Useful Language. Saying You're Sorry (Apologies, Apologizing)
For conversations and in writing
Podcast episode so you can listen & repeat! * Printer-friendly copy (2 pages)
Language note:"Sorry for" and "sorry about" are often possible in the same sentence
"Apologize, apologise" are both possible in both US American English and UK English, but in US English there's a tendency to use "apologize" and in UK English, "apologise".
Notice this: Pedir perdón = to say you are sorry, to apologize. This is like: Saludar, dar recuerdos = to say hello. Despedirse = to say goodbye. Dar la gracias = to say thank you. Say hello to her/ from me = salúdala de mi parte. Luisa says hello = saludos de Luisa. Finally, notice this: words in brackets can be used or omitted. Words in square brackets are my comments on context or the like.
Some general formal apologies
1. Sorry for any inconveniences caused [impersonal, formal]
2. I/We am sorry for any trouble I/we may have caused [formal]
Missing appointments and being late
3. Sorry about missing class today.
4. Sorry about not going to class lately.
5. I'm sorry about having missed my lessons lately.
6. I'm sorry about missing my classes lately, but I had to stay long hours at work. Then, one day, when I got to class, there was another teacher! I was all mixed up! I thought it was the wrong classroom!
7. [On your mobile, as you rush to a meeting] I'm so sorry! I won't be able to make it (on time). I'll be there in (about) 20 minutes. Sorry again!
8. I'm sorry about not making it on time. / Sorry about making you wait.
9. I would like to apologize for (my) being late. [formal]
10. I would like to apologize for failing to arrive on time… [formal, semiformal]
11. I would like to apologize for forgetting about our meeting/appointment.
12. Let me apologize/apologise for being so late. [Then you can give the person some flowers or a kiss, to show how much you care!]
13. Allow me to apologize/apologise for being late [more formal / polite than previous].
14. I'm sorry for taking so long to write back. [You can add things like: "I've been really busy lately / I was really busy last week. Non-stop busy!"]
15. I'm sorry for having taken so long to write back. [You can add: "I've been meaning to write to you for the last two weeks but never had the chance to do so!"]
16. Sorry about the delay.
17. Sorry about what I said [the other day, before].
18. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said that.
19. He apologized for his remarks.
20. I'm sorry about the things I said [yesterday…]
21. Sorry for my possible mistakes [writing in English]
22. I'm sorry about any mistakes I may have made!
23. Sorry for my possible mistakes in spelling/in grammar/…
24. Sorry for using the wrong word/spelling…
25. I'm sorry about the mistakes in my previous post! I was in a rush. I had no time to proofread/check it!
26. Sorry about that.
27. Sorry about last night!
28. Sorry for getting you into trouble!
29. My apologies. / My deepest apologies. / My most sincere apologies.
30. I'm sorry about what happened [past simple, finished, complete]
31. I'm sorry about what's happened [recent]
32. I'm sorry about that [something you just said or did].
33. I'm sorry about everything!
34. Sorry for forgetting. [Notice we use "-ing" after prepositions!]
35. Sorry about forgetting to bring the CD.
36. Sorry about losing your book. [Take out a new copy and offer it] Please, accept this new copy.
37. I'm writing this note to tell you how sorry I am for having forgotten to call you back the other day.
38. Sorry for getting you wet! [You spilled a glass of water on someone, or you splashed someone as you drove by, or…]
39. Some people never say they are sorry
40. Some people never apologize
About news you get
41. I'm sorry to hear that [pronoun: eso] [Siento mucho oír eso que me cuentas.]
Language note: the "that" in the previous sentence is the demonstrative pronoun "eso, aquello". The "that" in brackets in the next set of examples is a word you can use or omit because it is a conjunction -- a word that links two sentences. It's not a pronoun. It means "que" as in "me dijo que", this is, with no meaning inside. (There is another "that" which is a pronoun: the relative pronoun: that "that" can be used instead of "who" or "which". "The girl that (who) is laughing". Review relative clauses where the pronoun is the subject and where it is not and therefore is omitted.]
42. I'm sorry to hear (that)* you are not feeling well
43. I'm sorry to hear (that) you won't be coming [here/ to our next meet-up]
44. I'm sorry to hear (that) you missed your flight! / your train!
45. I'm sorry to hear (that) you are having problems at home
46. I'm sorry to hear (that) you were attacked/mugged
47. I'm sorry to hear (that) your house was burgled
48. I'm sorry to hear (that) your car was stolen
I'm sorry to hear about…
49. I'm sorry to hear about your situation
50. I'm sorry to hear about your kids being away [you miss your children and have explained that]
51. I'm sorry to hear about your job loss [you lost your job]
52. I'm sorry to hear about your exam results [your marks weren't too good or you failed]
53. I'm sorry to hear about your condition [you have some illness]
54. I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis and wish you a speedy recovery.
55. I'm sorry to hear about your bad back.
56. I'm sorry to hear about all your troubles [todos esos problemas que tienes]
57. I'm sorry to hear about your accident
58. I'm sorry to hear about your mother/father… [something happened to that person – illness, death, an attack…]
59. I'm sorry to hear about your sister's husband [something happened to the man who is married to your sister]
Related issues: expressing condolences
60. My condolences
61. This is to convey my deep condolences to you and your family.
62. I'm sorry to hear about your loss [someone died]
63. I'm sorry to hear your [relative, friend, lover] passed away.
Reacting to an apology
64. There's no need to apologize.
65. Please, don't apologize! :)
66. Never mind
67. Don't be sorry for that!
68. Please, don't worry
69. It's OK. Don't worry
70. It's OK. I understand
71. Never apologize for asking questions!
72. It's OK but please, be more careful next time.
73. It's OK but please, don't do it again.
74. Apologies accepted! [Reply to "My apologies" "Accept my apologies"]