DON’T SAY “SORRY!” | Better English vocabulary | How to Apologise

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

STOP SAYING SORRY! 8 advanced ways to apologise for your mistakes (in both casual and formal situations)!

Improve your pronunciation & English expression by imitating a native English speaker!

Video Transcript
Section 1
Hello! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish. In today’s lesson, I’m going to share some different and more meaningful ways to say “Sorry!”

Now of course, it’s okay to say “I’m sorry”, when you make a mistake or you do something wrong, you can say “I’m sorry!” But “sorry” is really overused in English. It’s so overused that sometimes it can seem a little meaningless. You see, people use “sorry” all the time! They apologise all the time for lots of different reasons.

“Sorry I’m late!”
“Sorry, I forgot to bring the….”
“Oh! Sorry!”

And because of that, “I’m sorry” can feel a little less meaningful. Sometimes it can feel like you don’t really care or you’re just saying “sorry” because you feel like you have to, not because you actually mean it. So when you really need to say sorry for something that you’ve done, maybe a mistake that you’ve made or some problem that you’ve created, well then, it’s a good idea to use a stronger expression. Okay? To show that you really mean it.

And today, I’m going to share some more meaningful ways to say “I’m sorry”, some meaningful ways to apologise. Now, we’re going to give you a few different options to help you build your vocabulary so that your English sounds more sophisticated and more meaningful.

But if you want to improve your English pronunciation and natural expression, then I really recommend the mmmEnglish Imitation Lessons! All of the lessons there are focused on specific situations and you’ll learn not just what to say, but how to say it. And in English, it’s so important, especially when you’re trying to be genuine and real, it’s so important to change the tone of your voice and your facial expressions and your body language really helps to convey your message.

Now I created the mmmEnglish Imitation Lessons especially for my students to help them develop their pronunciation but also their natural expression. You’re going to be able to practise on your own at home, you don’t need a teacher or a speaking partner and you can practise your English speaking skills in your own time, whenever it suits you. So if you haven’t checked out the imitation lessons yet, grab the link in the description or you can head straight to the webpage right there!

So let’s focus on some different ways to say “I’m sorry”.

One of the hardest things about apologising is admitting that you’ve done something wrong. Socially, it can be quite an awkward situation. Right? It’s one that makes you feel a little uncomfortable.

Now, if we’re talking about a small problem that you created, perhaps you provided your colleague with some wrong information. It was an accident but still, you’re at fault. Then it’s absolutely fine to say:

My mistake

Just own it, you know? It was my mistake, I made the mistake. So you can actually say “Oh.. My mistake”, instead of saying “Sorry”.

My apologies

Now you can also say “My apologies”. My apologies, I made a mistake.

My bad!

But if you want to tone it down a little and you want to make it a little less formal then you can also say “My bad!” This has become a really common expression you use to admit that you did something wrong in less formal situations.

  • You’re late for the meeting! It started an hour ago!
  • Really? Oh, my bad! I didn’t have it in my calendar.

So it’s like, “Oops! Oh, that was my fault.” My mistake. You just own it, you know?

You don’t really need to say “Sorry” as well, you’re just claiming the mistake as yours.

And these are all great options if the problem you created is not a big one. Like, if you were supposed to make a booking for you and ten mates at a restaurant and you forgot and when you get there, there’s no room for you. That’s a good time to say “Oh, my bad!”

Don’t use “My bad” when the mistake is pretty big, like if you forgot to invite your grandma to your wedding. Don’t say “Oh, my bad!” That wouldn’t go down very well! It’s kind of a bigger problem than just “My bad”

I owe you an apology
I want to apologise (for something)

So in that situation, you would need something a little more meaningful, okay? “Sorry!” Or “My bad” just isn’t quite enough. So you could say, “Grandma, I owe you an apology.” or, “Grandma I want to apologise”. Alright?

Both of these expressions are used to show that you’re serious and that you’re genuine about your apology. They’re a little more formal so they show respect to the person that you’re talking to and they’re really useful in the workplace. Okay? In the office, when you need, you know, to sound professional and maybe a little bit more formal, than these are great options.

The other thing to keep in mind is that both of these expressions need an explanation. Why are you sorry? You could say: I want to apologise for something, right?

  • I want to apologise for my behaviour last night.
  • I want to apologise to someone.
  • I want to apologise to your sister.

Now, the difference between to and for here is super important. These little prepositions are a little tricky so, for the grammar rules and more examples about to and for, then I want you to check out this lesson right here.

It’s all about to and for and when to use them. But it’s important to explain why you’re apologising with these expressions.

Alright, let’s think of a more significant problem that maybe you created now. You might need to write a formal apology, you know, for your behaviour or for the behaviour of a family member. Something that you really regret. Or in a professional context, when your mistake has resulted in a significant problem for your customer or your company.

Well, in these situations you need more formal language that’s going to help you to express just how deeply sorry you are.

I sincerely apologise

  • I sincerely apologise for my behaviour, for my action, for the trouble that I’ve caused. Okay?

I take full responsibility

You could also say, “I take full responsibility for whatever’s happened.”

I’m embarrassed about…
I’m ashamed about…

Okay, now you might even take it one step further and say “I’m embarrassed about what has happened” or “I’m ashamed of my behaviour.” Or my brother’s behaviour. I’m really embarrassed.

Now, it’s more common to see these expressions used in written English, like in emails and letters, but in professional or quite formal situations, it’s acceptable to say these expressions directly to someone. Now don’t forget that these ways are, they’re quite formal and they’re quite serious ways to apologise.

So, if you’re a little bit late to class, it’s probably a bit too much to say:

I sincerely apologise for being late.
I take full responsibility for my actions.

But if you accidentally slept in and you missed your final exam, well, then this kind of language might actually be useful for you. You might be able to convince your professor that it was an honest mistake and maybe you can repeat the exam.

So I hope that you’ve learned some new expressions and phrases during that lesson to help you sound more sincere and more sophisticated when you apologise in English. Don’t forget that you can practise your natural English expression and pronunciation with me in the mmmEnglish Imitation Lessons. The link is in the description below and it’s really easy just to grab them and try them out. Thanks for watching this lesson. I will definitely see you in the next lesson.

Make sure you subscribe if you haven’t already! See you soon!

Links mentioned in the video

Related videos