The Japanese are so polite that they end up apologizing for just about anything. So much so that there are thousands of ways to apologize in the Japanese language. Today we will see 23 ways to apologize.
There are different ways to apologize in Japan. It all depends on the severity of your mistake and your relationship with the person. A simple bump in Japan is reason to apologize. The Japanese apologize even without making any mistakes.
Remember that the translations to the letter can be quite strange as: I was Sad, I was Rude, I’m Sorry, Forgive me things like that. but the effect of the word in Japanese is quite different from the Portuguese translation.
Table of Contents - Sumimasen and Shitsurei - Gomen nasai e gomen ne - Formal ways to apologize - Other ways to apologize
Sumimasen and Shitsurei – Light Excuses
Sumimasen [すみません] is one of the most common words spoken in Japanese. I’m sorry It is often used as a mild apology. If you run into someone in the middle of the street or subway you can apologize by saying sumimasen [deshita].
- Sumimasen meaning: excuse me; pardon me; thank you (keigo);
Shitsurei [失礼] can be translated as “excuse me” but literally it’s rude, disrespectful and unkind, as if you are saying: I’m going to do something rude now I’m sorry. It is an informal and light apology. If you need to reach something at the dinner table you can say shitsurei.
- Shitsurei meaning: discourtesy; impoliteness; excuse me; goodbye; to leave; to be rude;
Shikkei [失敬] has the same meaning as shitsurei. It is mainly used by salaried workers. Young people do not usually use. The first time you say this, go with a group of employees.
Shitsureishimashita [失礼しました] is the formal version of shitsurei. In Japanese, the past tense often sounds more formal. It can be translated as “I was rude”. You can say that if you drop a drink at a dinner table.
Sumimasen Deshita [すみませんでした] is the formal past tense of sumimasen. Use this to apologize to your boss when you are caught sleeping in the park during working hours.
Suimasen [すいません] and Sunmasen [すんません] are other colloquial ways of apologizing with the same meaning as sumimasen but more regional and informal.
Sumima sen en [すみま千円] is a humorous and playful term for apologizing and forgiving. A pun using 1,000 yen [千 円] at the end of the sumimasen sentence.
Gomen Nasai e Gomen Ne
Gomen [ごめん] is a very informal form of excuse that should only be used with close friends and family. It is slang for gomenasai (short form). You can say gomen when you are 5 minutes late when you meet a friend.
Gomen ne [ごめんね] The ne in gomen serves to emphasize, identical to the portuguese “ne“, but sounds more feminine. Say Gomen ne when you are 5 minutes late in meeting your friends.
Gomenasai [ごめんなさい] means I’m sorry and sounds a little more formal, but don’t use it with everyone. In other words, don’t try to say gomenasai with your boss or higher level people. Use it when someone is mad at you.
Sumanai [済まない] may indicate something inexplicable, unjustifiable, unforgivable, an apology and thanks, pity and remorse. Young people often use suman [すまん] informally as if they were sorry.
Formal ways to Apologize in japanese
Moushiwake Gozaimasen deshita [申し訳ございませんでした] is a formal apology. You should only use it if you have done something very wrong. It can be used by the president of a company that launched a defective product.
Moshiwake arimasen deshita [申し訳ありませんでした] is an even more polite form. Use to apologize after your company launches a very dangerous defective product. It can literally mean literally: We are sorry.
Makoto ni moushiwake gozaimasen deshita [誠に申し訳ございませでした] is mostly used by a disgraced samurai and a ninja. Use this option when falling in love with a shogun’s daughter. A super formal way, keigo!
Other ways to apologize in Japanese
Owabishimasu [お詫びします] literally means excuses. It may sound like I apologize for it or I’m sorry for making this mistake.
Fukaku owabiitashimasu [深くお詫びいたします] is a more formal version of owabishimasu and means my deepest apology.
Kokorokara owabi moshiagemasu [心からお詫び申し上げす] literally means “sincere apologies from the bottom of the heart”. Used by a business manager who sincerely apologizes and that everything was the cause of his incompetence.
Ainiku [生憎] gives the idea of unfortunately or was not possible, but means forgiveness and apology. It is usually written in hiragana and is often used in the middle of sentences in longer expressions.
Saasen [サーセン] is an unusual way to say sorry or sorry.
Osoreiru [恐れ入る] is a verb that can mean to mourn, to apologize and to forgive. Literally the word means to be afraid.
- Soorii [ソーリー] from English “Sorry”;
- Ekusukyuiizumii [エクスキューズミー] from English excuse me;
I hope you enjoyed the article, if you liked leave your comments and share with friends. Do you know any other alternative to apologize in Japanese?