sorry for insisting / sorry to insist

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Mr Bones, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Hello, all. In a previous thread I wanted to apologize for my insistence on a certain topic. So, I started

    Sorry for insisting

    But later I wondered if I could've said

    Sorry to insist

    What could you tell me about these two possibilities?

    Thanks a lot, Mr Bones.
  2. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Sorry for insisting" means you realize now that you shouldn't have insisted, and you regret it. It is an apologetic statement-- if you had it to do over again, you wouldn't insist.

    It can also mean "sorry to insist," which means you wish you didn't have to insist, but you do. It's usually followed by the word "but."

    The reason "sorry for insisting" is usually a rueful and regretful (and not just polite) expression, is that it refers to an act of insisting in the past. When you are sorry for something you did, you generally mean you feel you really shouldn't have done it.

    When you're sorry for something you're doing, regret doesn't make much sense-- it's either disingenuous, or you're being gracious, using the language of apology in a contrary-to-fact manner, as is often done in courteous expressions.

    The reason "sorry for insisting" is sometimes mere politeness is that it can be an elliptic way of saying "sorry that I am having to insist, but..." instead of "sorry that I did that insisting."

    The difference between polite "regret" and the genuine article is mostly conveyed by tone.
  3. Mr Bones

    Mr Bones Senior Member

    España - Español
    Thanks Fox, great explanation, as usual. Bones.
  4. hamlet Senior Member

    Français (FR)
    So you wouldn't say "Sorry to be late" for instance?
  5. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    I've heard "Sorry I'm late," "sorry I was late," "I'm sorry I'm /I was late."

    Sorry to be late sounds a bit weird to me.
  6. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I think the point is that you are often only partially to blame for being late, but you could easily avoid insisting.

    In BE we often say sorry to be late or sorry for being late, when we have kept people waiting. I think the meanings are closer than sorry to insist and sorry for insisting.

    Sorry to insist means you realize you are insisting and apologize, but probably feel that, for some over-riding reason, the insistence is justified.

    Sorry for insisting probably refers to a past moment when you insisted, and for which you are apologizing; I suppose it could also just be used to mean sorry to insist.

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