Pardon me/my asking

myriam_

New Member
Italian – Italy
Hello everyone,

I am writing an email in US English, and I want to be as polite as possible in expressing a doubt. I am not sure of which of the following (if any) is the correct form:
Pardon my asking: [question follow]
Pardon me asking: [question follow]

Thank you all!
 
  • Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    "Pardon my asking" is the correct form,
    but you will hear/read "pardon me asking", which occurs colloquially (eg. in some regional accents such as the Midlands of England).
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I would not use "pardon" at all, just as I would not say "pardon me" instead of "excuse me" or "I beg your pardon" if I accidently stepped on someone's foot. Beyond that, if your asking the question is somehow offensive, and in need of pardoning or excusal, then you probably should not ask the question at all, so it is odd that you begin with that phrase. What sort of question (note: we do not use "doubt" that way in English) are you asking? If you tell us that, we can help you find a polite way to phrase it.
     

    myriam_

    New Member
    Italian – Italy
    I would not use "pardon" at all, just as I would not say "pardon me" instead of "excuse me" or "I beg your pardon" if I accidently stepped on someone's foot. Beyond that, if your asking the question is somehow offensive, and in need of pardoning or excusal, then you probably should not ask the question at all, so it is odd that you begin with that phrase. What sort of question (note: we do not use "doubt" that way in English) are you asking? If you tell us that, we can help you find a polite way to phrase it.
    GreenWhiteBlue, thank you for your clarifications about the use of "pardon".
    My question is work-related: a supervisor made a bureaucratic decision that can have a consequence I don't think he has considered. So I wanted to address him as kindly as possible to express my point (the doubt I was referring to), meaning: "I hope you don't take it personally, but have you considered this aspect?"
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In that case, you are asking out of concern for him, and that certainly does not need an apology. You might then say "Because I would never want to see anyone in our organization troubled by unforeseen consequences, I hope you will not be offended if I note that [XYZ]. Of course, if you had already considered this possibility, then please disregard my mentioning it."
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I'm not fluent in any Latin languages, but my Portuguese friend uses "doubt" in a similar way. I've grown accustomed to it. It is not idiomatic English, however.
    You find it in Spanish as well. In addition, when a "yes or no" question is submitted for clarification to a curial Congregation at the Vatican, in ecclesiastical Latin it is called a dubium (plural = dubia), with the answer called a responsum ad dubium.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "I hope you don't take it personally, but have you considered this aspect?"
    From my perspective, "Pardon my asking" is a perfectly reasonable way to start your question.

    and I want to be as polite as possible in expressing a doubt
    And as far as my form of English is concerned, there's nothing wrong with that either. But you say you want to write in AE.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    You find it in Spanish as well. In addition, when a "yes or no" question is submitted for clarification to a curial Congregation at the Vatican, in ecclesiastical Latin it is called a dubium (plural = dubia), with the answer called a responsum ad dubium.
    Good information! Thank you.

    Hello everyone,

    I am writing an email in US English, and I want to be as polite as possible in expressing a doubt. I am not sure of which of the following (if any) is the correct form:
    Pardon my asking: [question follow]
    Pardon me asking: [question follow]

    Thank you all!
    You may want to ask some of your workmates. For me the "Pardon my asking" is quite all right but I have learned to accept that times have changed. :)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Pardon my asking:
    Pardon me asking:

    Both of these are perfectly good. There was, about 200 years ago a massive argument about which was "correct" according to Latin grammar rules. Most people have now realised that Latin rules don't apply to English, but you'll still find a few who have a strong preference for the "my" form.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    The argument consists (as I'm sure you know) of whether the -ing form is a noun or an adjective. I just happen to like saying "my" because it puts me one up on people who say "me". :D
     

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    ...I want to be as polite as possible in expressing a doubt.
    I have no problem understanding "expressing a doubt". I typed "expressing a doubt" into Google search and got hundreds of thousands of hits, which suggests it is a common idiom.

    Every student expresses a doubt when asking a teacher a question, and it's a bonus if a student can be polite as well but, like GreenWhiteBlue, my initial reaction to a question prefaced with a polite form (excuse me/pardon me for asking) is one of 'uh oh!', especially if, in speech, the stress is laid on the first word.
    eg
    "Pardon me for asking (uh oh!), but didn't I see you down the strip club last night?" (Ooooh!)
    Polite forms can be used for impolite, condescending effects:eek:.

    The less stress one lays on the polite phrase, the faster it is spoken, the more likely it is to actually be perceived/taken as polite; hence the contraction from "pardon me for asking" to "pardon me/my asking".

    The fact you chose short forms in your original post suggests you already know this, intuitively at least.
     
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