“Sorry to interrupt, but can I ask you something quickly?”

You need to ask your boss an important question, so you go to his office. He's typing something on the computer. Politely, you say this.

Sorry to interrupt, but can I ask you something quickly?

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Sorry to (do something), but (sentence)

When you want to do something that you think might annoy people, but you need to do it anyway, you say "Sorry to ___". For example:

Sorry to say this, but I don't think that's a very good idea.

Sorry to leave early, but I have to go and pick my son up from school.

If you want to be more formal, you say:

I'm sorry to interrupt, but may I ask you something quickly?

interrupt (someone)

To "interrupt" someone is to make them stop doing what they are doing. You can interrupt people while they are:

  • talking to someone (interrupt someone's conversation)
  • thinking about something (interrupt someone's train of thought)
  • writing something (interrupt someone while they're writing)
  • watching TV (interrupt someone's show)

You usually follow the word "interrupt" by telling who you're interrupting:

Sorry for interrupting you.

But you can also leave it on its own:

I hate to interrupt, but can I speak to you privately for a minute?

Can I ask you something?

When you need to ask someone a question that's important, complicated, or might make them upset, you first ask:

Can I ask you something?


Can I ask you a question?

Of course, this is already a question, so sometimes when you ask someone "Can I ask you a question?" they will respond:

You just did!

This is supposed to be a joke. Do you get the joke?