I heard someone telling "I beg your pardon."

What does it mean? Can I say it when asking somebody to repeat what she just said?

2 Answers 2


Pardon (as noun) means "the action of forgiving somebody for something"; beg means "to ask somebody for something especially in an anxious way because you want or need it very much."

An equivalent sentence would be "I ask you to forgive me." even if this would not imply any anxious way.

If you just want to ask somebody to repeat something, you say "Pardon?" since pardon (as exclamation) means "used to ask somebody to repeat something because you did not hear it or did not understand it."

[A] You're very quiet today.
[B] Pardon?
[A] I said you're very quiet today.

  • Is it means ones more?
    – anish
    Aug 22, 2013 at 11:39
  • If i want to hear the question or some thing from some one ones more.I have to use "I beg your pardon" or simply "pardon"?please clarify
    – anish
    Aug 22, 2013 at 11:41
  • If an interviewer is asking me a question and i didn't heard it correctly.Is it good to use "I beg your pardon"? to repeat the question
    – anish
    Aug 22, 2013 at 11:53
  • If you only say "I beg your pardon." the interviewer would not understand you didn't understand the question; probably, the interviewer would expect you to say something more, for example, "I beg your pardon, but I forgot I had an appointment. I need to go."
    – apaderno
    Aug 22, 2013 at 11:58
  • 3
    I don't quite agree, kiamlaluno. "Pardon" and the idiom "I beg your pardon" are equivalent in this context, i.e. both ask to repeat what just has being said. You can find this idiom in any dictionary.
    – Em1
    Aug 22, 2013 at 14:24

"I beg your pardon?" can indeed be used if you'd like the speaker to repeat what they just said.

It can also be used when the listener objects to what the speaker just said (e.g. if a pupil said something rude to a teacher), where the tone of voice would make it clear how the listener feels about what he/she has just heard.

Note that although this phrase is probably widely understood, its use may vary depending on region. Alternatives include "sorry?" or "excuse me?", or simply, "could you repeat that, please?".

  • 4
    Personally, I'd advise non-native speakers to avoid using this idiom completely. Because it's becoming increasingly "dated", I think when it does occur today it's often a somewhat facetious usage in contexts as per your second paragraph (taking strong or "mock" exception to something someone else just said). Aug 22, 2013 at 18:00
  • 2
    I believe Steve's answer here, along with FumbleFingers' subsequent comment, answer the question best. Yes, "I beg your pardon?" can be used as an idiom for, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you – could you repeat that?" However, I would recommend using one of the alternative expressions instead, for exactly the reasons @FumbleFingers has mentioned.
    – J.R.
    Aug 23, 2013 at 9:52

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