Excuse me was used if you are leaving. [ex: Leaving the table, leaving someone, leaving the conversation, etc.
     

    siloxr

    Member
    English (USA-Southeast)
    On the point of using "pardon me" or "excuse me" because a person did not hear something that was said: I've mostly heard that in situations where the person heard and understood exactly what was said, but used it as an expression of incredulity, shock, anger, and the like--something similar to "I know you didn't just say that."
    Example:
    Bob: Tom, your mother smells of elderberries!
    Tom: Pardon me?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Welcome to the forum pritchard!

    It would be interesting to know whether you speak British or American English. I was brought up in the UK in the 40's. "Pardon me for..", "Pardon me!" and "Pardon!" were never used and were actually considered vulgar, or 'common'. Posts #9 and #10 reflect my ideas of how they might be used. I would have to be very annoyed before using "Pardon me" facetiously, or should that be sarcastically. The last time I might have considered using' Pardon me .." was in a London theatre when the woman in front of me had carefully arranged her very long hair so that it hung down the outside back of her seat. Victorian theatre seats were designed for people with very short legs. Every time I moved a fraction, my knees interfered with her darned hair. When she started complaining, I might have said " Oh dearie me! Please pardon me for existing!"

    It's funny about 'belching'. Nobody respectable ever did it in my youth, same as nobody ever farted in public. However did we manage that? :D I didn't know the word 'burp' until I came into contact with Americans.

    Hermione
     

    Atky90

    New Member
    English
    If you burp, you say pardon me. If you trump/break wind, you say excuse me. If you don't hear someone, you say pardon, or sorry I didn't hear you. If you need to interupt someone you say, excuse me, as you would if you needed to get past someone etc. Thanks for your time.
     
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