Sorry

Sorry is the most used, abused, and misused word in the English language, with the possible exception of the infamous f-word.  In the US  “sorry” used much (much, much) more frequently than in Europe (or at least in Germany) as an all purpose word to get attention, express regret, when passing by people, when touching them, when almost touching them, etc.

Here are some examples for what I consider legitimate use of the word:

Even in a crowd like that you use sorry to push through, pic: http://www.flowingdata.com

Situation 1: You are at the supermarket and need to push your shopping cart by somebody else’s cart in the aisle.  Even if there is enough space to get by without touching the other person or his shopping cart you would never do that without saying “sorry” first.   And you don’t just mumble it, you say it out loud and wait for the other person to acknowledge you somehow, for example moving out of the way.  Most certainly the person will say “sorry” and move out of the way.

Situation 2:  you are in a hurry and need to get through a crowd fast.  You do not – ever – just push your way through.  It is considered extremely rude.  You are supposed to be polite, say “sorry” and you try and get around people, avoiding to touch anybody.  If you absolutely have to touch them you do so gingerly and say something a little stronger like “I am so very sorry”, or  “Excuse me, could you please let me pass, I am in a hurry”.

The whole pushing people around, bumping into them, stepping on their toes without as much as an “excuse me” is absolutely unthinkable here.  When in doubt, double up on the sorries, never leave them out.

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