What would an English native speaker say in the following situation?

tulipflower

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Oh, I’m very sorry. How terrible!

What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

Situation 1: You are applying for a job in a company. You go into the office to turn in your application form to the manager. You talk to the manager for a few minutes. When you move to give the manager your form, you accidentally knock over a vase on the desk and spill water over a pile of papers.


a) Oh, I’m very sorry. How terrible! All your papers are wet now.

b) Oh, I’m sorry.
c) Oh, I’m so sorry! Where can I get some paper towels to clean this up?

Reference: Hudson, T., Detmer, E. and Brown, J.D. 1995: Developing prototypic measures of cross-cultural pragmatics. Technical Report 7. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center








 
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andrewg927

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

Situation 1:


a) I'm terribly sorry (no need to say all of your papers are wet now because it is obvious)

b) I’m sorry.
c) I’m so sorry! Let me help you clean up.

Whatever you say, most likely you will not get the job because of your clumsiness.

Situation 2:

a) I’m sorry. I hope it didn't break.
b) Oops! I’m sorry.
c) Oh, I’m sorry. I’m glad it didn’t break.


Situation 3:

Just so you know, it is not customary for co-workers to lend their personal computers.

a) I have a confession. Last weekend I
accidentally erased some information on your computer. I am really sorry. Do you happen to have a backup copy?

b) I’ve got bad news. I accidentally erased some stuff on your hard drive. I’m truly sorry. Do you have a back-up copy?

c) I’m terribly sorry. I accidentally deleted some information on your computer.


 

tulipflower

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

Thank you so much for the reply. I'm really sorry bothering you with my questions. You haven't specified which choices are the best in situations 2 and 3? Do you mean in situations 2 and 3, choice (a) is the best answer? I see you've just made some modifications.
 

tulipflower

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

In situation 1, why choice 'c' can't be the answer?

Situation 1:


a) I'm terribly sorry (no need to say all of your papers are wet now because it is obvious)

b) I’m sorry.
c) I’m so sorry! Let me help you clean up.

Whatever you say, most likely you will not get the job because of your clumsiness.

Situation 2:

a) I’m sorry. I hope it didn't break.
b) Oops! I’m sorry.
c) Oh, I’m sorry. I’m glad it didn’t break.


Situation 3:

Just so you know, it is not customary for co-workers to lend their personal computers.

a) I have a confession. Last weekend I
accidentally erased some information on your computer. I am really sorry. Do you happen to have a backup copy?

b) I’ve got bad news. I accidentally erased some stuff on your hard drive. I’m truly sorry. Do you have a back-up copy?

c) I’m terribly sorry. I accidentally deleted some information on your computer.


 

andrewg927

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

Thank you so much for the reply. I'm really sorry bothering you with my questions. You haven't specified which choices are the best in situations 2 and 3? Do you mean in situations 2 and 3, choice (a) is the best answer? I see you've just made some modifications.

For 2 and 3, I personally would choose b. But you need to understand that everyone is different. It is difficult to say what is the best way to say certain things because there are many ways to express the same things.
 

andrewg927

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

In situation 1, why choice 'c' can't be the answer?

Yes, it certainly can. Again, there are many different ways to express the same idea.
 

tulipflower

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

For 2 and 3, I personally would choose b. But you need to understand that everyone is different. It is difficult to say what is the best way to say certain things because there are many ways to express the same things.

Thanks again for the reply. You are right. There are different ways to say the same idea depending on the age, gender and social status of the interlocutors. I would like to teach general strategies English speakers usually use to apologize and request in different situations depending on the power of the interlocutors, disposition and the severity of the offense in case of apology. That's why I would like to know what different people say in the same situation. This way I can know about the most common strategies used by the speakers.
So the answers will be of great help to me even if they are different.
 

GoesStation

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Re: What would an English native speaker say in the following situations?

You might get better responses if you ask "Which sentence(s) would be natural for a native English speaker in the following situations?" As written, the reader may think you're looking for a single response.
 
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