Accept an apologY, but present apologiES?


I always hear:

b accept an apology[/b] (singular)
b make/present (my) apologies[/b] (plural)

Hmm… Is there any deep reason for that?
Do you think I can create the next my-own-Rule-number-N?
Or not?

No; please accept my apologies works too-- it actually gets more Google hits:

202,000 English pages for “accept my apology
418,000 English pages for “accept my apologies
31,600 English pages for “accept an apology
26,700 English pages for “accept apologies

Your alternatives sound a little uncommon to me, especially ‘present’, which I don’t recall hearing. However, Ms Google says:

345 English pages for “make my apology”.
12,400 English pages for “make my apologies
89,700 English pages for “make an apology
51,900 English pages for “make apologies

32 English pages for “present my apology
205 English pages for "present my apologies.
216 English pages for “present an apology
23,300 English pages for “present apologies

A bit inconclusive, I think. Perhaps we should try the plural more thoroughly:

597,000 English pages for “accept our apologies
192 English pages for “make our apologies
180 English pages for “present our apologies

Hmm. The only rule that appears to me is that accept collocates consistently more highly with apology/ies than the other verbs do.


Sorry, Mister Micawber, I tried to ask a right question but by a wrong way (‘unintelligibly’)

What I meant was that the plural form is (more often?) heard (by me, personally :)) when smb.begs (smb.'s) pardon (= ask to accept his/her/their apologiES), whereas
a singular one – when smb. accept (all those offered apologiES) (=accepts AN apology :slight_smile: ).
It’s strange for me, but I clearly hear that.

Anyway, thanks a lot for the statistics, it didn’t get in my head to ask Mr. Google for word-combinations.

(Actually “make my apology” and “present my apology” – what is usually said from the first person (when begging smb’s pardon) - are quite rare! :))


Your question wasn’t unintelligible, Tamara. This may just be another example of your getting lots of “local” input which may (or may not) be more generally valid. Every region within a country has a few of its own special language idiosyncrasies - no matter what country you’re in. :wink:

But, both Ms AND Mr Google tend to provide good indications of what is most generally valid. :smiley:


I’ve never in my life “presented” an apology. Like MM, I’d never heard that collocation before. Have you heard “offer an apology”?

Hi Tamara,

You hear:

and as I live in the same wild and untamed area of S E England, so do I.

If you make or accept an apology it is usually about you being sorry or hearing somebody else being sorry for one particular incident.

Making, accepting or for that matter sending apologies is a much more formal business and is often used in written accounts of meetings as in:

One of the members made her apologies and left as she had to attend another meeting. or

Miss Tavistock sends her apologies for not attending the meeting as she will be on holiday.

Putting it very simply the plural form covers something like sorry and all that!


Thank you, Alan. I’ve got the point.

Also, I understand that Mr. Google covers more ‘written English’ (even though many of us sometimes try to use ‘spoken forms’ when chatting informally).

Thanks, Amy, for your response.

No, never. It was just a (clumsy try of) joke. :slight_smile: