62 ways to apologize, excuse yourself and say sorry in French

Elinor Zucchet

We all make mistakes. And, very often, communication is key to resolve a tricky situation. But what do we do if it happens abroad? Don’t worry, we have you covered — at least in French!

Whether you bumped into somebody on the Champs-Elysées or you forgot your rendez-vous with your Québécois friend, learning how to say sorry in French is some of the most useful vocabulary to get familiar with. Ok, maybe after thank you and you’re welcome.

From “Je suis désolé(e)” to “Toutes mes excuses” and “Excusez-moi”, we have compiled the best way to apologize in French. Pardon my French!

How to say I’m sorry in French

The proper way to say pardon me in French depends on the situation. The tables below will help you to find the most appropriate expressions to apologize:

  • If you have hurt someone
  • If something bad happened to someone you care about
  • If you bump into, or want to get past someone
  • If you need somebody to repeat something
  • If you need to apologize in French in a professional environment

Most expressions can be used with “vous” or “tu”, but we also added the context when needed.

How to say sorry to someone you have hurt

Have you messed up? While you can’t turn back time, an apology goes a long way. And we’re here to help you out!

Woman says sorry in French to her friend while out on a bike ride.

EnglishFrenchIPAContext
I’m truly sorryJe suis vraiment désolé(e)ʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle(ɛ)
I’m very sorryJe suis désolé(e)ʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ)
I’m deeply sorryJe suis profondément désolé(e)ʒə sɥi pɾɔfõdemə dezɔle(ɛ)
I’m sincerely sorryJe suis sincèrement désolé(e)ʒə sɥi sɛ̃sɛɾəmə dezɔle(ɛ)
I feel terrible, I’m so sorryJe m’en veux, je suis vraiment désolé(e)ʒə mɑ̃ vø, ʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle(ɛ)
I’m so sorry, that was thoughtless of meJe suis vraiment désolé, c'était inconsidéré de ma part.ʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle, setɛt‿ ɛ̃kõsideɾe də ma paɾ.
I’m very sorry for the way I behavedJe suis vraiment désolé(e) de la façon dont je me suis comporté(e)ʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle də la fasõ dõ ʒə mə sɥi kõpɔɾte(ɛ).
I apologize, I was out of lineJe m'excuse, j'ai dépassé les bornesʒə mɛkskyzə, ʒe depasele bɔɾnə
I apologize for my behaviorJe m'excuse pour mon comportementʒə mɛkskyzə puɾ mõ kõpɔɾtəmə
I’m sorry, it was my faultJe suis désolé(e), c'était ma fauteʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ), sete ma fotə
I’m so sorry about what I didJe suis vraiment désolé(e) de ce que j'ai faitʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle(ɛ) də sə kə ʒe fe
What I did was wrongJ’ai eu tort de faire çaʒey tɔɾ də fɛɾə sa
I’m sorry I hurt youJe suis désolé(e) de t'avoir fait du malʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ) də tavwaɾ blɛse(ɛ)Informal
I didn’t mean to hurt youJe ne voulais pas te faire de malʒə nə vule pa tə fɛɾə də malInformal

How to say you are sorry when something bad has happened to someone you care about

Empathy is a wonderful quality, but it can be hard to convey in a foreign language. Here are a few things you can say if something bad has happened to a French speaking friend or someone you care about.

Woman says sorry in French to her French speaking friend.

EnglishFrenchIPAContext
I’m so sorry to hear thatJe suis vraiment désolé(e) d'entendre çaʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle(ɛ) dɑ̃tɑ̃dɾə sa
My deepest sympathiesMes sincères condoléancesme sɛ̃sɛɾə kõdɔleɑ̃səSomeone is deceased
I’m sorry that happened to youJe suis désolé(e) que cela vous soit arrivéʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ) kə səla vu swat‿ arive
I’m really sorry for youJe suis vraiment désolé(e) pour vousʒə sɥi vɾɛmə dezɔle(ɛ) puɾ vu
I’m devastated for youJe suis navré(e) pour vousʒə sɥi navɾe(ɛ) puɾ vu
My condolencesToutes mes condoléancestutəme kõdɔleɑ̃səSomeone is deceased
My sympathiesMes condoléancesme kõdɔleɑ̃səSomeone is deceased
I’m sorry, I’m with you with all my heartJe suis désolé(e), je suis de tout cœur avec toiʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ), ʒə sɥi də tu kœɾ avɛk twaInformal
I’m sorry, I’m here for youJe suis désolé, je suis là pour toiʒə sɥi dezɔle, ʒə sɥi la puɾ twaInformal

How to apologize when you bump into someone by accident or you want to get past someone blocking the way

The streets of downtown Paris or Montréal can get crowded sometimes! If you happen to bump into someone or you want to get past someone, it’s pretty easy to be polite. Just use one of the sayings below!

EnglishFrenchIPA
Excuse me pleaseExcusez-moiɛkskyze-mwa
Sorry, can I get by?Désolé(e), je peux passer ?dezɔle(ɛ), ʒə pø pase ?
PardonPardonpaɾdõ

How to apologize when you need to ask someone to repeat something

When learning French, one of the challenges you might encounter is to understand native francophones. Don’t be shy! Ask them to repeat with the following expressions.

To learn French don't be afraid to ask for someone to repeat what they are saying.

EnglishFrenchIPA
Pardon?Pardon ?paɾdõ ?
Sorry I didn’t hear youDésolé(e), je n’ai pas entendudezɔle(ɛ), ʒə ne paz‿ ɑ̃tɑ̃dy
Sorry, could you please repeat that?Pourriez-vous répéter, s'il vous plaît ?purje-vu ɾepete, sil vu ple ?
I beg your pardonJe vous demande pardon ?ʒə vu dəmɑ̃də paɾdõ ?
Sorry, what did you say?Désolé(e), qu'est-ce que vous avez dit ?dezɔle(ɛ), kɛ-sə kə vuz‿ ave di ?
Sorry, I didn’t understandDésolé(e), je n'ai pas comprisdezɔle, ʒə ne pa kõpɾi

How to apologize when you have made a small mistake (that did not hurt anyone).

As we say in French, “L’erreur est humaine” (Literally, mistakes are human). For daily bloopers, keep reading!

EnglishFrenchIPA
It was my badJ’ai commis une erreurʒe kɔmiz‿ yn ɛrœɾ
I messed upJ'ai tout gâchéʒe tu gɑʃe
I was wrong and I apologizeJ'avais tort et je m'excuseʒave tɔɾt‿e ʒə mɛkskyzə
Sorry about that!Désolé(e) pour ça !dezɔle(ɛ) puɾ sa !
Whoops! Sorry!Oups ! Je suis désolé(e) !u ! ʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ) !
It was my faultC'est ma fautesɛ ma fotə
I’m sorryJe suis désolé(e)ʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ)
I apologizeJe m'excuseʒə mɛkskyzə

How to say sorry in a formal or business environment

Knowing the proper etiquette to say sorry in French is particularly important in a work environment. The expressions below will help you apologize in the most common business situations.

Man says sorry in French to his colleague at work, in a formal business environment.

EnglishFrenchIPA
Sorry for the late replyDésolé pour la réponse tardivedezɔle puɾ la ɾepõsə taɾdivə
Please forgive the lengthy delayVeuillez excuser ce long retardvœjez‿ ɛkskyze sə lõ ɾətaɾ
My apologies you didn’t receive the report you requestedToutes mes excuses pour ne pas avoir reçu le rapport que vous aviez demandétutəmez‿ ɛkskyzə puɾ nə paz‿ avwaɾ ɾəsy lə ɾapɔɾ kə vuz‿ avje dəmɑ̃de.
I apologize for the confusion…Je m'excuse pour la confusion...ʒə mɛkskyzə puɾ la kõfyzjõ...
I’m sorry to bother youJe suis désolé(e) de vous avoir dérangé(e)ʒə sɥi dezɔle(ɛ) də vuz‿ avwaɾ deɾɑ̃ʒe
Sorry I couldn’t attend the meetingDésolé(e) de ne pas avoir pu assister à la réuniondezɔle(ɛ) də nə paz‿ avwaɾ py asiste a la ɾeynjõ
Sorry, I’m lateDésolé(e) pour le retarddezɔle(ɛ) puɾ lə ɾətaɾ
I regret to inform you thatJ'ai le regret de vous informer queʒe lə ɾəgɾe də vuz‿ ɛ̃fɔɾme kə
All my excusesToutes mes excusestutəmez‿ ɛkskyzə

How to ask for forgiveness

You’ve used the expressions above to apologize? Now, it’s time to ask for forgiveness.

EnglishFrenchIPAContext
Can you forgive me?Pourras-tu me pardonner ?pura-ty mə paɾdɔne ?Informal
How can I make it up to you?Comment puis-je me faire pardonner ?kɔmə pɥi-ʒə mə fɛɾə paɾdɔne ?
Sorry, I won’t do it again.Désolé(e), ça ne se reproduira plusdezɔle, sa nə sə ɾəpɾɔdɥiɾa ply
I’m begging you to forgive meJe vous prie de m’excuserʒə vu pɾjə də mɛkskyzeFormal
Please forgive meS'il te plaît, pardonne-moisil tə ple, paɾdɔnə-mwaInformal
I ask for your forgivenessJ’implore votre pardonʒɛ̃plɔɾə tõ paɾdõFormal
I will do anythingJe ferai n'importe quoiʒə fəɾe nɛ̃pɔɾtə kwa

How to express regret

Let’s get even more dramatic with these phrases to express regret.

Man shows regret in French.

EnglishFrenchIPA
I wish I could take it backJ'aimerais pouvoir revenir en arrièreʒ(e)məɾe puvwaɾ ɾəvəniɾɑ̃n‿ arjɛɾə
I wish I hadn’t done thatJ’aimerais ne pas l’avoir faitʒ(e)məɾe nə pa lavwaɾ fe
I regret itJe le regretteʒə lə ɾəgɾɛtə
I wish I hadn’t said thatJ’aimerais ne jamais avoir dit çaʒ(e)məɾe nə ʒamɛz‿ avwaɾ di sa
I will never forgive myselfJe ne me le pardonnerai jamaisʒə nə mə lə paɾdɔnəɾe ʒame

The culture of apologizing in France

If you’re from an English speaking country such as the USA, Canada, Ireland or the United Kingdom, chances are you apologize often. Whether it is at work, on the street or with friends, think about it: How many times a day do you say “sorry” even when you’ve done nothing wrong?

While the Québécoise culture is closer to the American one, in France, it’s another story. French do not apologize very often, especially when they consider that they have nothing to apologize for. Most French will briefly apologize if they REALLY bump into you, but don’t be offended if they don’t. Nothing personal, it’s just French etiquette!

In the workplace, they might say “Ce n’est pas de ma faute” (It’s not my fault) and refuse to take responsibility for their company or their colleague.

Not sure when, or what to apologize for in French? Check out this video.

How to accept an apology in French

Now that you know how to apologize in French, here are a couple of expressions to accept an apology from somebody else:

  • Ce n’est pas grave
  • N’en parlons plus
  • J’accepte vos/tes excuses
  • Aucun problème
  • Ne vous inquiétez pas/Ne t’inquiète pas
  • Pas de soucis

Aucun problème

If you’ve made a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Take a deep breath and use one of the expressions you just learned! Errors happen, but the important thing is to acknowledge it and apologize. Allez, courage, ce sera vite oublié. As French singer Zazie says, Excuse-moi !

Moreover, if you’re finding joy in reading our free French vocabulary lessons via our blog, keep it up. You’ll round up your learning in so many ways – from hello’s, to goodbyes, and even some fun French slang.

À bientôt !

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