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If I want someone (in this case, a Professor) to do something for me that they don't need to do (in this case, a second opinion on another Professor's paper), can I ask whether I can "bother them for a second opinion"? The "for" would emphasize that I want the second opinion from the other person, more than "about". But is it proper English?

Google gives a number of results for "bother for", but as always in these kinds of questions, that's not proof of anything except that 94,000 other people may be doing it wrong.

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So are you asking a professor to get another professor to give the paper a 2nd opinion? Whether that's the case or not, I'd use "impose" instead of "bother" and phrase it like this, for example: "Professor Smith, if I may impose, would you please ask Professor Jones to give this paper a 2nd opinion?" – Kristina Lopez Apr 17 '13 at 17:51
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, it's grammatical, and would normally be a polite way to ask for something. However, it's difficult to say whether it would be appropriate for your purpose without knowing more about the situation.

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Thanks, Barrie! I'm fairly confident it's appropriate in the situation, I was just unsure whether "bother for" would work. – Pekka 웃 Apr 17 '13 at 17:54

Yes, this is quite correct, however be aware that the use of 'bother' in that sense is somewhat informal/colloquial:

to give trouble to; annoy; pester; worry: His baby sister bothered him for candy.

Is a quote given by Dictionary.com, so "bother x for y" wouldn't seem to be an issue, albeit you are implying that you understand it may be an annoyance, but would like whatever it is you are asking for. As a native English speaker, I would say that it is entirely polite and acceptable (in British English especially).


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In this usage, it parallels 'trouble someone for (something)'. The put-down by Jack Aubrey in the film Master and Commander ... is an example: He [Nelson] leaned across the table, he looked me straight in the eye, and he said " Aubrey... may I trouble you for the salt?" The version with trouble sounds old-fashioned rather than colloquial. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 17 '13 at 18:18

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