Imagine just how you’d react if your boss fired you and told you“Sorry, bro” as an apology. You’d be even much more upset in ~ the news, since whatkind of apology is that?

Now imagine just how you’d reaction if a friend bumped right into you and also said,“I beg your pardon”. You will do wonder why he spoke so formally, or maybe you’d thinkhe to be teasing you.

You are watching: How do you say pardon me in french

These two examples illustrate the prominence of making use of theright apology for the appropriate situation, and also that’s what this short article will helpyou do.

After reading it, you’ll know the best means to to speak “sorry” in every case you might encounter in France.

1 The standard “I’m sorry”
2 The classic “Sorry”
3 The upgraded “I’m sorry”
4 The extreme “I’m sorry”
5 the public transport “Sorry”
6 pardon me in French: The attention-getting “Sorry”
7 The “It’s my fault”
8 The formal “I’m sorry”
9 The harsh “I’m sorry”
10 The controversial “I’m sorry”
11 just how to do a thorough apology in French
12 exactly how to refer other meanings of “sorry” in French
13 False cognate alert!
14 How regularly do the French speak “sorry”?
15 end to girlfriend

The standard “I’m sorry”

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

Here are some instances of cases when you can use “Jesuis désolé”:

You phone your physician to say you’re stuck in traffic and also won’t be able to make that to your appointment ~ above time.You yelled at her friend yesterday and want come apologize. You’re talking to your neighbor, who notifies you the his finest friend died last week.

As you can see from that last example, just choose inEnglish, désolé(e) doesn’tjust represent an apology; the can additionally be used to refer sadness the someone isexperiencing a poor feeling or situation.

Another thing about je suis désolé(e) is the itcan be adjusted to any type of subject. For example: Nous sommes désolé s (We’resorry).

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

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


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

Nous sommes désolésde t’avoir fait attendre. (We’re sorry to have actually made girlfriend wait.)

The standard “Sorry”

There are situations when saying the totality phrase Jesuis désolé(e) may be too formal.

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

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

Remember that due to the fact that désoléis an adjective, it will need to agree v the subject. You have the right to see just how tomake désolé agree through the gender and number of(a) subject(s) in the previous entry on this list.

Here room some examples:

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

The upgraded “I’m sorry”

Sometimes a basic “I’m sorry” feeling a little bit too light. In thiscase, you can add one that the adhering to adjectives before désolé(e):

Note the you can’t say Je suis très désolé(e),because très way “a lot” and using the would imply there room differentdegrees come express just how sorry friend are. Most human being consider the you’re eithersorry or friend aren’t. You likewise can’t speak Jesuis si désolé(e), probably for the same reason.

The excessive “I’m sorry”

If you desire to present that you’re exceptionally sorry, specifically when it involves something an extremely serious the you’ve done, or really bad news you’re reacting to, you deserve to say Je suis navré(e).

Navré’setymology shows itspower: it’s acquired from a native that intended “to wound through piercing or cuttingsomeone”. Together it evolved, it concerned mean things prefer wounding, sorrow, andbroken-heartedness. So, navré(e) isn’t to be provided lightly.

When i was discovering French, Ifell in love with this indigenous – it’s one easy way to express extreme grief,regret, and also sympathy.

Keep in mind that, prefer désolé,navré has to agree with the sex and variety of itssubject(s).

The public deliver “Sorry”


If you usage the Paris Métro or go everywhere that’s overfilled inFrance, you’re tied to eventually bump into someone. As soon as this happens,simply say Pardon.

Pardon is easy to use since it doesn’t have toagree through a subject or thing – it’s just a stand-alone word.

But using it have the right to be confusing for us native English-speakers.Many of us would think of saying Excusez-moi instead, due to the fact that it’s so comparable to “Excuse me”. Yet whilethis phrase is rather similar, yes a vital difference.

The difference between Pardon and Excusez-moiis the Pardon implies you’re simply asking forgiveness, when Excusez-moioften (but no always) comes through the idea the needing to obtain someone’sattention. In English, we use “Excuse me” this way at times, as well – forexample, “Excuse me, however I didn’t get a fork.” Since bumping right into someone is a scenario where you particularly want tomake it clear the you didn’t perform it to acquire attention or it is in noticed, Pardonis the logical choice.

You can also use Pardon if youdon’t understand or hear what someone just said. In this case, simplyraise the ton of her voice at the finish so that sounds favor a question.

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

As I mentioned in the ahead entry, Excusez-moi usually suggests that you apologizing but likewise need to it is in noticed. thus excusez-moi have the right to be considered the French forgive me. A perfect instance of when you’d use this is if you’re in a restaurant and also would favor to salary the bill. You have the right to say Excusez-moi to politely gain the waiter’s fist as they happen by your table.

Another really common method you’ll hear French people use Excusez-moi is when they exit a crowded train.In this case, castle opt for Excusez-moi over the vault entry, Pardonbecause yes sir the idea that “Please notice that i’m now getting off the trainand move out of my way.”

Although needing come be i found it is frequently what Excusez-moiimplies, French people likewise often use it to apologize because that callingthe wrong number:

Excusez-moi,je me suis trompé de numéro.

Sorry, I dubbed the dorn number.

In this case, it’s just to to apologize – clearly theperson on the other end of the heat is mindful of their presence.

Note the while Excusez-moi is the many common method touse this phrase, girlfriend can add whatever pronoun goes v the subject. Forexample, Excusez-nous. Friend could likewise technically change the imperativeto the tu form, in the unusual instance where she trying come ratherformally obtain the fist of someone you know (normally just call out theirname or something).

The “It’s my fault”

Je suis désolé(e) is a perfect fine way to speak “sorry” inFrench, however French people rarely use it on its own. Often, they describe what they’resorry for and add some type of justification.

Unfortunately, there’s no formula because that what to write or speak after“sorry”, due to the fact that it obviously relies on the situation, however here’s simple wayto do your phrase sound an ext natural: admit that’s it’s her fault and also takeresponsibility because that what happened.

To do that, you deserve to use “c’estma faute” (literally: it’s my fault).

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

Sorry, it’s mine fault, ns should’ve assumed of that.

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

Sorry, it’s mine fault, i’ll be an ext careful following time.

As you have the right to see, utilizing c’est ma faute often involvesverb tenses the go beyond the current simple. But if she just beginning outwith French, don’t worry. The many important component of an apology is sincerelymeaning it, so even if you’ve only acquired Je suis désolé(e) down because that now, aFrench human being will understand and also still evaluate it.

The officially “I’m sorry”


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

In together cases, you deserve to use “Veuillezm’excuser” (please expropriate my apologies) or “Jevous demande pardon” (I beg her pardon). You’ll frequently see this phrases inprofessional correspondence or on signs.

For example, it’s really common to check out the expression Veuilleznous excuser pour la gêne occasionnée(literally: please excuse us for the difficulty/discomfort we can have caused;most often translated as “We apologize for the inconvenience”) consisted of insigns or messages indicating a train is delay or cancelled, or abuilding/transportation avoid is close up door for building and construction or an additional exceptionalor unforeseen reason. You can see a photograph of one actual article like this, here.

As for Je vous demande pardon, keep in mind that you can alsouse it together a question once you don’t understand what someone simply said. Considerit a (much) much more formal version of pardon.

I’ve likewise seen Je vous demande pardon offered toemphasize the fact that a person is yes, really sorry because that something, kind of top top thesame level together the “upgraded ‘I’m sorry’” phrases stated earlier. In thiscase, it would be provided with te. For example, if you’re a pan of romanticmovies or novels, you could just come across something choose this:

Je car demandepardon. Je ne voulais pas dare blesser. (Please pardon me. I didn’tmean come hurt you.)

Although you’ll most likely come throughout them at part point,remember the these phrases space rarely provided in everyday spoken French.

The harsh “I’m sorry”

There space phrases that always come before bad news.

Je suis au regret de vous informer is among them.

It literally means “I to be at the remorse to inform you that…”,and is largely used through companies once they want to tell you they won’t rental youdespite your amazing CV or to tell girlfriend they can’t aid you.

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

The controversial “I’m sorry”

If you walk to France, you might hear civilization saying Je m’excuse. It’s relatively common here, probably due to the fact that it takes a little longer come say 보다 Désolé(e) and feels a little bit formal.

Some French people (and non-native speakers) check out it thatway. Yet many indigenous French-speakers uncover this phrase rude. The factor liesin its literal meaning translation. Instead of questioning someone else for forgiveness, Jem’excuse literally way that girlfriend excuse/forgive yourself.

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

Others would certainly say the it counts on exactly how you usage Jem’excuse. Because that instance, J post inour comments section that, for them, it depends on the speaker’s circumstances.If you’re using it in reference to something that you really would require someoneto forgive you because that (like knocking castle over), that rude. However if it’s used toapologize for any inconvenience because of circumstances the the speaker can’tcontrol or change (For example, Je m’excuse mais je ne parle pas bien français),it’s fine. Ns was taught this in my French classes in ~ school, as well.

Some French world feel this way, and others (including, asI found while researching this article, mine French husband), tho think Jem’excuse is rude, regardless of the circumstances.

So because that those of us finding out French, it’s finest to recognize thisphrase exists and also understand what that means, yet not usage it.

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

How to make a detailed apology in French


The French don’t have tendency to like sophisticated apologies (more onthat a small later), but sometimes there’s much more to be claimed than what this listcovers. Luckily, over there are many websites that deserve to help, v suggestions ofapologies for every sorts of occasions.

Personally, I favor this site, which argues apologies you deserve to send as message messages. Many would occupational perfectly fine in talked French, too, or in an informal letter, card, or email. The examples on this list are much shorter – sometimes even surprisingly short – yet could make great additions to a longer apology.

If you’d choose to find some other, longer ways come say “sorry”in French, do an online search for “modèle sorry sms” (“model apology textmessages”). I’ve suggested this search term due to the fact that if you search for “modèleexcuses,” you’ll find examples of formal letter of apology. Of course, thosecould be interesting if you have to write one on behalf of your business, for this reason ifthat’s what you’re looking for, now you know how to search for that, too.

How to express other definitions of “sorry” in French

Although over there are many similarities between the variousways to say “sorry” in French and also English, one point to keep in mental is that désolé and the cousins aren’t quite as faint (orversatile, depending on whom you ask) as “sorry” is in English.

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

Another common means “sorry” is provided in English, is to express one’s condolences. Although you deserve to say Je suis désolé(e) to express your sympathies, if you desire to be more specific, it’s best to use:

Mes condoléances /(Toutes) Mes condoléances – my condolences/My thank you very much condolences

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

Remember the you have the right to replace the pronoun come fit who’sexpressing your condolences, for example, Toutes nos condoléances(Our thank you condolences).

To find out other methods to to express “sorry” in its myriad ofdifferent English meanings and connotations, in French, have actually a look at thishelpful list.

False cognate alert!

Saying “sorry” in French is fairly straightforward. Butwhen it concerns apology-related nouns, you’re bound to run right into some fauxamis.

The feminine indigenous apologie tends to it is in a term 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 the word “apology” is excuse.For English-speakers, this would indicate someone giving a factor why castle can’tdo something. However in French, it comes from an additional meaning, pertained to ourphrase “Excuse me”. Une excuse is exactly how you speak “an apology” in Frenchmost that the time.

Présenter ses excuses or demanderpardon space the most common ways come say “apologize” in French. for example: La star a présenté sesexcuses auprès de ses fans. (The star apologized to she fans).

You can uncover some sport and additional ways come say“apologize” in French, here.

How frequently do the French to speak “sorry”?


With at the very least fourteen various ways to say sorry, girlfriend maythink the French space a very apologetic people. In fact, the ranges of“sorry”’s in French originates from their preference for precision, rather than aneed to ask forgiveness.

There space no statistics (none the I’ve found, anyway) thatshow how frequently French people apologize, or why, etc. But as one Anglo-Saxon,I’ve uncovered that the French room sparing through their “sorry”’s, unlikepeople indigenous my own culture.

If you perform an online search for something choose “Countrieswhere world apologize the most,” you’ll uncover articles, questions, andheadlines that claim the English, Canadians, Americans, and also Japanese in therunning because that the peak spot. There’s even a surveythat discover the average Brit apologizes at least 8 time a work – and someapologize more than 20!

Of course, together linguist Edwin Battistella pointsout , the word “sorry” doesn’t constantly mean one apology in English. It canalso to express sympathy, regret, or offer as a polite exclamation. For example,many French people find the funny that the British will certainly apologize because that theweather, speak something favor “Sorry about the rain.” Of food Brits knowthey have actually no control over the rain – the “sorry” right here is much more about expressingthat lock feel sorry for the human being who needs to experience the badweather.

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

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

This amazing articleabout apologizing in cultures about the people includes some insight aboutapologies in France. Babbel French team command Sophie Vignoles describes that forthe French, “Saying sorry for something the doesn’t really need an apology,like interrupting someone, will certainly signal a absence of sincerity.”

Although i don’t have to agree with few of Vignoles’ various other observations, ns think this details idea is an intriguing one. That true that the French often tend to choose concise, sincere statements about feelings, fairly than “oversharing” or crying one’s emotions the end from the rooftops. I’ve often written about how the French often tend to it is in lowkey around expressing even large feelings like love; come them, it’s an ext about what you do, 보다 what girlfriend say, because anyone have the right to lie.

Just as French civilization find the silly, stupid, and/or insincere once Americans (like myself) go roughly constantly exclaiming exactly how much we love everything, how sad something is, 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 write-up wouldn’t it is in here. It’s typical to genuinely feelcontrite around anything from bumping right into someone on the Metro, to hearingsomeone’s lost a loved one. However in general, once it concerns saying “sorry”,the French weigh their words.

Fellow Anglo-Saxons, this deserve to be difficult to readjust to if youstay because that a lengthy time or even move to France. Once I an initial came come Paris tostudy abroad, numerous French acquaintances, no to cite the woman i rented aroom from, regularly remarked that ns apologized too much! Some would certainly evenpre-emptively tell me, “Don’t it is in sorry!” On my end, this was confusing, because I was just being polite.

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

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This isn’t a warning no to it is in offended if a French persondoesn’t apologize. Personally, I’ve found that many reasonable civilization in anyculture apologize when that seems like the right thing to do. But French peoplegenerally will certainly be much less open about talking around their feelings, therefore dragging upregrets native the past and also apologizing for them or saying things like, “I’msorry ns made you feel the way,” i will not ~ be regular events.

Still, the biggest difference you’ll notice is not sayingsorry for points that, if friend took some distance indigenous the situation, friend couldprobably to speak there’s no have to apologize for in the first place. Together ageneral rule, French people won’t apologize because that sitting down alongside you onpublic transit, the weather, debating something did you do it said, or personalchoices the don’t particularly affect anyone else, prefer not gift able tospeak up or moving too many bags.

So, if you come to France, be prepared to use, hear, and seeapology-related vocabulary native time come time. However not eight come twenty time aday!

Over to you

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