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40 Ways to Say I’m Sorry in French w/Audio

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jan 11, 2021
Man being sorry

How to say I’m sorry in French? I’ll explain in depth the main French expressions to apologize and give you some French apologies examples + translation + audio.

How do you say ‘I’m sorry’ in French? What about ‘excuse-me’ or ‘please accept my apologies’?

There are many ways to say ‘I’m sorry in French’: from expressing a polite ‘excuse-me’ to get someone’s attention to a deep and serious apology, you’ll have to chose your words carefully. Some French expressions look like English expressions but may not be used exactly the same way.

So let’s dig into the whole ‘I’m sorry’ French world.

This free French lesson – like many on French Today’s blog – features audio recordings.

3 Shortcuts To Say I’m Sorry in French

Before we dive into in-depth explanations, let’s see three fast way to say I’m sorry in French.

  1. Désolé(e) !
    Sorry!
  2. Pardon !
    Sorry! Excuse-me!
  3. Toutes mes excuses !
    My apologies!

Any of these three expressions would work to say sorry as if you bumped into someone, or to be polite when you did something slightly wrong.

You could also use “désolé(e)” or “pardon” when you want to get someone’s attention, like a waiter.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at how to translate ‘I’m sorry’ in French.

How To Say I’m Sorry In French?

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

How To Spell I’m Sorry In French?

“Désolé” is a French adjective, so its spelling will agree depending who speaks. The good thing is that the pronunciation won’t change whether it’s spelled désolé/e/s. We typically use it with the verb to be in French.

  1. Pierre est désolé.
    Pierre is sorry.
  2. Camille est désolée.
    Camille is sorry.
  3. Camille et Pierre sont désolés.
    Camille and Pierre are sorry.
  4. Elles sont désolées.
    They are sorry.

How to Nuance I’m Sorry In French?

It’s very common to modify this statement with an adverb to make it more profond, more apologetic, more formal.

  1. Je suis vraiment désolé.
    I’m really sorry.
  2. Je suis sincèrement désolé.
    I’m sincerely sorry.
  3. Je suis profondément désolé.
    I’m deeply sorry.

Now let’s see other ways of saying I’m sorry in French.

2 Fancy Ways of Saying I’m Sorry in French

If you wanted to switch to a more formal French register, you could also use French synonyms for I’m sorry.

A Very Deep I’m Sorry

You could say “je suis navré(e)“. It’s very strong though: a good expression if you are truly deeply sorry about something.

Je suis navré de vous avoir fait de la peine.
I’m so sorry to have hurt you.

A Confusing I’m Sorry

There’s another way to say I’m sorry in French which is quite confusing for English speakers. It’s “je suis confus” – “je suis confuse” if said by a woman (the final e will make the S sound like a Z).

This way of saying I’m sorry is quite old-fashioned. I’ve never used it myself.

Je croyais vraiment que notre rendez-vous était à 15h. Je suis vraiment confus.
I really thought our appointment was at 3 PM. I’m truly sorry.

So what if you wanted to say ‘I’m confused’ in French? Ah, that’s another story altogether. I’ll direct you to my article on how to express confusion in French.

Now let’s see how to translate another way of expressing ‘I’m sorry’: the expression ‘excuse-me’.

How To Translate Excuse-me In French?

Just like in English, ‘excuse-me’ in French could be used to offer an apology as well as to ask for someone’s attention.

Let me give you some examples of situation where you’d say ‘excuse-me’ in French.

  1. Je suis sincèrement désolée d’avoir oublié de vous répondre. S’il vous plaît excusez-moi.
    I’m really sorry to have forgotten to answer you. Please excuse-me.
  2. Excusez-moi ! Je peux avoir l’addition s’il vous plaît ?
    Excuse-me! May I have the check please?
  3. Pardon ! Vous avez l’heure ?
    Excuse-me! Would you have the time?

4 Ways of Translating Excuse-me To Get Someone’s Attention

When you want to get someone’s attention in French, you may use:

  1. Excusez-moi – in the vous form.
  2. Excuse-moi – in the tu form.
  3. Veuillez m’excusez – quite formal and in the vous form.
  4. Pardon.

Note that expressions one to three use the French imperative mood.

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Now let’s widen the conversation to see how to apologize in French

How To Apologize In French

To offer a deeper apology in French, you could use variations of ‘excuse-me’ and ‘I’m sorry’ in French.

“Excusez-moi” To Apologize

  1. Je vous prie de bien vouloir m’excuser.
    Very formal.
  2. Je vous présente mes excuses.
    Formal.
  3. Veuillez m’excusez.
    Quite formal.
  4. Toutes mes excuses.
    Colloquial
  5. Je m’excuse.
    Although you may hear this, saying “je m’excuse” is not very polite. You’re supposed to ask for forgiveness… When you say “je m’excuse”, you are literally forgiving yourself… Well, the intend is to ask for forgiveness, and as I said, saying “je m’excuse” is very common in France. But it’s not proper French!
  6. Je ne sais pas comment m’excuser.
    You’re in trouble if you don’t even know how to present your apologies!

“Désolé” To Apologize

  1. Je suis sincèrement désolé(e)
    I’m sincerely sorry
  2. Je suis profondément désol(é)
    I’m deeply sorry
  3. Je suis vraiment désolé(e)
    I’m truly sorry

“Pardon” To Apologize

  1. Je vous prie de bien vouloir me pardonner.
    Very formal.
  2. Je vous demande pardon.
    Using vous.
  3. Je te demande pardon.
    Using tu.
  4. S’il te plaît, pardonne-moi.
    Using tu.
  5. J’espère sincèrement que vous pourrez me pardonner.
    I sincerely hope you will be able to forgive me.

Now, let’s see some examples of useful sentences to apologize in French.

10 Examples Of Apologies in French

If you needed to apologize in French, these already made examples could come in handy. Watch out to select the right you in French.

Please press play on the audio player to hear my recording of the apologie in French. Please note when possible, I used a modern spoken French pronunciation.

  1. Play Audio. J’ai vraiment agi comme un idiot. Je te présente mes excuses et je vais tout faire pour que tu me pardonnes.
    I really acted in a stupid way. Please accept my apologies and I’ll do everything for you to forgive me.
  2. Play Audio. Je ne veux pas perdre notre merveilleuse amitié. Je suis sincèrement désolé. S’il te plaît, donne-moi une autre chance.
    I don’t want to lose our wonderful friendship. I’m so sorry. Please give me another chance.
  3. Play Audio. Je me rends compte maintenant que j’ai vraiment exagéré. Je suis navré de t’avoir blessé. Qu’est-ce que je peux faire pour me faire pardonner ?
    I realize now I really went overboard. I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings. What can I do for you to forgive me?
  4. Play Audio. Ce que j’ai fait est impardonnable. Je regrette tellement. Quand tu le voudras, j’aimerais te voir pour te présenter mes excuses en personne.
    What I did is unforgivable. I really regret it. When you want, I’d like to see you to apologize in person.
  5. Play Audio. Je ne pensais pas ce que j’ai dit. J’espère que tu pourras me pardonner.
    I didn’t think what I said. I hope you’ll find it in you to forgive me.
  6. Play Audio. Je regrette profondément ce que j’ai fait. Je ne voulais pas vous faire de mal. J’espère que vous pourrez me pardonner au nom de notre longue et belle amitié.
    I sincerely regret what I did. I didn’t want to hurt you. I hope you’ll be able to forgive me in light of our long and beautiful friendship.
  7. Play Audio. Je me suis laissé emporter par mes émotions et je regrette ce que j’ai dit. J’espère que tu sauras me pardonner, même si je n’ai aucune excuse.
    I let my emotions have the better of me and I regret what I said. I hope you’ll be able to forgive me even though I have no excuse.
  8. Play Audio. Je ne sais pas comment m’excuser pour ce que j’ai dit. C’était stupide de ma part, et j’espère que tu sais que je ne le pense pas. Je te demande pardon.
    I don’t know how to apologize for what I said. It was stupid of me and I hope you know I don’t think what I said. Please forgive me.
  9. Play Audio. J’ai honte de mon comportement. Je m’en veux tellement. Je te présente mes sincères excuses. Je suis vraiment désolé.
    I’m ashamed of my behavior. I’m so mad at myself. Please accept my sincere apologies. I’m really sorry.
  10. Play Audio. Je suis désolé de t’avoir fait du mal. Qu’est-ce que je peux faire pour que tu me pardonnes ?
    I’m sorry I’ve hurt you. What can I do so you forgive me?
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France & Apologies – Cultural Tips

As you may know, I am both a French and American citizen. I was born and raised in Paris, then left for the US in my early twenties. I lived there for 17 years, then returned to France in 2009.

In the US, I learned to apologize. For example, in a work environement, if there’s a misunderstanding, I will always start by apologizing. Same when I handle customer service: the customer is always right, which means that if anything is not easy for them, we should apologize.

I even tend to apologize when it’s clearly not my fault.

Well… it’s not in the French culture to apologize this much. Not in customer service, even less so in our personal lives.

There’s really a culture shock there.

French people may apologize briefly if they bump into you, or to get your attention, like before asking for something like the check. That’s normal.

The French may offer a deep apology when they really messed something up. A lot of people will do their best to get out of it, but it’s possible.

However, most French employees won’t take responsibility for the company they represent, or for a mistake made by a colleague. It’s unlikely you’ll get an apology when returning a piece of appliance that doesn’t work for example. It’s more likely you’ll have a “ce n’est pas de ma faute” – ‘it’s not my fault’ attitude! Charming…

In the personal life, the French are unlikely to apologize for a misunderstanding, or for something that wasn’t clearly their fault. So no “polite” apologies in France either…

What about your experience with French people? Do you have a story to share? I’d love to read it! Please do share it in the comment section below.

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