be sorry

Also found in: Idioms.


be sorry
1. sadness and disappointment

Regret and be sorry are both used to say that someone feels sadness or disappointment about something that has happened, or about something they have done. Regret is more formal than be sorry.

You can say that you regret something or are sorry about it.

I immediately regretted my decision.
Astrid was sorry about leaving abruptly.

You can also say that you regret or are sorry that something has happened.

Pisarev regretted that no real changes had occurred.
He was sorry he had agreed to stay.

You can also say that you regret doing something.

None of the women I spoke to regretted making this change.

Be Careful!
Don't say that you 'are sorry doing' something.

2. apologizing

When you are apologizing to someone for something that has happened, you can say that you are sorry about it.

I'm sorry about the mess – I'll clean up.

You can also report someone's apology by saying that they are sorry about something.

She was very sorry about all the trouble she'd caused.

Be Careful!
Don't say that you are 'sorry for' something.

In conversation, don't apologize by saying that you 'regret' something. Regret is only used in formal letters and announcements.

London Transport regrets any inconvenience caused by these delays.
3. giving bad news

When you are giving someone some bad news, you can begin by saying 'I'm sorry to tell you...'. In a formal letter, you say 'I regret to inform you...'.

I'm very sorry to tell you this, but she's dead.
I regret to inform you that your application has not been successful.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
The junior doctors will be sorry that H Jones has had an operation postponed twice.