Is it grammatically correct to use "apologize" as a verb without the preposition "for"?

apologize: to make a formal defense in speech or writing.

"I apologize the event."

Wouldn't this mean that I'm defending the event?

"I apologize for the event."

Wouldn't this mean that I'm defending the event on it's behalf?

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    I was wrong: I apologize.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 17:48

4 Answers 4


The OED has only one citation, from Swift, showing the transitive use of apologize, which it describes as ‘obsolete’. That suggests that in modern English it is ungrammatical.

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    The other two were good answers, but this explains why it's not grammatically correct to use apologize as a transitive verb, i.e. why "I apologize the event" is wrong. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 18:00

Apologize is almost always (excluding some rare uses) an intransitive verb; however, with that said, you will often hear people (in the US) say things like, "I apologize [that] the event didn't go as planned." Technically it needs that as a conjunction, but there's a strong trend in the US toward omitting that when it's used conjunctively. Personally, I don't care for it, but you will hear (and read) that sometimes.

You cannot use that sentence as a complete sentence as is though. It needs a preposition (for/about/to)

  • Wouldn't that be written as "I apologise; the event didn't go as planned." though? I'm from Australia, though, so maybe it's different in the US. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 22:27
  • @AlbeyAmakiir Well, yes in fact you could write it that way. It also could be written as I've written it with that joining the two clauses. Either of those ways is proper. But many in the US leave out that when it is being used to join clauses, which is why I put that out there. As far as I'm concerned, proper English is proper English, no matter where you're from. Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 0:02
  • I mean, someone can say it, meaning the way I wrote it, but it sounds like it's the way you wrote it. It's an interpretation difference. I think it's more likely the interpretation that is wrong, as I have never encountered the use you describe. And English is very location/time dependent. Otherwise, Americans should start spelling colour properly. :P Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 1:43
  • @AlbeyAmakiir I wasn't referring to spelling. That's a different story. Even with spelling, we still understand each other. There's very little difference between American English and other dialects. It's only location dependent if you are speaking colloquially. Standard English is standard English. I've never not been able to understand any English speaker/writer from anywhere. As for the interpretation, I can tell you that the people who say that in the US have no clue that a semicolon is needed and would probably transcribe it as I have. It's often said without pause in one breath. Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:47
  • Whether the semicolon is thought of by the speaker is irrelevant. Most people don't seem to know how to use it [citation needed] in the first place. The semicolon doesn't necessarily indicate a pause for breath, either. In this case, it represents the meaning they intend, whether they realise it or not. Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 22:50

It shows up in modern Non-apology apologies:

Attorney and business ethics expert Lauren Bloom, author of The Art of the Apology, mentions the "if apology" as a favorite of politicians, with lines such as "I apologize if I offended anyone".

  • There's no difference (well very little at least), between saying I apologize to/for and I apologize if. If is being used conjunctively, similar to a prepositional phrase. It's a little different then what's being asked here. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 20:04
  • I would maintain that the verb is still being used intransitively. It is not that the 'if....' becomes the indirect object. 'If' is still a conjunction. But the indirect object is implied. e.g I apologise (to the court) if I offended anyone. It is not the presence of an IO but the manner of use of the verb which determines intransitivity. This is quite different to saying 'I apologise the event' That needs to be 'I apologise FOR the event'.
    – user52780
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 9:31

Most certainly it is incorrect 'to apologise an event'! 'Apologise' is an intransitive verb, and if there is one tendency I loathe it is the cavalier manner in which the intransitives of the English language are being bowdlerised into transitive form. Lawyers nowadays 'appeal' a decision of the court when hitherto they 'appealed against' such.

Passives become actives and vice versa. When you hear of someone 'interviewing for jobs' you are never sure whether they are the interviewers or the ones being interviewed.

All this is about as bad as the unrestrained use of nouns as verbs. 'Our athlete is expected to medal'. What bastardised English, if you can call it that!

  • Haha, thanks I like your points. I think its the tech age that has led to this confusion in the English language, things that were nouns are not verbs and vice versa. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 21:46
  • Combined with Barrie's answer, this answer becomes rather funny. "Apologise" used to be able to be used transitively. What makes one change worse than any other? :) Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 22:26

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