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The context of usage is the following. Someone causes inconvenience to others and wants to seem polite.

For example a development company will surround a piece of territory with a fence, start construction works there and want to declare "We're building a house here. Sorry for the inconvenience". The second part can be spelled in either of the two ways:

  1. Приносим извинения за доставленные неудобства. or
  2. Просим извинить за доставленные неудобства.

Option 1 to me sounds like "We've dumped our apologies in front of you, do whatever you want now." and option 2 sounds more like "We've asked for forgiveness, you decide whether you forgive us." So to me option 1 is not apologizing at all although it is typically used like 98% of the times.

Which one is actually more appropriate?

  • 2
    Both are established idiomatic formulas. I doubt that one or the other could be considered more appropriate. – Quassnoi Jun 28 '12 at 11:03
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I have a feeling that "Приносим извинения" is more formal way of talking (which I think is more suitable in case of development company) and "Просим извинить" is more personal.

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2

Do you really want them to decide whether they forgive you and send you a response?

I think, no. What you want is to just inform them that you acknowledge your guilt. In that case, just use "приносим извинения".

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2

I have never heard or seen "просим извинить". On the opposite, "приносим извинения" is almost a bureaucratic cliché by now. It is seen in all kinds of written signs in public institutions.

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  • That's what bothers me. My goal is not to mimic a bureaucratic cliché. – sharptooth Jun 28 '12 at 12:09
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    And what exactly is your goal? – Olga Jun 28 '12 at 13:01
  • In the situation with the building company bureaucratic style is the most appropriate. Perhaps you could add something like "Спасибо за понимание" = Thanks for your understanding. That would really make a very good impression. – Olga Jun 28 '12 at 13:03
  • My goal is to actually be polite, not to try to seem polite. – sharptooth Jun 28 '12 at 13:12
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    Sorry, I cannot help you with that. It's not exactly a question about the Russian language, it's a question about marketing, or HR, or something similar, I guess. I can only say that, in my opinion, "Приносим извинения за доставленные неудобства" is a very good translation for "Sorry for the inconvenience". – Olga Jun 28 '12 at 17:29
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Приносим извинения за доставленные неудобства.

Can be thought of as dropping the letter into the mailbox and forgetting about it. This is a passive form of saying "yup. i screwed up. move on."

Просим извинить за доставленные неудобства.

Can be thought of as delivering the letter to someone and waiting for their signature. In this case you are more active in seeking forgiveness. You are also actively asking them to take an action (forgive you)

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I guess I have figured out what feels wrong with "просим извинить". "Извинения" is not something that you ask for, it is something that you give. If you want to ask for something, it would rather be "прощение", i.e. "Прошу прощения".

Also, it is believed that you choose "приносить извинения" when you are about to break bad and you choose "просить прощения" when you have already misbehaved or caused trouble.

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