You’ve taken a long time to reply to a work email and you want to apologize in a professional manner. But is the phrase sorry for the delay a suitable option?
In this article, we’ll address this question. Moreover, we’ll show you 10 additional ways to professionally apologize in an email.
Is It Correct to Say “Sorry for the Delay”?
It is perfectly correct to say sorry for the delay in an email if you have taken a longer time than expected to respond to your boss, a colleague, or a client. This phrase is neither particularly formal nor informal.
Therefore, you can use sorry for the delay in some work settings. However, there are certainly some more formal options available.
Nevertheless, let’s see two email examples making use of this phrase:
Sorry for the delay in getting this back to you.
I hope you will find these suggestions helpful.
As a slightly more formal variation, you could rewrite sorry for the delay as sorry for the delayed response like so:
Dear Mr. Bonnet,
Sorry for the delayed response, but I can confirm that our fees are inclusive of all consultation hours.
Although sorry for the delay is a correct phrase commonly used to apologize when you have kept someone waiting, it may come across as just a touch too casual in some business or formal settings.
Moreover, it may begin to feel standardized due to overuse.
Therefore, you can use one or more of the phrases from our list below to mix up your language and keep your professional emails diverse.
10 Alternative Ways to Say “Sorry for the Delay”
Below, you’ll find 10 examples of how to apologize for a delay professionally:
- Apologies for the delayed response
- Sorry for the late reply
- Please excuse me for not responding sooner
- So sorry for not replying sooner
- Sorry to only get back to you now
- My apologies for the delay
- Thank you for your patience
- I apologize for keeping you waiting
- I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner
- I apologize for the slow response
1. Apologies for the Delayed Response
Apologies for the delayed response is a slightly more formal synonym for sorry for the delay. Therefore, you can use this phrase in an email to a client when you have taken some time to reply.
If you are responding to a query or complaint, for example, it may take you a moment to investigate the matter.
Nonetheless, it is still good practice to apologize for the delay so that the customer does not feel like their time isn’t valued.
Have a look at how we’ve used this phrase in an email sample:
Dear Miss Turk,
Apologies for the delayed response.
I have considered your query carefully, and I believe we can resolve the issue by following the steps set out below.
2. Sorry for the Late Reply
Sorry for the late reply comes across as a touch more casual than the original phrase. Therefore, this is a good option when you’re speaking to a colleague.
This phrase isn’t informal per se, but it uses more plain phrasing, which is ideal in a busy office setting. After all, it’s better to get to the point when you are communicating with your peers.
Nevertheless, this phrase is suitable for an email to a colleague that you don’t know very well, as it politely apologizes for the delay while being, overall, tonally neutral.
See the example below:
Sorry for the late reply; I’ve been stuck in a meeting for most of the afternoon.
I’ll get those files to you shortly.
3. So Sorry for Not Replying Sooner
Another way to say sorry for the delay is so sorry for not replying sooner. The use of “so sorry” in this phrase makes it come across as rather friendly and sincere.
Therefore, it’s an appropriate choice if you are replying to a coworker that you don’t know very well.
If you are getting back to a colleague from another department, for instance, you can choose a phrase that is polite without being overly formal and stiff. This phrase makes clear that you are apologetic for your delay while maintaining an approachable tone.
So sorry for not replying sooner!
I have attached the memo for you to look at.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.
All the best,
4. Please Excuse Me for Not Responding Sooner
You can use the phrase please excuse me for not responding sooner in an email to your boss or someone higher up in the work hierarchy.
This phrase is formal and courteous, making it suitable for an exchange with a superior.
If you have been unable to respond to an email from your employer for whatever reason, it’s essential to acknowledge this delay when you manage to get back to them. Doing so is simply a sign of respect, as it shows that you do not take their time for granted.
Therefore, check out an email example that includes this phrase:
Dear Ms. Pearl,
Please excuse me for not responding sooner; I have been running an errand for Mr. Gyle.
I have attached the requested file below.
5. My Apologies for the Delay
My apologies for the delay is a direct synonym for sorry for the delay that you can use in an email to your employer.
Although it is very similar to the original phrase, replacing “sorry” with “my apologies” gives this phrase a slightly more formal tone.
Therefore, it works well if you work in a formal or corporate setting and want to be respectful in your emails to your boss.
Let’s see this phrase in an email sample:
Dear Mr. Marsh,
My apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
I have looked over each account as requested and can confirm that they are up to date.
6. Sorry to Only Get Back to You Now
You can say sorry to only get back to you now in an email to a colleague, regardless of the nature of your relationship.
This phrase is polite enough for a work email while maintaining a casual tone. Therefore, it may not suit an email to a client or superior, but it’s a safe choice when you’re speaking to an equal.
See how we’ve used it in a sample email:
Sorry to only get back to you now.
I have a few suggestions for the presentation for you to consider.
7. I Apologize for Keeping You Waiting
You can use the phrase I apologize for keeping you waiting instead of saying sorry for the delay in an email to a colleague.
This phrase is polite and professional, so it suits a message to a coworker from another department, for instance.
It may be too risky to use the phrase “keeping you waiting” in an email to your boss or a client. After all, it may sound as if you could have done more to get back to them promptly, and responding to customers or superiors should generally be a top priority.
A colleague, on the other hand, will know that you have limited time and resources in your day. Thus, they will understand that you can’t always reply immediately.
See how to use this phrase in an email example:
I apologize for keeping you waiting, but I have found the data you requested and attached it below.
8. I’m Sorry I Didn’t Get Back to You Sooner
Another way to apologize to a colleague if you have taken a while to reply is I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.
This phrase comes across as friendly and sincere, so you can use it in an email to a coworker with whom you have a fairly friendly dynamic.
After all, if you have a friendly rapport with a peer, you can generally do away with the formal phrasing in your emails and use more plain language.
I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner; it’s been a hectic day!
Here’s the memo you requested.
All the best,
9. Thank You for Your Patience
If you want to say sorry for the delay without saying “sorry,” you can simply acknowledge that you have kept the receiver waiting with the phrase thank you for your patience.
This is a polite phrase to include in an email to a customer if you are resolving their query or complaint. It may take some time to look into the matter at hand. Thus, it’s always good practice to thank the customer for waiting patiently while you investigate.
Check out the email example below:
Dear Miss Paige,
Thank you for your patience as we investigate this matter. I can see from your transaction history that this expenditure was fraudulent, and you will be refunded within 10 business days.
10. I Apologize for the Slow Response
I apologize for the slow response is a good option if you want to say sorry to a customer after being unable to respond more promptly.
This phrase is polite and acknowledges that you have been slow to respond for whatever reason. As this phrase indirectly admits fault for the delayed reply, you should only use it if things were truly out of your control.
After all, you don’t want the customer to think you failed to respond timeously by choice.
Check out the email sample below to see what we mean:
I apologize for the slow response, as we have been impacted by the recent power outages.
I have provided a detailed instruction manual for the product below.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries.