I heard someone saying "Don't be" in response to "I am sorry". I wonder whether it is correct. Some native speakers said it was a mistake, however, some said it was correct. Is saying "Don't be" correct?

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    It's perfectly normal in English to omit "predictably repeated" words, and in your context most naive speakers wouldn't bother echoing the previous speaker's last word when replying Don't be sorry. But this is entirely a matter of an idiomatically established stylistic choice - nothing to do with notions of "syntactically correct" or not. Dec 24 '20 at 14:27
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    @FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica "naive speakers" <g>! Dec 24 '20 at 14:50
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    @OldBrixtonian: Ooops! But obviously I meant the "natural and unaffected" sense, not "showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement". Dec 24 '20 at 14:54
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    @CharlesHudgins I assume you're American or similar, since "don't be" sounds perfectly mundane to me, and your suggested alternatives sound mildly of American lilt :-) In British English, "don't be" is entirely natural, and I suppose the reason it sounds theatrical is just that it's not idiomatic where you are.
    – Chris Down
    Dec 25 '20 at 16:33
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    @ChrisDown I am American. I should have noted that. You're probably right then. I've even heard that "no problem" can be considered rude by British English speakers who aren't familiar with Americans' strange ways. Dec 25 '20 at 18:35

It's correct.

It's a command telling the person who is sorry not to be sorry, generally because the speaker believes that person has nothing to be sorry for (in other words, the speaker believes that person has done nothing wrong).

  • I don't know whether supporting references are expected on ELL, but surely they're always of benefit. You haven't described the grammar involved (see FF's comment). Dec 24 '20 at 14:29
  • I'm honestly uncertain of the technical terminology for this construction to find references. That comment sums it up very well, though.
    – Ryan M
    Dec 24 '20 at 14:32
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    Here is an example from a Church bulletin: 'Afraid? Don't Be. You have ....' And one from a realtor: 'Concerned about parking? Dont be, you will get a garage ....' Dec 24 '20 at 16:22
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    This is a trivial question for native English speakers, so I don't think it requires references (I don't frequent this community, so I could be wrong). This seems to be a question about informal speech / writing in which case "Don't be" is completely fine. If it was referencing formal speech / writing references would make sense, but in that case you would want to avoid the contraction altogether. Dec 24 '20 at 23:00

I heard someone saying "Don't be" in response to "I am sorry". I wonder whether it is correct... Is saying "Don't be" correct?

Yes it is.

It simply means "Don't be sorry."


I am not a native speaker. But I think that it is correct.

Here, I quote from https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/easy-learning/be :

"The verb be is used as an auxiliary verb and it can also be used as a main verb. ... The verb be is irregular. It has eight different forms: be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been. The present simple and past simple tenses make more changes than those of other verbs."

So, since we can use 'be' as a main verb, I think we can pair it with "don't" in a sentence.

Example: Don't cry. Don't run. Similarly, Don't be.

  • 3
    There is no hint of not being (Don't be), but of not being sorry (Don't be as you said you are, sorry). Dec 25 '20 at 4:55

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