Why doesn’t anyone say “I beg your pardon” anymore? It is such an elegant phrase. Or “Pardon me”. So much better than “Excuse me” or the ubiquitous “I’m sorry.” or worse, “sorry”. I suppose there has been misuse of the phrase by some, inferring some hostility or negativity when uttering “I beg your pardon”, almost threatening. But this is wrong and should not remove this great phrase from our lexicon. Certainly no cause for us to use “I’m sorry” exclusively. I must hear that 5 times a day.
Granted, it is better to hear “I’m sorry” than not. I can’t bear when someone trangresses your civility and waltzes on past as if you were a stop sign. But all this, I’m sorry-ing is a bit taxing. I usually respond with, “Oh, don’t be.” or “It’s quite alright” (when I’m feeling a little British). And yes, I admit I am a frequent abuser of “I’m sorry.” But I vow from hence forth to commit to “I beg your pardon.” or “Pardon me”. The only problem then will be that many, I fear, will respond “huh?”.
“I beg your pardon
1. Please repeat what you just said. “Pardon me – what did you say your name was?”
2. I am sorry for what I just did. “Oh, I beg your pardon! I didn’t see your foot there!”
3. May I please have your attention? “Pardon me, does this train go to Oakland?”
4. I do not agree with what you just said. “Pardon me, but I think you’ve got it backwards.”
This means literally: I ask for your forgiveness – in other words, I am sorry.”