All the ways to SAY “SORRY” in Italian!

As a famous song says, “sorry” seems to be the hardest word. But, without detracting from Elton John, isn’t it also a little bit trivial? To avoid this risk, today we will see many alternatives to apologize!

No more “SCUSA”! Here are all the alternatives!

Obviously there are various ways to apologize, and they depend on many factors: from the context, from what we have done and towards those who have done it. But let’s start with some expressions that are always a guarantee!

  • Mi dispiace (I’m sorry)
  • Perdonami (Forgive me)
  • Ti chiedo perdono (I ask your forgiveness)

These are actually perfect both for small things that are not too serious (for example if you break a glass at a friend’s house), and for something slightly more serious (for example, if you forgot to warn that you are late for an appointment).

Another alternative, in case you did something that gave unpleasant results, is:

  • Non avrei dovuto farlo (I shouldn’t have done that)

But be careful, because it could create a boomerang effect, instead of what you hoped for! In fact, many Italians could answer: “Then you should have thought better of it!”

However, if you have a reasonable person in front of you, they will certainly appreciate your sincere apologies.

  • È tutta colpa mia (It’s all my fault)

This expression serves not only to apologize, but also to demonstrate maturity: in fact it makes the other person understand that you are aware of your mistakes, and you cannot blame anyone else. After all, recognizing that we were wrong is the first step in making up for it!

  • Ti garantisco / prometto che non si ripeterà (I guarantee / promise you that it will never happen again)

This is another excellent expression to apologize, even combined with others already mentioned… the only problem is that it only works if you have a good reputation. In fact, if you have the reputation of not being able to keep promises, then it is better to not use it: no one would believe you anyway!

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  • Ammetto che a volte posso essere davvero un idiota (I admit that sometimes I can really be an idiot [or any other insult of your liking])

Well, what else to say… Self-offending and self-accusing sometimes works and makes the other person more willing to forgive!

  • Riconosco di avere esagerato (I recognize that I have exaggerated)
  • Riconosco di avere agito / reagito male (I recognize that I acted / reacted badly)

These are two other expressions that demonstrate maturity and awareness, and you can use them to apologize especially after doing or saying something that went beyond the limits.

  • Come posso rimediare? (How can I fix it?)

Among all, this is the only expression that goes beyond the mere excuse. With this, literally, you not only recognize an error and ask to be forgiven, but you offer to actually do something to remedy what you did!

Finally, when we are in a more formal context, perhaps with the boss in the office or with a doctor in the hospital, you can always apologize using:

  • Sono mortificato/a / amareggiato/a per l’accaduto (I am mortified / bitter about what happened)

These are very strong adjectives and they express how deeply saddened we are by what we have done.

Another formal expression, even more elaborate, could be:

  • Mi assumo tutte le responsabilità, ma spero che potremo metterci una pietra sopra (I take full responsibility, but I hope we can put a stone on it)

This is a formal version of “it’s my fault”, and allows you not only to apologize, but also to wish to “put a stone on” the incident, meaning that the other person can forgive you for the unpleasant episode and forget it, without talking about it anymore.

But be careful!

Remember that in formal contexts is always better to use the “lei” courtesy pronoun! So you can use all the apology expressions listed above, but if they contain a reference to the person you are talking to, remember to turn them to “lei”! For example:

Perdonami – Mi perdoni

Scusami – Mi scusi

Ti garantisco che non si ripeterà – Le garantisco che non si ripeterà

Now that you know all the ways to say “sorry”, you can also take a look at another very useful insight to speak fluently: all the alternatives to the back-and-forth “How are you?” “I’m fine!”.

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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