Unfortunately, there might be times when you will have to apologize for something in English, no matter how hard you try not to rub people up the wrong way. We live in a world where it is almost impossible not to offend or upset somebody, so arm yourself with these useful phrases. Once again, as you can see in my previous posts about starting a conversation or saying ‘you’re welcome’, there are many different ways to apologize. Below are 5 of my favourites:

  1. A formal way to say sorry is I owe you an apology. It may seem like a strange way to say sorry because it’s almost as if you’re promising to do it but not quite yet. Don’t worry as it is a perfectly acceptable way to apologize.
  2. My bad has become very popular in the last few years. You’re bound to have heard it on the television or in a movie, especially if they’re American. This can very easily be misconstrued as being sarcastic or rude, so take special care to use the correct intonation and tone.
  3. Pardon is used in many ways to apologize. You can say I beg your pardon or just pardon, when bumping into somebody accidentally, for example. Just take note that these phrases, when used with emphasis, can also mean that you are disgusted with somebody’s behaviour. Once again, tone is everything!
  4. I was out of order is another strange phrase used to say sorry. Once again, this is quite popular in the US but less so in the UK or South Africa.
  5. Lastly, by admonishing yourself you can clearly show that you are sorry for your actions. I’m an idiot or I’m a doofus are both used to show that you know what you have done is silly or wrong.

I hope that you will have very little need to apologize in English. But if the need does arise, always be sincere and polite, especially when the fault is yours.