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I don't want to ____ your working [verb choice]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Silver, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Silver

    Silver Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Context and Question:

    Today I went to my favorite restaurant for dinner. I saw the girl who I talked to last time; she is a waitress there. I chose to sit at the corner because I didn’t want to talk to her; she was very busy. But suddenly she noticed my coming, she came to me and said:

    Girl-Hey Silver, why not say hello to me?

    Silver-I don’t want to _____ your working. (I don’t want to ___ you, because you are working).

    Which word can I use here?

    How I think:

    I don’t want to bother your working. (Seems fine, but to me bother means to trouble someone).

    I don’t want to trouble your working. (More severe than bother, it seems, but I am emphasizing).


    I don’t want to say hello to you because you are very busy with your works.

    May I hear your voice?

    Thanks a lot
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  2. Hoosier_Ham Member

    Indiana, United States
    English - United States
    "Bother" is often used in this context, even if it is expected that the listener is not truly bothered. I could say, "I don't want to bother you while you work," even if I expected that the listener would not be bothered.
  3. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    "Distract" would be more positive as "bother" can be interpreted ambiguously. ie. it would be OK to say:
    "I didn't want to bother you":thumbsup:
    but rude to say:
    "I couldn't be bothered." :thumbsdown:
    The latter is like saying you were too lazy or did not care.
  4. jmeasdf Member

    English - British
    I'd use "disturb".

    -I don't want to disturb you.

    or maybe "interrupt"


    I don't think working can be used as a noun like that.
  5. Silver

    Silver Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Thanks a lot, I don't want to use "bother", maybe it is a personal preference. But I will accept all your ideas. Thanks for the correction.
  6. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I'm afraid your sentence sounds unnatural to me, with its use of the possessive plus gerund; but even with my preference (the infinitive/noun: work) I would not use either bother or trouble. To me, these verbs do not work well with any other object than simply "you" (or "him", etc.). I would use another verb such as interrupt.
    "I don't want to interrupt your work." (or interrupt you)
    "I don't want to bother you." (but not "bother your work")
    I don't see how work can be "bothered" or "troubled".
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  7. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    This is a very strange thread. If one Googles the string "I don't want to bother you" or its many variants one gets millions of hits...

    A significant proportion of the ones I have looked at give approximataly the same meaning....


    "I don't want to bother you to continue with this thread." But, why is the meaning of this use of bother (bover) so unclear to so many posters?

    Am I living in my own cocoon? :)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    George, the difficulty is not with "bother" but with "bother your working" - which I can't imagine saying in any circumstances:(.

    Silver: in your situation, I might say "I don't want to stop you working" (NB not "your").
  9. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    It seems to me there are three constructions.

    (1) I don't want to ___ your working.

    As has already been mentioned, this construction is a bit odd, and no suitable verb comes to my mind. The only one even possible is hinder or impede, but that would sound very stilted.

    (2) I don't want to ___ your work.

    Here I completely agree with Matching Mole: interrupt is the best choice. However, this is a pretty formal-sounding sentence, and I don't think I can actually imagine myself saying it in real life.

    (3) I don't want to ___ you.

    This is probably the most common, and would be filled in by bother or (more formal, to me) disturb. Distract you from you work is also possible, though slightly formal as well.

    To be honest though, I'd probably say something like this:

    (4) You seem busy, and I didn't want to bother you.

    The first part of the sentence is important because it explains that by bother, you don't mean "annoy", but rather simply "distract". In fact, you could leave out the second clause entirely and just say You seem busy. The rest is implied.
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    (In truth, her comment would most likely be "Why did you not say hello to me?" If not that, it meant that.)

    The question is as much, if not more, about what is appropriate in this social context than it is about the grammar :)

    I'm tempted to ask if the waitress is part of the reason for this being Silver's favourite restaurant, but that would be too personal a question ... ... though possibly relevant.

    In this context, I would answer with an appropriate smile and some friendly greetings then:
    I didn't want to interrupt you when you're working.

    I would use "didn't" rather than "don't" .
    I'm explaining my reason for my action in the past, when I arrived, even if her question is apparently in the present.
  11. Silver

    Silver Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

    No, not really. Because we are celebrating Spring Festival and almost all the restaurant are closed. But yesterday I was surprised to figure out that the restaurant she's working in was still open. I went there. But before the Spring Festival, I went there with my friends many times.
  12. Silver

    Silver Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Thank you all very much.
  13. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    In writing - the words "you are" can be contracted to "you're".
    In speech - "you are" sounds the same as "your", which is the posessive of the second person pronoun "you".
    Because they sound alike learners can get them confused.

    I agree with Panjandrum that the negative of the verb "do" should be in the past tense:
    I didn't want to interrupt you because you're working.

    We can elide the conjunction ("because", "while" or "when"):

    I didn't want to interrupt you; you're working.

    But we can contract the sentence further by making the continuous verb (working) of the subordinate clause into the object noun of the main clause:

    I didn't want to interrupt your work.

    Note that "your" is used in this example, not "you're", because the meaning is:
    "the work (noun) which belongs to you"
    rather than:
    "the work (verb) which you are doing".

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