I understand that "intrude" is used in situations in which you are going to ask somebody for their attention or commitment, and "impose (on)" is often used when you are going to ask somebody to do something for you.

Now, which one is used here to show politeness and not wanting to bother others with your presence?

We're gathering with some friends at 8:30. do you want to come too?

Thanks, but I don't want to ____.

I feel like "intrude" is a better fit, but I have heard "impose" for such a situation from different people.

  • 1
    'Intrude' doesn't mean 'ask somebody for their attention', it means 'go into a place where you have no right to be' or 'join a group of people who don't want you there'. Aug 15, 2021 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


Both answers could be correct, as long as you're allowed to use the bare "impose" without "on + [object]". If this is a test question and you're required to use "on", then "impose" is impossible.

"I don't want to intrude" suggests I wouldn't really be welcome, so I don't want to come.

"I don't want to impose" literally means "I don't want to ask you to do that", but in this context, it would usually mean, "I want to come, but I'm being polite by pretending to say no until you to invite me again." It feels passive-aggressive.

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