You may have been friends with someone for years, but it only takes a second to damage that friendship with the wrong word or two. Now that you’ve made the mess, it’s time to clean it up with a well chosen apology. There are different ways to say you’re sorry, of course.
Let’s examine the words and a few of the situations they’re most suited for. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in too many of these jams, but let’s face it. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes—whether it’s breaking a window or forgetting you were supposed to meet someone for that Valentine’s Day lunch. Whoops. Pro Tip: don’t forget to be sincere when saying you’re sorry.
You’re expressing regret for your actions. Sorry means “feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, pity.” Emotion comes into play with this one when it’s used as a verbal cue. If you just backed into someone’s car, you hop out and say it with a lot of emphasis. Or, if you merely bump someone on the subway as you head for the door, proper etiquette dictates you simply nod and give a quick sorry as you exit. No need to belabor that one. Depending on the situation, adding words extremely or sincerely may help (and if you’re using those additional words, then yes—get flowers or candy on the speed dial, it’s better late than never).
Elton John thinks this word is a tough one.
Pretty much in line with number one on our list, when you apologize, you “offer an apology or excuse for some fault, insult, failure, or injury.” This word is used in formal situations, but is equally at home in an informal context.
It’s All My Fault
You’re drawing deep from the well of sincerity here. You’re taking all the blame; you’re all in. You’re confessing one’s faults.
If you use the word regret in an apology statement, it sounds a bit too formal and seems rather, oh what’s the word—insincere? Then again, inflection and circumstance come into play. In the World Wars, the military would send telegrams to families who lost loved ones, using this phrase. There’s no doubt they were sincere, and it brought them straight to the point.
We cite beg pardon as “an expression of apology (used especially in the phrase with no beg-pardons).” However, this one seems a bit off the mark, does it not? The phrase I beg your pardon seems more useful when used as a statement of indignation when someone cuts in front of you in the movie line. So…maybe you’re not actually sorry (ending the phrase with an upward inflection is key). 1960s singer Lynn Anderson never promised anyone a rose garden, so she went on begging people’s pardon’s all the way to the top of the pops.
I’m Sorry (Textspeak Version)
This being 2017 and all, we’re adding some versions you can use in phone messenger form. If you’d like to tap something appropriate (you’re still too scared or too busy to meet them face to face) SMSTXTs suggests: apologies r in order and then add whatever transgression has been committed: 4 ruining ur day, 4 making u feel bad, 4 always being late, 4 not showing up, etc.
Quite popular as an informal way of getting yourself off the hook, my bad works wonders. You admit it, it’s done, let’s move on, not a big deal.
You’ve really gone and done it. You’re not even in the doghouse anymore—Fido kicked you out of there, too. Our top reference to forgive is “to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.”
Throwing you a curve with this one, of course. Try it sometime, maybe in something like the following situation. According to The Muse, “If someone points out a small typo in the rough draft of a presentation you put together or helps you wipe up some coffee you spilled on the conference table, a ‘thanks’ is more in order than a ‘sorry.’ Neither situation is dire, and showing someone you appreciate the help is better than having his or her confidence in you diminished.”
I’m Sorry (Emoji Version)
If you just can’t find the right words (even after reading the rest of this list) maybe firing off a few choice emoji would work better for you. Be our guest.