28

I was travelling on a crowded bus. Someone suddenly ran into me and touched me when the bus stopped suddenly. The man said sorry to me. I did not get angry because I could see there was an auto accident not far from the bus, and then I said this,

that's alright

Was it polite for me to say it? If not, what shall I say? Or are there any better expressions when someone ran into you but you are alright with it?

  • 13
    'That's alright' is perfectly fine in this situation and actually is one of the better responses you can give. – Mars Mar 8 '17 at 6:20
  • 1
    Not worth making this a full comment, but technically the correct written form would be two words, "all right". The contracted form "alright" is growing in use, and may well be considered correct itself, but as of today it's still considered incorrect - though as you can see from answers, you're not the only one to use it this way! – Werrf Mar 8 '17 at 16:34
35

It's fine as a response to an apology. However you should be careful not to use it if the accident is your fault (even if they apologize first) since, "It's all right," implies that you forgive the other person.

Other responses:

Think nothing of it.

Don't worry about it.

It's ok.

It's quite all right.

Also, there's an Australian expression, "No worries!" which I like to use even though I'm American.

Edit. Please review the comments, as there are many regional differences in the nuance of these expressions.

  • 7
    To add to the first paragraph, in some cases if the fault is unclear (or might be unclear to the other person, or to an outside observer, or... ) it's best just to reply to their apology with a quick apology of your own. – Tin Man Mar 7 '17 at 20:56
  • 28
    American here and I wasn't aware "no worries" is considered an Aussie expression. As far as I know, it's just as common over here. – ell Mar 7 '17 at 22:48
  • 11
    British here. If someone said "No problem" I would assume they were American. If they said "No worries" I would assume they were a hippie or drifter, or Australian. If someone said "That's quite alright" I would assume they were a traditional Brit. If someone said "Think nothing of it" immediately then I would think they were classy, or trying to be! It is more often used to mean "You're welcome". It might make more sense after an extended conversation/apology. But I do agree that "no worries" seems to have gained a wider usage during the past few decades, as a friendly casual response. – joeytwiddle Mar 8 '17 at 3:50
  • 11
    'Think nothing of it' would be a bit odd in this situation. – Mars Mar 8 '17 at 6:18
  • 4
    @anotherdave Edited. OP's best option might be to deliberately bump into someone, say they're sorry, and note the response ... although in places like New York City this might be unusually "colorful" :) – Andrew Mar 8 '17 at 17:12
5

That's all right.

It's pretty much ok and well accepted. Not if you are paranoid about being polite like me, in which case you would say

Please don't apologize, you couldn't help it.

You don't have to apologize, it's not your fault.

It's so sweet of you to apologize, but it wasn't your fault.

An addition, after considering the comments,

Don't worry about it, are you fine/allright?

  • 4
    Though note that the second and third responses are rather more formal than an "accidental contact on the bus" situation might warrant, and the last three can all come across as condescending or even passive-aggressive if you're not careful. "That's alright" is pretty much always safe. – Patrick Stevens Mar 8 '17 at 9:27
  • 2
    I agree with @PatrickStevens here - do not use any of those three suggestions in this situation or you may end up starting a fight. They are agonisingly over-formal and to deliver them without sounding like you're "taking the piss" would be very difficult. – ED-209 Mar 8 '17 at 12:36
  • 1
    These responses could all be very awkward for the poor person who accidentally bumped into you, if he was British anyway. No need to make a conversation out of it - no one* actually wants to talk to strangers on a bus! (*very few Brits do at any rate.) – AndyT Mar 8 '17 at 16:09
5

"That's alright" is a perfectly fine and polite response.

If you wanted a better one, then from a British English perspective when people accidentally contact each other in public, they both say "Sorry". A typical exchange would be:

Person A: "Sorry"

Person B: "Sorry"

and that's it. The sorrys aren't really apologies, they're just a reflex reaction. There's the classic test of Britishness: if you bump into a Brit, then they'll say "Sorry", even when it was clearly your fault.

So, a "better" response from you would have been to just say "sorry" back. But there was nothing wrong with what you said.

5

Assuming that you spoke with a sincere and not condescending or aloof tone, it is not rude at all.

Rude responses, usually exclaimed loudly, imply frustration, disgust, or irritation and include

Watch where you’re going! / Watch out! / Watch it!

You [pejorative, e.g., idiot, bumbler, oaf, fool]!

Excuse me!

Ugh!

Graceful responses convey understanding and include

That’s alright / It’s alright / Quite alright

It’s fine / You’re fine / You’re good / We’re good

No problem.

Sorry / Pardon me / Excuse me

Oops / Whoops

Responses along the lines of “No apology needed” or “Please don’t apologize” come off as overly formal for the context in your question. Using these or explicitly granting forgiveness is more appropriate for serious violations or mistakes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.