Ways To Say I’m Sorry In French

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Hey there! Feeling remorseful and need to apologize in French? No worries, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll explore various ways to say ‘I’m sorry’ in French, whether you’re looking for formal or informal apologies, specific situations, or even apologies in business or professional settings.

We’ll also cover apologizing to friends or family, and how to apologize for miscommunication or not understanding. Additionally, we’ll give you tips on how to apologize for canceling or changing plans.

With our extensive knowledge of the French language, you’ll be able to express your apologies with ease and grace. So, if you’re ready to learn some useful phrases and expressions to repair any damage, let’s dive in and discover the many ways to say ‘I’m sorry’ in French!

Formal Apologies in French

Now let’s talk about how you can make a formal apology in French.

When you find yourself needing to apologize in a formal setting, it is important to use the appropriate language and tone.

The phrase ‘Je suis désolé(e)’ is the most common way to say ‘I’m sorry’ in French.

Additionally, you can add more depth to your apology by saying ‘Veuillez m’excuser’ which translates to ‘Please excuse me.’

It is crucial to use these phrases with sincerity and respect to convey your genuine remorse.

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Informal Ways to Say Sorry

Apologize like a local with these informal expressions that will help you blend in effortlessly with native French speakers:

  • Start by saying ‘Désolé’ (Sorry) or ‘Pardon’ (Excuse me).
  • For a more casual apology, you can say ‘Je suis vraiment désolé’ (I’m really sorry) or ‘Je m’excuse sincèrement’ (I sincerely apologize).
  • Another option is ‘Je suis navré(e)’ (I’m sorry), which is slightly more formal but still used in everyday conversations.

Remember, using these expressions will help you navigate informal situations with ease.

Apologizing for Specific Situations

When apologizing for specific situations, it’s important to adopt a more refined approach. This can be done by using idiomatic expressions commonly used by native speakers. For example, if you accidentally bumped into someone, you can say "Pardon, je ne faisais pas attention." This expression shows that you understand the specific situation and are genuinely sorry for your actions.

If you were late for a meeting, you can say "Désolé(e) du retard." This expression acknowledges your lateness and conveys your sincere apology. By using these idiomatic expressions, you can effectively apologize for specific situations and demonstrate your understanding and remorse.

Apologizing for Being Late

Imagine rushing into a meeting room, breathless and flustered, and the first words out of your mouth are, ‘I’m so sorry for being late!’

In French, you could say, ‘Je suis vraiment désolé(e) d’être en retard !’

It’s important to acknowledge your tardiness and show genuine remorse.

Being punctual is highly valued in French culture, so apologizing for being late is a polite and respectful gesture.

Remember to always strive to be on time and apologize when you’re not.

Apologizing for Making a Mistake

When apologizing for making a mistake, there are a few key steps to follow:

  1. Acknowledge your mistake and express genuine regret, creating a sense of empathy and understanding.

  2. In French, you can say ‘Je suis désolé(e)’ or ‘Je m’excuse’ to apologize for making a mistake.

  3. It’s important to use a sincere tone and body language to convey your remorse.

  4. Additionally, you can offer to make amends or rectify the situation to show your commitment to making things right.

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Apologizing for Offending Someone

If you unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, it’s important to express genuine remorse and offer to make amends.

In French, you can apologize for offending someone by saying ‘Je suis désolé(e) de t’avoir offensé(e)’ which means ‘I’m sorry for offending you.’

It’s crucial to acknowledge your mistake and show empathy towards the person you hurt.

Remember, a sincere apology can go a long way in repairing relationships and showing that you value the other person’s feelings.

Apologizing in Business or Professional Settings

When apologizing in business or professional settings, it’s crucial to show genuine remorse and take responsibility for any mistakes. This can greatly impact how you’re seen professionally.

Be sincere and specific about what you’re apologizing for, and offer a solution or plan to rectify the situation. Remember to maintain a professional tone and avoid making excuses.

A sincere apology can demonstrate your professionalism and integrity, helping to rebuild trust and maintain positive relationships.

Apologizing to Friends or Family

Apologizing to friends or family can be a heartfelt way to mend relationships and express genuine remorse.

When saying sorry, it’s important to be sincere and show that you truly regret your actions. You can say ‘Je suis désolé(e)’ or ‘Pardon’ to apologize.

Additionally, you can express how sorry you are by saying ‘Je m’excuse vraiment’ or ‘Je regrette profondément.’

Remember, a genuine apology can go a long way in repairing and strengthening your bond with loved ones.

Apologizing for Not Understanding or Miscommunication

Misunderstandings can happen, but it’s crucial to bridge the communication gap when you’re struggling to comprehend or express yourself. If you find yourself not understanding or miscommunicating, don’t hesitate to apologize.

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Saying ‘Je suis désolé(e) de ne pas comprendre’ (I’m sorry for not understanding) or ‘Je m’excuse pour la confusion’ (I apologize for the confusion) shows your willingness to rectify the situation and improve the conversation.

Remember, clear communication is key to maintaining strong relationships.

Apologizing for Canceling or Changing Plans

If you ever find yourself needing to cancel or change plans in French, it’s important to know how to apologize for the inconvenience.

Saying ‘Je suis désolé(e)’ (I’m sorry) is a good start, but you can also add phrases like ‘Je regrette beaucoup’ (I deeply regret) or ‘Je m’excuse sincèrement’ (I sincerely apologize).

Remember to express your regret and understanding of the inconvenience caused to maintain a respectful and courteous tone.


In conclusion, knowing how to apologize in French is an essential skill for any French learner. Whether you need to apologize formally or informally, for specific situations or in professional settings, having the right words and phrases at your disposal can help you navigate any apology with ease.

By understanding the various ways to say ‘I’m sorry’ in French, you can effectively communicate your remorse and show respect to those around you.

So, next time you find yourself needing to apologize in French, don’t hesitate to use these expressions and mend any misunderstandings.