Language tip of the week: apologize

Posted by on February 07, 2012

In this weekly microblog, we bring to English language learners more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary. These tips are based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc) which learners often find difficult.

This week’s language tip helps with ways in which you can apologize or accept an apology.

Ways of apologizing
Sorry / I’m sorry:  the usual way of apologizing to someone you know well
I do apologize for… : a more polite and formal way of apologizing, used especially when you feel responsible for something that someone else has done
Excuse me: used when apologizing for something you did accidentally
I beg your pardon: a more formal way of apologizing for something you did accidentally
I/​We owe you an apology: used when you realize you have treated someone badly, for example by blaming them for something that is not their fault
Please accept my/​our apologies: used when making a written or formal apology
I/​We regret…:  used when making an apology in an official announcement
Examples:
I’m sorry I’m late, Amy. I missed the train.  ♦  I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear what she said.
I do apologize for Julie’s behaviour. She’s normally so reliable.
Oh,  excuse me, I didn’t see you standing there.
I beg your pardon, I didn’t mean to interrupt.
We’ve discovered who the thief was, and it seems we  owe you an apology.
We accept that this was the company’s fault and  ask you to accept our sincere apologies.
My apologies if I have offended you in any way.
We regret to announce that tonight’s performance of ‘La Traviata’ has been cancelled.
Ways of accepting an apology
That’s quite all right / There’s no need to apologize: used when telling someone that you do not mind what they have done
No problem: used when telling someone you know well that you do not mind what they have done
Examples:
‘I’m sorry I’m late.’ ‘ That’s quite all right, I’ve only been waiting for a minute.’  ♦  There’s no need to apologize, it was an easy mistake to make.
‘I’m sorry I can’t help you.’ ‘ No problem, I’ll ask Rory.’

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