31 Ways to Say Sorry In Different Languages

31 Ways to Say Sorry In Different Languages

While many poets and songwriters may say that “sorry” is the hardest word to say, learning how to say sorry in different languages is important.

One of the first things that you need to learn in a foreign language is basic phrases, such as how to say “hello” and goodbye and how to say “yes” and how to say “no”. How to say “sorry” is also important because, well, it’s only polite to take responsibility for your actions.

If you accidentally hurt or insulted someone, one way to make sure that it was only a momentary mistake and not an unforgivable error is to apologize properly. This is why learning to say sorry is so important.

In this post, we’ve gathered 31 words and phrases for sorry in different languages all over the world. Take a look and maybe you’ll find that sorry isn’t that hard a word to learn.  

1. Spanish

What do you say? Lo siento

 Another common way to say sorry in Spanish is to use either “perdona” or “perdone”, this translates to “forgive me”. “Perdona” is what you use among friends and family, while “perdone” is what you use when addressing a stranger or a superior. 

2. Italian

What do you say? Mi dispiace

This is the formal way to say sorry in Italian, but you can also simply say “scusi”.

3. German 

What do you say? Es tut mir leid

You might also hear a German-speaker say “entschuldigung” if they want to apologize for a minor offense like bumping into you in the street.

4. French

What do you say? Je suis désolé/désolée

In accordance with French word gender rules, f you are speaking to a man, use désolé. If you are speaking to a woman, use désolée. You can also skip adding “Je suis” which is a French phrase that translates to “I am”. 

5. Portuguese

What do you say? Sinto muito

This phrase is understood to mean “I’m sorry” by Portuguese speakers all over the world; however, you can also simply say the word “desculpa” if you want to apologize for your actions.

6. Russian

What do you say? Izvinite

This is the word to use if you are in a formal situation or apologizing for a small fault. You can also use “prostit”. 

Here is a body language tip for apologizing in Russian, look down as it makes your apology seem more sincere. 

7. Danish

What do you say? Undskyld

This is the word for “sorry” in Danish, so you can say “undskyld” and add what you are sorry for like being late or spilling a drink. You can also say “Je er ked af det” which means “I’m sorry.”

8. Dutch 

What do you say? Het spijt me

The literal translation of this Dutch phase is something like “it spites me” and Dutch speakers use it to express regret for their actions or, sorry.

9. Swedish 

What do you say? Förlåt

If you need to say sorry to someone who is senior to you or an elder, you might want to try the more formal “Jag skulle vilja be om ursäkt” which translates to I would like to apologize. 

10. Finnish

What do you say? Anteeksi

This Finnish word roughly translated to “I’m sorry” or “to apologize”.  You can just say this to mean that you are sorry or you can also say “olen pahoillani” which is a phrase that means “I’m sorry.”

11. Polish

What do you say? Przepraszam

This is the literal equivalent of “sorry” in Polish and is used both to apologize and also as a sort of “excuse me” if you want to get someone’s attention.

If you want to apologize on behalf of a group, you can say “przepraszamy” which is “we are sorry”.

12. Albanian

What do you say? Më fal

You can also say “Falni” which means “forgive me”.

13. Bosnian

What do you say? Žao mi je

You can say this if you want to say sorry to a Bosnian.

14. Hungarian 

What do you say? Sajnálom

While just saying “Sajnálom” is an appropriate way to say sorry in Hungarian, you can also try the more formal “szeretnék bocsánatot kérni”. This longer, more formal phrase might be more appropriate if you want to apologize to a superior or an elder.

15. Czech 

What do you say? Promiňte

Just saying “promiňte” is an acceptable way to say sorry in Czech, but you can also try using the more formal  “chtěl bych se omluvit”.

16. Icelandic

What do you say? Fyrirgefðu

You can say this is you want to apologize in Icelandic, and it can also be used to say excuse me or pardon me. 

17. Norwegian

What do you say? Unnskyld

This is the most basic way to say “I’m sorry” in Norwegian, but if you are looking for a more formal way to apologize in Norwegian, you can say “Jeg vil gjerne be om unnskyldning”.

18. Greek 

What do you say? Signómi

If you want to say sorry in Greek, you can just use this phrase.

19. Arabic

What do you say? Ana assif

Strictly speaking, this is how you say sorry to a male. If you are addressing a female, it’s “ana assifa” and if you want to apologize for a group say “aasifeen”.

20. Afrikaans 

What do you say? Jammer

Other words that you might hear for sorry aside from “jammer” would be “askies” or “verskoon my” but “jammer” is more common.

21. Mandarin Chinese 

What do you say? Duì bu qǐ

If you feel a more formal apology is needed, you can say “bào qiàn”.

22. Japanese

What do you say? Sumimasen

Another common way to say sorry in Japanese is “Gomen’nasai” but this is considered informal and mostly for use with those you are close to like family and friends. 

23. Korean

What do you say? Joesonghamnida

This is the more formal and polite way to say sorry in Korean. You might hear another phrase, “mianhamnida” in more casual situations.

24. Indonesian 

What do you say? Maaf

The word “maaf” is pronounced similar to “uh-oh”, so “MA-af”. While the word “maaf” is an acceptable way to apologize in all situations, there is a more formal phrase of apology in Indonesian which is “Saya minta maaf”.

25. Filipino 

What do you say? Patawad

While just saying “patawad” is usually enough to apologize in Filipino, if you want to be a little more polite, consider adding “po” or “ho” afterwards. Adding “po” or “ho” at the end of a sentence is a way of showing respect in Filipino, so saying “Patawad, po” or “Patawad, ho” sounds a little more sincere.  


What do you say? Tôi xin lỗi

This is the basic Vietnamese phrase that you can use to apologize to someone. Take note that, if you are speaking to an elder or someone of a higher social status, you might want to use the more formal” Tôi muốn xin lỗi”.

27. Thai

What do you say? Khǎaw-thôot

This is the equivalent of the word “sorry” in Thai. You can use this for both formal or informal apologies. If you are hanging around with younger Thai-speakers, you might hear “thôot thii” or “saaw-rîI” which is are slang words for sorry.

28. Hindi

What do you say? Main ksamaa caa haTaa huun

This Hindi phrase translates to “I apologize” and is the formal way to say “sorry”. Another informal way to say sorry in Hindi is “mujhe maaf kar Do”.

29. Bengali

What do you say? Ami dukkhito

If you are speaking to a native Bengali speaker, you can say this if you want to say sorry.

30. Swahili

What do you say? Samahani

This is the word for sorry that you can use when speaking in Swahili. There is a more formal phrase to use to say sorry in Swahili and this is “ningependa kuomba msamaha.”

31. Turkish

What do you say? Özür dilerim

This is the most basic phrase that you can use to say that you are sorry in Turkish. In more formal situations, you might hear or want to use “Özür dilemek isterim”.


Every culture around the world has its own way of apologizing and expressing regret. One of the most basic ways to do so is to learn the word or phrase for sorry in the language that you are trying to learn. 

The word for sorry is one of the first words and phrases that you need to learn in any language, however, sometimes a proper apology requires more than just a “sorry”. 

Different cultures have different norms of behavior and there may be different cultural nuances to apologizing. Body language may play a part in an apology coming off as sincere. They may also be other more appropriate phrases to use to say sorry that depend on social status or even age.

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