Can "I'm sorry if you think so" be used in the context where someone is looking down on me or expressing that they don't have a good opinion of me. Like, "I think your recent work is not good" "I'm sorry if you think so"

Does this sound natural to you? Or what should I say when someone is expressing disapproval of me?


1 Answer 1


Apart from the wrong choice of word, yes, that's appropriate and natural.

The thing is, you're not sorry if they think so. You know they think so, given they just said so, which means the conditional isn't appropriate. You are sorry that they think so.

It's completely natural, and can come across as rebellious, care-free, resentful, or passive aggressive, depending on tone. Probably other ways it can come across, too. Mostly it's a non-apology, a way of having the form of an apology without actually apologising. It can be otherwise, but be cautious - even if meant as a sincere expression of regret, it may be taken badly.

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    "I'm sorry if you think that" (with 'if' and not 'that') is perfectly normal in British English. As you note, this type of utterance is often heard as a non-apology, or something not meant, but said for the sake of form. Apr 6, 2019 at 18:37
  • @MichaelHarvey: It's heard a lot, but my experience is that it's mostly used when a person hasn't categorically said they think that. My often overly-logical brain might be imposing logic where it doesn't exist, though.
    – SamBC
    Apr 6, 2019 at 18:59
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    If someone says to me "What you said just now is sexist", and I say "I'm sorry if (or that) you think that", I am pointedly not saying "I'm sorry for saying something sexist". Apr 6, 2019 at 19:52
  • @MichaelHarvey oh yes, I wasn't arguing with the non-apology part.
    – SamBC
    Apr 6, 2019 at 20:27
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    Perhaps the if is a hint that the criticism is insincere, and/or an invitation to correct your thinking. Apr 6, 2019 at 23:55

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