From time to time, we will have to inconvenience our colleagues. But is it suitable to say sorry to bother you in a professional email?
We’ll discuss the appropriateness of this phrase below. Moreover, we’ll show you 10 alternative phrases that you can use when sorry to bother you starts to feel worn out.
Is It Correct to Say “Sorry to Bother You”?
The phrase sorry to bother you is perfectly correct.
You can use this phrase when you’re making a repeated or burdensome request to the receiver and you want to apologize for the inconvenience you have caused.
This phrase is suitably professional for an email to your colleagues or employer.
However, you may choose a slightly more formal alternative depending on the nature of your role, especially when reaching out to clients.
Below, we’ve drafted two email samples illustrating how you can use this phrase in practice.
Sorry to bother you, but I need a copy of that report we produced on Thursday.
Could you send it to me?
You can also use the phrase sorry for bothering you as a correct and suitable variation of sorry to bother you in work settings. Either phrase can be used interchangeably.
Sorry for bothering you at this time, but the accounting software still appears to have a glitch.
Could you look into this?
Although sorry to bother you is perfectly correct, this phrase is rather standardized.
Moreover, if you repeat it in every email, your apology may come across as insincere.
Therefore, you can use one or more of the alternative phrases from our list to mix up your language and avoid repetition in your work correspondence.
10 Alternative Ways to Say “Sorry to Bother You”
Below, you’ll find 10 examples of how to say sorry to bother you in an email:
- I apologize for interrupting your busy schedule
- Sorry to be a bother
- I hate to trouble you
- Apologies for the interruption
- Sorry to badger you about this
- I apologize for the repeated request
- I hate to be a burden
- Sorry to burden you with this
- Please pardon my interruption
- I don’t mean to be burdensome
1. I Apologize for Interrupting Your Busy Schedule
You can use the phrase I apologize for interrupting your busy schedule in a slightly more formal email to your boss or anyone higher up in your organization’s hierarchy.
This phrase comes across as polite and respectful but also shows some friendliness and character.
Therefore, this is an ideal phrase to use when you are making a request. After all, if you want the receiver to act in your favor, you had better maintain a positive tone!
Have a look at how we’ve used this phrase in an email example:
I apologize for interrupting your busy schedule with a further request.
However, I will need you to sign off on this training procedure for the summer apprenticeship.
2. Sorry to Be a Bother
Sorry to be a bother is a slightly more casual alternative that you can use when speaking to a colleague, regardless of the nature of your relationship.
This phrase is polite and sincere while also being short and to the point, which is ideal in a busy office setting.
After all, if you know your colleagues are very busy, plain and comprehensible phrasing is best.
Consider the example below:
Sorry to be a bother, but do you have the login details for the meeting portal?
3. I Hate to Trouble You
You can say I hate to trouble you instead of sorry to bother you in an email to a client.
In particular, this phrase shows regret when you are requesting a certain action from the receiving client.
Although this phrase is contrite, it manages to come across as rather charming if used correctly.
Therefore, this works well if you work in a corporate environment and want to form a strong rapport with your client base.
To see this phrase in action, check out the sample email below:
Dear Mr. Oswalt,
I hate to trouble you again, but I will need written confirmation that you would like to grant us access to your online account.
4. Apologies for the Interruption
When making a request to your employer, you can preemptively apologize for causing any inconvenience or disruption with the phrase apologies for the interruption.
This phrase is suitably formal for an email to a superior and shows that you respect the recipient’s time.
Therefore, let’s see an email sample that includes this phrase:
Dear Miss Carrion,
Apologies for the interruption, but you have an urgent message from Mr. Thorne that requires immediate attention.
5. Sorry to Badger You About This
Another way to say sorry to bother you is sorry to badger you about this.
You can use this phrase in an email to a colleague with whom you have a friendly dynamic.
To “badger” means to repeatedly ask someone to do something and essentially pester them into action.
Obviously, you know better than to pester someone at work, so this phrase is rather hyperbolic.
Nevertheless, it shows that you are aware of the fact that you have made repeated requests and are contrite for it.
However, it has a tongue-in-cheek and friendly tone as well.
Sorry to badger you about this, but I still haven’t found the registration notice I’ve been looking for.
Would you mind having a look in your filing system?
All the best,
6. I Apologize for the Repeated Request
I apologize for the repeated request is essentially a more formal variation of the phrase above.
Therefore, you can use this phrase when you have issued an important request to a client and have yet to receive a response.
It can feel daunting to send a second email to a client, but this is often inevitable if you cannot proceed with your work without a client’s cooperation.
Thus, let’s see this phrase in an email example:
Dear Mr. Samunyai,
I apologize for the repeated request, but I will need your employment details before I can finalize your profile on our database.
Please respond to the questionnaire below when you have time to do so.
7. I Hate to Be a Burden
You can use the phrase I hate to be a burden when you know you’re making an onerous request to a colleague you don’t know very well.
This phrase lets the receiver know that you are aware that you are asking a lot from them and that you are apologetic about this.
Thus, although your request may frustrate the receiver, they will at least know that you do not take their time and efforts for granted.
Please reissue these documents in PDF format.
I hate to be a burden, but the guidelines are very specific about the formatting requirements.
8. Sorry to Burden You With This
Sorry to burden you with this is a good professional way to say sorry to bother you at work.
You can use this phrase when speaking to an employee.
In particular, this phrase works well if you are giving them a responsibility that is outside the usual scope of their employment.
This phrase shows that you are aware that you’re making a request outside of the employee’s pay grade.
Moreover, it shows that their willingness to assist you is appreciated.
See the email sample below:
I have provided the address of the office I need you to visit below.
Sorry to burden you with this, but I greatly appreciate your willingness to help.
9. Please Pardon My Interruption
Please pardon my interruption is highly formal and polite.
Therefore, this phrase works well if you work in a formal setting, such as a public office.
You can use this phrase when issuing a request to a fellow professional in your industry.
It shows respect for their position and maintains a professional register to boot.
Therefore, let’s see it in a sample email:
Dear Ms. Acheampong,
Please pardon my interruption, but we have received an application that requires your department’s attention.
10. I Don’t Mean to Be Burdensome
When you’re issuing a request to a coworker you don’t know very well, perhaps because they work in a different department, you can use the tentative phrase I don’t mean to be burdensome.
You can use this phrase if you are concerned that you may be making an unreasonable request. It is a good way to test the waters and see how your colleague reacts.
I don’t mean to be burdensome, but is there any chance that you could forward your correspondence with the client for my reference?