Imagine exactly how you’d reaction if your ceo fired you and also told you“Sorry, bro” as an apology. You’d be even more upset at the news, due to the fact that whatkind the apology is that?

Now imagine exactly how you’d react if a friend bumped right into you and said,“I beg her pardon”. You’d wonder why he spoke so formally, or possibly you’d thinkhe was teasing you.

You are watching: How do you say sorry in french

These two instances illustrate the prestige of utilizing theright apology because that the ideal situation, and also that’s what this article will helpyou do.

After analysis it, you’ll understand the best method to speak “sorry” in every instance you may encounter in France.

Table of Contents
The standard “I’m sorry”
The standard “Sorry”
The upgraded “I’m sorry”
The excessive “I’m sorry”
the public transport “Sorry”
pardon me in French: The attention-getting “Sorry”
The “It’s mine fault”
The officially “I’m sorry”
The harsh “I’m sorry”
The controversial “I’m sorry”
exactly how to make a detailed apology in French
just how to refer other definitions of “sorry” in French
False cognate alert!
How regularly do the French say “sorry”?
end to friend

The standard “I’m sorry”

The most basic way to say sorry in French is Je suis désolé, You can use the the same method you’d use “I’m sorry” in English. That way you deserve to say it come anyone: a friend, a household member, a stranger, a coworker, her boss, the Queen….

Here space some examples of cases when you can use “Jesuis désolé”:

You call your doctor to say you’re grounding in traffic and won’t be able to make that to her appointment on time.You yelled at her friend yesterday and also want come apologize. You’re talking to her neighbor, who notifies you that his finest friend died last week.

As you deserve to see from that last example, just like inEnglish, désolé(e) doesn’tjust signify an apology; the can also be provided to to express sadness that someone isexperiencing a poor feeling or situation.

Another thing about je suis désolé(e) is that itcan be adapted to any subject. Because that example: Nous sommes désolé s (We’resorry).

So, this is by far the most flexible “sorry” in the Frenchlanguage, which way if there’s just one the you remember native this list,this have to be it.

But over there is one point that doesn’t do this phrasecompletely effortless come use. Keep in mind the désolé is anadjective. This way it transforms depending on that is sorry. If you’re awoman, you need to add an “e” at the end: désolée. If you talkingabout a team of males or a mixed team of males and also females being sorry, youneed to add an “s” in ~ the end: désolés. And if you’re talking around agroup the females gift sorry, you have actually to add both one “e” and also an “s” to theend: désolées .


« Je suisdésolée, » climbed a dit, « j’ai mangé le dernier biscuit. » (“I’m sorry,” increased said, “I ate the lastcookie.”

Nous sommes désolésde t’avoir fait attendre. (We’re i m really sorry to have actually made you wait.)

The standard “Sorry”

There are cases when speak the totality phrase Jesuis désolé(e) may be also formal.

If you want to apologize come a friend, love one, or youngperson in general, you can just say “Désolé(e)” .

You can also use Désolé(e) with civilization you nothing knowif you satisfy them in casual context.

Remember that because désoléis one adjective, the will have to agree through the subject. You can see just how tomake désolé agree with the gender and also number of(a) subject(s) in the previous entry on this list.

Here are some examples:

Désolée, je ne peux pas venir te chercher à lagare. (Sorry, i can not come pick you up at the train station.)Désolés, nous serons en retard. (Sorry, we will certainly be late.)

The upgraded “I’m sorry”

Sometimes a straightforward “I’m sorry” feels a little bit too light. In thiscase, you can include one the the complying with adjectives before désolé(e):

Note that you can not say Je suis très désolé(e),because très means “a lot” and using it would imply there space differentdegrees come express how sorry girlfriend are. Most civilization consider the you’re eithersorry or friend aren’t. You also can’t to speak Jesuis si désolé(e), most likely for the very same reason.

The excessive “I’m sorry”

If you desire to present that you’re incredibly sorry, especially when it concerns something an extremely serious that you’ve done, or really bad news you’re reaction to, you can say Je suis navré(e).

Navré’setymology reflects itspower: it’s obtained from a native that supposed “to wound by piercing or cuttingsomeone”. Together it evolved, it involved mean things favor wounding, sorrow, andbroken-heartedness. So, navré(e) isn’t to be used lightly.

When i was finding out French, Ifell in love with this word – it’s one easy means to express extreme grief,regret, and also sympathy.

Keep in mental that, like désolé,navré has come agree v the sex and number of itssubject(s).

The public transfer “Sorry”


If you use the Paris Métro or go all over that’s overfilled inFrance, you’re tied to at some point bump into someone. Once this happens,simply say Pardon.

Pardon is simple to use because it doesn’t have toagree with a subject or object – it’s simply a stand-alone word.

But utilizing it deserve to be confusing for us native English-speakers.Many of us would think of speak Excusez-moi instead, because it’s so similar to “Excuse me”. Yet whilethis phrase is somewhat similar, yes a an essential difference.

The difference between Pardon and Excusez-moiis the Pardon implies you’re simply asking forgiveness, when Excusez-moioften (but no always) comes with the idea the needing to acquire someone’sattention. In English, we usage “Excuse me” this means at times, also – forexample, “Excuse me, yet I didn’t acquire a fork.” Since bumping into someone is a scenario where you particularly want tomake it clear the you didn’t perform it to get attention or be noticed, Pardonis the reasonable choice.

You can also use Pardon if youdon’t understand or hear what someone simply said. In this case, simplyraise the ton of her voice at the end so it sounds like a question.

Excuse me in French: The attention-getting “Sorry”

As I discussed in the ahead entry, Excusez-moi usually indicates that you apologizing but also need to it is in noticed. as such excusez-moi can be thought about the French pardon me. A perfect instance of when you’d use this is if she in a restaurant and would choose to salary the bill. You deserve to say Excusez-moi come politely acquire the waiter’s attention as they happen by your table.

Another very common means you’ll hear French people use Excusez-moi is as soon as they exit a overfilled train.In this case, lock opt for Excusez-moi over the ahead entry, Pardonbecause yes the idea the “Please notification that i’m now gaining off the trainand move out of mine way.”

Although needing come be noticed is often what Excusez-moiimplies, French people also often use it come apologize for callingthe wrong number:

Excusez-moi,je me suis trompé de numéro.

Sorry, I referred to as the not correct number.

In this case, it’s simply to to apologize – clearly theperson ~ above the other end of the heat is aware of their presence.

Note the while Excusez-moi is the most common method touse this phrase, friend can include whatever pronoun goes through the subject. Forexample, Excusez-nous. You could likewise technically adjust the imperativeto the tu form, in the unusual instance where she trying come ratherformally gain the fist of someone you recognize (normally just speak to out theirname or something).

The “It’s mine fault”

Je suis désolé(e) is a perfectly fine way to say “sorry” inFrench, yet French civilization rarely usage it on its own. Often, they describe what they’resorry for and also add some sort of justification.

Unfortunately, yes no formula for what to compose or speak after“sorry”, due to the fact that it obviously counts on the situation, however here’s an easy wayto do your expression sound an ext natural: admit that’s it’s her fault and takeresponsibility for what happened.

To perform that, you have the right to use “c’estma faute” (literally: it’s my fault).

Désolé, c’estma faute, j’aurais dû y penser.

Sorry, it’s mine fault, i should’ve believed of that.

Désolée, c’estma faute, je ferai fist la prochaine fois.

Sorry, it’s my fault, okay be an ext careful following time.

As you have the right to see, making use of c’est ma faute often involvesverb tenses that go beyond the present simple. But if you just beginning outwith French, nothing worry. The many important part of one apology is sincerelymeaning it, so even if did you do it only obtained Je suis désolé(e) down for now, aFrench human being will understand and still appreciate it.

The officially “I’m sorry”


Je suis désolé(e) is sufficient in most formalsituations. However there are situations when you may want to take formality come the nextlevel.

In such cases, you deserve to use “Veuillezm’excuser” (please expropriate my apologies) or “Jevous demande pardon” (I beg your pardon). You’ll often see this phrases inprofessional post or top top signs.

For example, it’s very common to watch the phrase Veuilleznous excuser to water la gêne occasionnée(literally: kindly excuse us for the difficulty/discomfort we can have caused;most often translated together “We apologize for the inconvenience”) had insigns or message indicating a train is delay or cancelled, or abuilding/transportation avoid is closed for construction or one more exceptionalor unanticipated reason. You can see a photo of one actual post like this, here.

As because that Je vous demande pardon, keep in mind that you can alsouse it as a question when you don’t know what someone just said. Considerit a (much) an ext formal version of pardon.

I’ve likewise seen Je vous demande pardon offered toemphasize the fact that a human being is yes, really sorry for something, kind of on thesame level as the “upgraded ‘I’m sorry’” phrases stated earlier. In thiscase, it would be offered with te. Because that example, if you’re a pan of romanticmovies or novels, you might just come throughout something prefer this:

Je car demandepardon. Je ne voulais pas car blesser. (Please forgive me. I didn’tmean to hurt you.)

Although you’ll most likely come throughout them at some point,remember the these phrases are rarely supplied in everyday talked French.

The harsh “I’m sorry”

There are phrases that always come before bad news.

Je suis au regret de vous informer is just one of them.

It literally way “I am at the remorse to inform you that…”,and is greatly used through companies when they desire to tell girlfriend they won’t hire youdespite your amazing CV or come tell friend they can’t help you.

Note that this is yes, really formal – a girlfriend won’t provide youbad news this way.

The controversial “I’m sorry”

If you go to France, you might hear world saying Je m’excuse. It’s relatively common here, probably since it takes a bit longer to say than Désolé(e) and also feels a little bit formal.

Some French world (and non-native speakers) view it thatway. However many aboriginal French-speakers find this phrase rude. The reason liesin its literal translation. Rather of asking someone else for forgiveness, Jem’excuse literally means that you excuse/forgive yourself.

The writer of this articlein Le Figaro points the end that the phrase might seem crude simply since there’stoo much emphasis on its literal translation, and not ~ above the speaker’s intention.

Others would say the it counts on how you usage Jem’excuse. Because that instance, J post inour comments ar that, for them, it depends on the speaker’s circumstances.If you’re making use of it in recommendation to something that you really would require someoneto forgive you for (like knocking castle over), that rude. Yet if it’s provided toapologize for any type of inconvenience due to circumstances that the speaker can’tcontrol or change (For example, Je m’excuse mais je ne parle pas bien français),it’s fine. I was taught this in my French classes in ~ school, together well.

Some French civilization feel this way, and also others (including, asI uncovered while researching this article, mine French husband), quiet think Jem’excuse is rude, nevertheless of the circumstances.

So for those that us finding out French, it’s finest to recognize thisphrase exists and understand what that means, yet not use it.

If someone states it to you, since so plenty of Frenchpeople it seems to be ~ to usage it without really thinking about its connotation, don’t beoffended…unless of food the human does seem come be exhilaration impolite.

How to do a thorough apology in French


The French don’t have tendency to like sophisticated apologies (more onthat a small later), but sometimes there’s an ext to be said than what this listcovers. Luckily, there are lots of websites that can help, with suggestions ofapologies for every sorts the occasions.

Personally, I choose this site, which suggests apologies you have the right to send as message messages. Most would work-related perfectly well in talked French, too, or in an informal letter, card, or email. The examples on this perform are shorter – sometimes even surprisingly quick – however could make great additions to a much longer apology.

If you’d like to discover some other, longer ways come say “sorry”in French, do an virtual search because that “modèle excuses sms” (“model apology textmessages”). I’ve suggested this search term because if you find for “modèleexcuses,” you’ll uncover examples of formal letters of apology. The course, thosecould be amazing if you should write one on behalf of her business, therefore ifthat’s what you’re looking for, now you know how to find for that, too.

How to express other meanings of “sorry” in French

Although there are numerous similarities between the variousways come say “sorry” in French and English, one thing to save in mind is the désolé and the cousins aren’t rather as faint (orversatile, relying on whom girlfriend ask) as “sorry” is in English.

For instance, one point that’s frequently tricky because that nativeEnglish speakers is translating a sentence choose “I’m i m really sorry to it is in leavingMarseilles” into French. In French, “sorry”isn’t typically linked with regret. If you desire to to express that,you’d usage a verb favor regretter. Inthis specific case, you would say Je regrette de devoir quitter Marseille(I’m i m really sorry I have to leave Marseille). Or you can simply refer the feel you’refeeling: Je suis triste de quitter Marseille (I’m sad to it is in leavingMarseille).

Another common method “sorry” is used in English, is to express one’s condolences. Although you have the right to say Je suis désolé(e) to express her sympathies, if you desire to be much more specific, it’s ideal to use:

Mes condoléances /(Toutes) Mes condoléances – mine condolences/My sincere condolences

In Canadian French, you’ll also see Mes sympathies.

Remember that you have the right to replace the pronoun to fit who’sexpressing their condolences, because that example, Toutes nos condoléances(Our thank you condolences).

To uncover out other methods to to express “sorry” in that is myriad ofdifferent English meanings and connotations, in French, have a look in ~ thishelpful list.

False cognate alert!

Saying “sorry” in French is reasonably straightforward. Butwhen it concerns apology-related nouns, you bound come run into some fauxamis.

The feminine native apologie has tendency to it is in a ax thatrefers come championing a cause and is usually provided in the phrase fairel’apologie de.

For example: Jefais toujours l’apologie du dessert. (Ialways champion the reason of dessert.)

The really translation for words “apology” is excuse.For English-speakers, this would suggest someone giving a factor why castle can’tdo something. But in French, it comes from an additional meaning, related to ourphrase “Excuse me”. Une excuse is exactly how you say “an apology” in Frenchmost of the time.

Présenter ses excuses or demanderpardon room the most typical ways to say “apologize” in French. because that example: La star a présenté sesexcuses auprès de ses fans. (The star apologized to her fans).

You can find some sports and added ways to say“apologize” in French, here.

How regularly do the French to speak “sorry”?


With at least fourteen various ways to say sorry, you maythink the French room a very apologetic people. In fact, the varieties of“sorry”’s in French comes from their choice for precision, quite than aneed to ask forgiveness.

There space no statistics (none that I’ve found, anyway) thatshow how often French people apologize, or why, etc. Yet as an Anglo-Saxon,I’ve discovered that the French are sparing through their “sorry”’s, unlikepeople native my own culture.

If you carry out an virtual search because that something prefer “Countrieswhere people apologize the most,” you’ll uncover articles, questions, andheadlines that claim the English, Canadians, Americans, and Japanese in therunning for the optimal spot. There’s even a surveythat discover the average Brit apologizes at the very least 8 time a job – and someapologize an ext than 20!

Of course, as linguist Edwin Battistella pointsout , the word “sorry” doesn’t always mean an apology in English. That canalso to express sympathy, regret, or serve as a polite exclamation. Because that example,many French world find that funny that the British will apologize for theweather, speak something like “Sorry about the rain.” Of course Brits knowthey have no control over the rain – the “sorry” below is much more about expressingthat lock feel sorry because that the human who needs to experience the badweather.

In French, one expression prefer Désolé(e)pour la pluie would be absurd. Yet even an ext universally understandableapologies would be considered too lot or unnecessary.

The French are recognized for being a polite culture. It’scustomary, because that example, come greet shopkeepers, and also even if you yelling at astranger come tell them they’ve reduce something, you’d always resolve them as madame,mademoiselle, or monsieur.But apologies are another story.

This exciting articleabout apologizing in cultures approximately the civilization includes some insight aboutapologies in France. Babbel French team command Sophie Vignoles explains that forthe French, “Saying sorry for something that doesn’t really need an apology,like interrupting someone, will signal a lack of sincerity.”

Although ns don’t necessarily agree with several of Vignoles’ various other observations, i think this specific idea is an intriguing one. The true the the French tend to prefer concise, thank you statements about feelings, rather than “oversharing” or crying one’s emotions the end from the rooftops. I’ve frequently written about how the French tend to it is in lowkey about expressing even big feelings prefer love; to them, it’s an ext about what friend do, than what friend say, due to the fact that anyone can lie.

Just together French people find it silly, stupid, and/or insincere once Americans (like myself) go roughly constantly exclaiming how much we love everything, just how sad miscellaneous is, exactly how amazing, every the time, it seems that over-apologizing additionally falls into that category.

It’s no that the French never say “sorry”, of course-otherwise, this post wouldn’t be here. It’s regular to genuinely feelcontrite around anything indigenous bumping right into someone ~ above the Metro, come hearingsomeone’s shed a loved one. However in general, once it concerns saying “sorry”,the French sweet their words.

Fellow Anglo-Saxons, this can be difficult to readjust to if youstay because that a lengthy time or also move come France. Once I an initial came to Paris tostudy abroad, numerous French acquaintances, not to cite the woman i rented aroom from, frequently remarked that i apologized too much! Some would certainly evenpre-emptively call me, “Don’t be sorry!” On mine end, this was confusing, since I was only being polite.

Learning to be much less generous with my “sorry” ‘s to be one ofthe hardest cultural adjustments I’ve had actually to make since coming to live inFrance an ext than a te ago. Luckily, ~ a few years, I gained out that thehabit of apologizing a many – well, as soon as I’m in France. As soon as I visit or talk tofriends and family in the US, I’m simply as “sorry” together they are.

See more: How Much Is 4 Grams Of Ginger ? How Many Cups Of Fresh Ginger In 4 Grams

This isn’t a warning not to it is in offended if a French persondoesn’t apologize. Personally, I’ve uncovered that many reasonable civilization in anyculture apologize when that seems choose the right thing come do. Yet French peoplegenerally will be less open about talking around their feelings, for this reason dragging upregrets native the past and apologizing because that them or saying points like, “I’msorry i made friend feel that way,” i will not ~ be frequent events.

Still, the biggest difference you’ll notice is not sayingsorry for things that, if girlfriend took some distance indigenous the situation, you couldprobably say there’s no need to apologize for in the an initial place. Together ageneral rule, French world won’t apologize for sitting down next to you onpublic transit, the weather, debating something you’ve said, or personalchoices the don’t an especially affect everyone else, like not being able tospeak up or transporting too many bags.

So, if you come to France, be all set to use, hear, and also seeapology-related vocabulary indigenous time come time. However not eight come twenty times aday!

Over to you

Have you ever had to apologize in French? exactly how did that go?Share your endure in the comments section below!