ごめんなさい + 許して下さい。 ( = Gomennasai+Yurushite kudasai.) How to apologize in Japanese

gomennasai

:maggie-small: 「ゆかりのおやつも食べちゃいました…。ごめんね。」

Yukari no oyatsu mo tabechaimashita. Gomenne…

“I ate Yukari’s snack as well. Sorry! “

Yukari :「えっ!?許さない!」 

 = Eh? Yurusanai!

“What!? I won’t forgive you!”

In this lesson we will learn how to apologize in Japanese.

:ii: 謝 る= ayamaru = to apologize

:rrrr: • 謝りなさい!

= Ayamari nasai

= Apologize!

「謝って下さい!

= Ayamatte kudasai.

= Please apologize!

(The strongest command is 謝れ! ( = Ayamare!)  Apologize!! Hope you don’t hear this from anybody.. ;-) )

謝ります。

= Ayamarimasu

 I apologize.

The most common words to say “I’m sorry!” are,

 

すみません。

= Sumimasen

or

ごめんなさい。

= Gomennasai

(Note : すみません( = Sumimasen) is much lighter than ごめんなさい  ( = gomennasai). If you really need to apologize seriously, you should  use ごめんなさい ( = gomennasai))

:u:

more casual

• すいません。

= Suimasen

:rrrr: Note : Grammatically wrong but many people say this.

すまん。(for men , a little rough)

= Suman

=   Sorry!

ごめん。

= Gomen

 Sorry!

ごめんね。( a bit feminine but men can also use it casually)

= Gomenne

Sorry!

You can use them in casual situations.

For example, when you bump into someone, you can say,

「すみません

 = Sumimasen

= Excuse me! Sorry!

ごめんなさい。

= Gomennasai

I’m sorry.

失礼しました。

= Shitsurei shimashita.

Excuse me!

When you really want to apologize for something seriously, you also can say,

「すみません。

= Sumimasen

= I’m sorry.

すみませんでした。past tense

= Sumimasen deshita.

= I’m very sorry for what I did.

ごめんなさい。

= Gomennasai

= I’m sorry.

:u:

more polite

申し訳ありません。(formal)

= Moushiwake arimasen.

= I am so sorry.

申し訳ございません。(very formal)

= Moushiwake gozaimasen.

= I am deeply sorry.

申し訳ございませんでした。(past tense /very polite)

= Moushiwake gozaimasen deshita.

  I am truly sorry for what I did/have done/ what it happened.

*****************************
Sentence patterns:

~て( = ~te)  form  + すみません/ごめんなさい/申し訳ありません。….etc

= Sumimasen/Gomennasai/Moushiwake arimasen….etc.

• 遅れる ( = okureru) to be late

遅れて ( = okurete)

「遅れてすみません。」

= Okurete sumimasen.

Sorry I am late.

傷つける ( = kizutsukeru) to hurt someone/something

傷つけて ( = kizutsukete)

→Ex. 「君を傷つけてごめん!」

= Kimi wo kizutsukete gomen!

=  I am sorry that I hurt you. (male speech)

壊す ( = kowasu) to break something

壊して ( = kowashite)

→Ex.「マギー先生、おもちゃを壊してすみません。」

= Maggie sensei, omocha wo kowashite sumimasen.

= Maggie sensei, I am sorry I broke your toy!

〜してしまい/しまって(  = ~shite shimai/shimatte)

すみません/ごめんなさい/ 申し訳ありません。….etc

= Sumimasen/Gomennasai/Moushiwake arimasen….etc.

I am sorry to have+p.p.

 •遅れる( = okureru) to be late

遅れて ( = Okurete)

→Ex.「遅れてしまいすみません。」

= Okurete sumimasen. 

= Sorry I have been late.

傷つける ( = kizutukeru) to hurt someone/something

傷つけてしまい ( = kizutsukete)

→Ex.「君を傷つけてしまってごめん!」(male speech)

= Kimi wo kizutsukete shimatte gomen!

I am sorry that I have hurt you.

壊す ( = kowasu) to break something

壊して ( = kowashite)

→Ex.「マギー先生、おもちゃを壊 してしまってすみません。」

= Maggie sensei, omocha wo kowashite shimatte sumimasen.

= Maggie sensei, I am sorry to have broken your toy!

Typical phrase:

1) •迷惑をかける ( = meiwaku wo kakeru) to trouble someone

:u:  more polite

ご迷惑をおかけしました。(past tense)

= Gomeiwaku wo okake shimashita.

= “I am sorry that I troubled you.”

*迷惑をかけてごめんね。(casual)

= Meiwaku wo kakete gomenne

Sorry that I troubled you.

:u:  more polite

迷惑をかけてごめんなさい/すみません。/すみませんでした (past tense)

= Meiwaku wo kakege gomennasai/sumimasen/sumimasen deshita.

=“I am sorry that I troubled you.”

:u:  more polite

*御迷惑をおかけして申し訳ありませんでした。

= Gomeiwaku wo okake shite moushiwake arimasen deshita.

“I am very sorry that I troubled you.”

Ex.「皆様にご迷惑をおかけして本当に申し訳ございませんでした。」

= Minasama ni gomeiwaku wo okakeshite hontou ni moushiwake gozaimasen deshita.

I am sincerely sorry to have caused everyone all this trouble.

Culture Note: You’ll hear this quote often in celebrity interviews when they cause some big problem.

Whenever I hear this line in a divorce interview, I wonder why they apologize for their own divorce…

2) 面倒をかける ( = mendou wo kakeru )  to trouble someone

面倒をかけて( = mendou wo kakete)

ご面倒をおけして申し訳ございません。(formal)

= Gomendou wo okakeshite moushiwake gozaimasen.

= I am sorry to trouble you.

3) 心配をかける ( = shinapai wo kakeru)

心配をかけて  ( = shinpai wokakete )

:rrrr: (casual)「心配(を)かけてごめんね

= Shinapi (wo) kakete gomenne.

Sorry to make you worry!

:rrrr: (formal) ご心配をおかけして申し訳ございません。

= Goshinpai wo okakeshite moushiwake gozaimasen.

:k: 詫びる(=wabiru)

a noun 詫び ( = wabi)  apology

詫び状  ( = wabijou) / お詫び状   ( = Owabi jou ) =apologetic letter

Ex.  お詫びの言葉  ( = owabi no kotoba ) a word of apology

Ex. お詫びの言葉もありません。

= Owabi no kotoba mo arimasen.

= I don’t know how to apologize…

(more polite)

お詫び申し上げます。

= Owabi moushiagemasu.

Ex.心からお詫び申し上げます。

= Kokoro kara owabi moushiagemasu.

Please accept my sincere apology.

Ex.なんとお詫びを申し上げてよいのやら…

= Nanto owabi wo moushiagete yoino yara…

I don’t know how to apologize…

Ex.この度はご心配をおかけしてお詫びの言葉もありません。

= Kono tabi wa goshinpai wo okakeshite owabi no kotoba mo arimasen.

I am sorry to make you worry. I don’t know how to apologize properly.

:qq: 許す ( = yurusu) is to forgive 

→ Its noun form is 許し ( = yurushi)

*許しを乞う

= yurushi wo kou

= to beg someone’s pardon

• 許して下さい。

= yurushite kudasai.

= Please forgive me.

•どうかお許し下さい。

= Douka oyurushi kudasai.

= Will you forgive me, please?

お許し頂けないでしょう か?

= Oyurushi itadakenai de shouka?

Will you forgive me?

When you want to cover for someone,

:rrrr: Ex. ここは、私の顔に免じてどうか お許し下さい。

= Kokowa watashi no kao ni menjite douka oyurushi kudasai.

Please forgive him/her for my sake here.

!gejigeji! *勘弁して下さい。( = Kanben shite kudasai.)  Please forgive me. 

勘弁して! ( = kanben shite) also means  “Give me a break!””Come on!”)

When you want to apologize deeply, you have to lower your head.

頭を下げる

= Atama wo sageru

= to lower your headto apologize

平謝りする

= Hiraayamari suru

humbly beg one’s pardon

土下座して謝る (An old fashioned way of apologizing .)

= Dogeza shite ayamaru

=to apologize kneeling down on the ground. 

Personally I only see this type of apologizing on TV drama or movies.

この通り謝りますので(お許し下さい。)

= Kono toori ayamari masu node  (oyurushi kudasai.)

= Please forgive me. (I apologize like this (and lower your head.))

この通りです!

= Kono toori desu

= Please forgive me. ( I apologize like this (and lower your head.))

(Very exaggerated way of apology. We see it on TV dramas. but I have never seen anybody who does….)

Note : Here’s an extreme explanation ofjoke 土下座  ( = dogeza) video!

:u:


 

<Formal situations such as business or politics>

•陳謝する ( = chinsha suru) to express one’s apology

Ex. 大臣は今回の不祥事について陳謝をした。

= Daijin wa konkai no fushouji ni tsuite chinsha wo shita.

The minister apologized for the scandal.

•謝罪する ( = shazai suru)  to apologize  

Ex. 彼からの謝罪の言葉がない

= Kare kara no shazai no kotoba ga nai.

There are no words of apology from him.

Ex.責任者は謝罪すべきだ。

= Sekininsha wa shazai subeki da

The person in charge should apologize.

<Other useful sentences for apology>

Ex. わたしのせいでごめんなさい。

= Watashi no sei de gomennasai.

I’m sorry. It was my fault.

Ex.このあいだは失礼しました。

= Kono aida wa shitsurei itashimashita.

I’m sorry for the other day.

Ex.そんなつもりはありませんでした。

= Sonna tsumori wa arimasen deshita.

I didn’t really mean that.

Ex. 悪気は全くありませんでした。

= Warugi wa mattaku arimasen deshita.

I didn’t mean it at all.

Ex. わざとではありませんでした。

= Waza to dewa arimasen deshita.

I didn’t mean it.

Ex.心から反省しています。

= Kokoro kara hansei shiteimasu.

I’m sincerely sorry for what I did.

<If someone apologizes to you and you want to forgive that person>

(casual)  大丈夫!

= Daijoubu

It’s OK!/  I’m OK!

:rrrr: (polite)  大丈夫です。

= Daijoubu desu.

= It’s OK!/  I’m OK!

(casual) 心配しないで!

= Shinpai shinaide

Don’t worry!

:rrrr: (polite) ご心配なく

= Goshinpai naku

=  Please don’t worry about it.

( polite) 心配しないでもいいですよ。

=Shinpai shinakutemo iidesu yo.

=You don’t need to worry about it.

:rrrr: (more polite)

• もうご心配なさらないで下さい。

= Mou goshinpai nasaranai de kudasai.

Please don’t worry about it.

•  あなたが悪いのではありません。

= Anata ga warui nodewa arimasen

It’s not your fault.

• あなたのせいではありません

= Anata no sei dewa arimasen

It’s not your fault.

• 誰のせいではありません。

= Dare no sei dewa arimasen

It’s nobody’s fault.

(casual) 全然気にしていないから。

= Zenzen ki ni shite inai kara.

(polite)  全然気にしていませんから。

= Zenzen kini shite imasen kara.

= I don’t mind at all.

構いません。

=Kamaimasen.

= I don’t mind.

(casual) 大したことじゃないから

=Taishita koto ja nai kara

= It’s not a big deal so…(don’t worry about it)

(polite) 大したことではありませんから。

= Taishita koto dewa arimasen kara.

It’s not a big deal. (So please do not worry about it.)

(casual)もういいよ!

= Mou iiyo

= Don’t worry! / That’s enough.

(polite) 

もういいですよ

= Mou iidesuyo.

いいんですよ

= Iindesu yo.

It’s OK now. (Don’t worry about it.)

(casual) 

今度から気をつければいいから。

= Kondo kara ki wo tsukereba ii kara.

Just be careful the next time.

(casual) もう忘れて!

= Mou wasurete!

= Just forget about it now. / Just don’t worry about it.

(polite) もう忘れて下さい。

 = Mou wasurete kudasai

Forget about it already!


From the pic. above:

:maggie-small:  「ゆかりのおやつも食べちゃいました…。ごめんね。」

= Yukari no oyatsu mo tabechaimashita. Gomenne…

“I ate Yukari’s snack as well. Sorry! “

おやつ ( = oyatsu) snack, sweets

も  ( = mo) particle as well, too  (as in 私も watashi mo(me too)).

食べちゃいました (  = tabechaimashita) casual ← 食べてしまいました。( = tabete shimaimashita.) I have eaten.

Yukari :「えっ!? 許さない!」

= Eh? Yurusanai!

“What!? I won’t forgive you!”

許さない! ( = Yurusanai!) 私は、マギーを許さない( = Watashi wa Maggie wo yurusanai ) I won’t forgive, you, Maggie.

 

maggie-senseiマギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori =  From Maggie Sensei

悪かったけどやっぱり美味しかったから食べるの止まらなかったわ。もっとおやつどこかにないかしら..

= Warukatta kedo yappari oishikatta kara taberu no tomaranakatta wa. Motto oyatsu dokoka ni nai kashira…

I felt bad but after all I couldn’t stop eating because it was sooo good! I wonder if there are some more snacks somewhere around here…




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40 Comments

  1. Konnichiwa Maggie Sensei,

    I am Sorry to bother, but I really want to sincerely apologize for not being able to finish a project(work related) I’ve promised my Japanese friend and his family. I know this my sound silly but I truly feel bad for the fact I cannot manage to keep this promise. I want them to know how sorry I am and how bad i feel that I cannot say in person.
    I used to stay in Japan for High school and have adopted the sincerity of how Japanese people treat others’ feeling with care, just haven’t been confronted with this kind of situation before so I don’t really know how to fix this.
    Please if you don’t mind helping me out, Thank you very much in advance.

    Suku Yo

    :cry:

    1. @Yo

      Hello Yo,
      Are you thinking about writing a letter to them?
      I am not sure what kind of project but if you tell them why you didn’t do it and show your sincerity, I am sure they will forgive you.

      If you haven’t talked to then for a long time.
      For example you can start…
      ご無沙汰(ぶさた)しています。 Long time no see.
      お元気でいらっしゃいますか? How have you been?
      今日は、ずっと謝(あやま)らなければいけないと思っていることがあったので手紙を書きます。
      I am writing to you today because there is something that I have wanted to apologized to you for a long time
      ====

      あの時(とき)約束(やくそく)をした〜〜〜をすることができなくて本当にごめんなさい。
      = I am so sorry that I couldn’t keep my promise doing ~~~ that time.

      どうぞお許しください。
      = Please forgive me.

      Just an idea.

  2. Hello! How do you say “I am sorry for the inconvenience we have caused, please accept this Sake as a gift” thank you

    1. @CHar

      ご迷惑をおかけして申し訳ありません。(more polite 申し訳ございません。)
      お詫びにこちらのお酒をお受け取りください。

  3. Sensei, thank you for your lessons! I was wondering if you could tell me how to say “I’m sorry too”, to someone who is apologizing to you?

    Thank you very much! :)

    1. @Kaidyn

      Hi Kaidyn,

      I am sorry too.
      You can say
      こちらこそごめんなさい。(= Kochira koso gomen nasai) (neutral both men and women can use)
      私こそごめんなさい。 (= Watashi koso gomen nasai) (female)
      僕こそごめん (= Boku koso gomen) (male)

  4. Hi Maggie Sensei,

    I was wondering what the difference between using
    Okureru and osoi is when being late? Initially I thought osokunatte was used for objects only but I have heard people scold others for being late using osoi.

    Thank you for clearing this up :3

    1. @nicole

      Hi nicole
      osoi is an adjective and it means “slow”/ “late”
      Ex. Osoi kuruma = slow car
      Ex. Watashi wa aruku no ga osoi.
      = I walk slowly.
      (The directly translation is “my walking is slow.”

      Now okureru means “to be late”
      Ex. Kurasu ni okueru.
      = To be late to the class.
      Ex. Jikan ni okureru.
      = To be late (in time).

      ” I am sorry I am late” in Japanese is “Osoku natte gomennasai.”
      If you apologize for walking slowly, you say
      Aruku no ga osokute gomennasai.

      Ex.

    1. @tin

      (どうぞ)あやまらないでください。
      = (Douzo) ayamaranai de kudasai.

      Between friends
      あやまらなくていいよ。
      = Ayamaranakute iiyo.

  5. Hi Maggie. Relationship troubles! How do I say and write to my long-time middle-aged Japanese girlfriend “I’m really sorry that I let you down so badly” followed by “I really appreciate all that you’ve done for me.”
    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! CW

    1. @Cabin W

      Hi Cabin,
      Uh-oh…relationship problem….
      “I’m really sorry that I let you down so badly”
      to let someone down in Japanese is がっかりさせる・失望(しつぼう)させる
      So the translation will be
      がっかりさせてしまって本当にごめんなさい。
      失望させてしまって本当にごめんなさい。

      This kind of message is very sensitive.
      But personally if you use the word such as がっかり or 失望(=disappointment) , it may sound strong.

      Here are other options…

      もし傷つけてしまったらごめんなさい。
      ( I am sorry if I hurt you.)

      Or I assume you already wrote a sentence that you can’t be with that lady anymore. If so, I would avoid using these negative terms and just say 本当にごめんなさい。

  6. Sensei,

    By my unintentional actions I have troubled a young woman. I tried apologizing with words but due to miscommunication and misunderstanding, I made her even more annoyed. She is a Caucasian American married to a Japanese man. I was hoping after some time has passed that I would confront them and perform a dogeza before them to show honor and respect towards them both. Would this be all right to do or unnecessary? And what do I say while performing this act of apology?

    1. @Christopher

      Hi Christopher
      I don’t know what happened but as you said if you did something unintentionally and they are still angry because of miscommunication, then just apologize sincerely one more time.
      In my opinion Dogeza is a very old fashioned and too dramatic. You don’t need to do that.
      Hope you make peace with them soon…

  7. Dear Sensei,

    When I first learnt Japanese, my teacher taught me that Gomennasai is a more formal version of Sumimasen. However, it seems (from online resources) that gomennasai is more casual/childish? I recently inconvenienced my dorm manager by forgetting to tell her I was back home so she had to make a call to my room to ask for me. I apologised with Gomennasai and I have been worrying about it ever since because I am afraid it is too casual for the situation. Please help me in this issue. My dorm manager is older than me and we are not well acquainted yet, so in my mother tongue, I feel the need to apologise formally but I am confused about the degrees and nuances in Japanese. Please help to explain this for me!

    Thank you very much for your wonderful website. I will be learning a lot from it.

    Sincerely,
    Hal

    1. @Hayley

      Hello, Hal! Thank you for visiting our site.
      Yes, it’s true. Gomennasai is more serious than Sumimasen. (I added the information in the lesson.)
      But the way you say is very important,too. If you apologize sincerely, either one works. So I don’t think you offended your dorm manager.
      Not just saying ごめんなさい or すみません、I would add 本当に(=hontouni)
      Ex. 本当にすみませんでした。
      Ex. 本当にごめんなさい。

      And follow up saying things like,
      これから気をつけます
      = Kore kara kiwotukemasu.
      = I will be careful from now on.
      etc.

  8. I’ve heard that if you borrow an object and it breaks, even if you did not break it (e.g. it was old and stopped working by itself) it is polite to say “kowashite shimaimasita” and apologize. For example, you borrow a heater from your landlord and it stops working. Any thoughts on this? When would it be appropriate, when would it not be appropriate? We don’t want the Japanese person to misunderstand and think that we really broke the thing.

    1. @Steve

      OK, 壊してしまいました(= Kowashite shimaimashita) is when you actually broke something. If you are using some device or machines and it stopped working by itself, you say

      使っていたら動かなくなりました。(= Tsukatte itara ugokanaku narimashita.)

      If you haven’t even touched it and it broke by itself.

      何もやっていないのに、動かなくなりました。 ( = Nanimo yatte inainoni ugokanaku narimashita.)

  9. Thank you for the lesson, Maggie-sensei! ^__^ Your lessons are always full of useful information.

    〜してしまい/しまって(=~shite shimai/shimatte)+すみません/ごめんなさい/ 申し訳ありません。

    Can I say here
    〜してしまいまして instead of してしまい? Which is used more often?

    1. @Mika

      Hi Mika!
      Yes, although してしまい・してしまって are more common, you can say 〜してしまいまして申し訳ございませんでした。
      It sounds more formal you usually don’t use it with すみません or ごめんなさい.
      Also you can separate the sentence.
      〜してしまいました。大変申し訳ございませんでした。・ご迷惑を御かけ致しました。etc.

    1. @marisacmc11

      Hello!
      Object 遅くなってごめんなさい。
      = Object osoku natte gomennasai.
      OK, for example, if you give a late Christmas present, you say
      Ex. クリスマスプレゼント遅くなって*ごめんなさい。
      = Kurisumasu purezento osoku natte gomennasai.
      Or *ごめんね(=gomenne) between friends

  10. m kinda sick today so m staying in and I thought “Let’s look for some good lessons on Maggie sensei’s website!” hehe
    “Whenever I hear this line in a divorce interview, I wonder why they apologize for their own divorce…”LOL! could it be cause they are supposed to be 元気 and divorce is not a 元気 topic so they “troubled” people with a non 元気 thing? lol just guessing :)

    1. @Aki

      Are you OK? I hope you feel better now.
      If you don’t feel good, you have to apologize to me because you are not 元気! :)

  11. Hello Maggie :>

    I’m actually a newbie to Japanese, thank you so much for great lessons :D

    They’re very helpful! And me (14), and my older brother (16) benefit a lot from this amazing website ^___^ .

    1. @Jessie

      Thank you for visiting this site and leaving a comment! Wow! 14 years?? It is so nice to hear young people like you and your brother are learning Japanese.
      Please feel free to ask me any questions using the comment section or twitter (Maggiesensei) gambatte! :)

  12. Dear Yukari san, my favorite sansei online:

    Tiffany desu! I won’t be asking questions in Japanese, coz the amount of mistakes I make is embarrassing!:]

    My question today is, you wrote おやつ here, and I saw it somewhere in Kanji: 御八つ. Is there a reason why they are written differently? Does that change the context of the sentence?? Can you also write this word in Katakana? And if you do, does it change the meaning?

    Lastly, thank you for being so patient with me, answering every of my question in depth, and correcting all my mistake Japanese:]

    1. @Tiffany

      Good question! We used to write oyatsu as 御(お)八つ. Because we had snack at 八つ時=yatsudoki= at 14:00 in old days. (The common snack time in modern day is around 15:00.)
      The meaning is the same but we rarely use kanji now. We also write in katakana, オヤツ=oyatsu and it means the same thing.
      Writing words in Katakana makes them look more colloquial.
      What kind of おやつ do you like?

      I still make tons of English mistakes as you can see. :D I believe we can learn a lot from our mistakes.
      I only correct mistakes here for LOVE boucingheart! and I think you have been doing great! !Japanese smile!

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