5 Easy Ways To Apologize In Japanese

Interested to know how to say ごめん (pronounced as gomen) or apologize in Japanese the right way? In today’s post, we will walk you through the expressions related to the deepest apologies that you can use in everyday life. After all, if there is one country where people love to say sorry, then that would definitely be Japan. Basically, they say it not because they committed something that’s truly offensive but because they do not want 迷惑 (pronounced as meiwaku) or to annoy anyone. So let’s learn more about that in this post.

When it comes to the concept of good manners and respect, no one knows it better than the Japanese people. Of course, there are some exceptions to that thought, but the majority of the Japanese people are indeed very polite to the point that they even say sorry at the smallest matter. In Japanese culture, the act of apologizing is a gateway in restoring harmony and balance while ensuring that no ill thoughts will be preserved. It may sound philosophical for some, but this is precisely the concept that is being passed down to young people even today.


The Concept Of Apology In The Japanese Culture

Apologize In Japanese

Stepped on someone’s foot or got yourself stuck in traffic and late for work? There are tons of Japanese phrases that you can use to show regret. But did you know that some of the common apology-related Japanese words are also used to mean other things? For instance, the Japanese word すみません or sumimasen  (along with a swift, deep bow) also doubles as the translation for saying “excuse me.” The same can be observed with the word 失礼 or shitsurei shimasu , which can mean anything between the three:

A. To say excuse me

B. To interrupt a conversation

C. Saying goodbye

D. Leaving your co-workers behind

What’s even trickier in the Japanese language is the fact that there are also some words that can have a negative connotation/meaning when spoken to certain individuals. As a rule of thumb, do remember that you should ALWAYS use the more formal version (may it be in structure or word choice) when apologizing with authority figures. On the contrary, you can easily say ごめんなさい or gomen nasai  to say sorry in Japanese in a very casual way among friends, family, and total strangers.

Unlike other languages, there are also instances wherein the people are also sorry in Japanese when appreciating someone. If you are giving an omiyage (gift), you can expect to hear words like 恐れ入りますor osoreirimasu  and 恐縮です or kyoushukudesu. These words are some of the most popular forms of apology (for the hassle of preparing/looking for a gift) that are also meant to show thanks for someone.


The Best Ways To Apologize In Japanese Language

The Best Ways To Apologize In Japanese Language

Aside from the classic gomen ne, there are five more ways that will seriously help you out when the time comes. Interested in saying thanks to your boss or someone who has more authority over you? Using 申し訳 ありま せん or mōshiwakeari ma sen  which directly translates to the sentence “there is no excuse for what happened.” This is a perfect type of formal apology that will work well, especially at work.

Another formal translation in the polite form is 恐れ入ります or osoreirimasuga which is an ideal way to express humbleness aside from simply apologizing. In addition, this can also be a phrase you can use if you are receiving praises from someone.

If you want a line which you can use when saying sorry to your friends or someone you are really close with, the younger generation and some of the locals use ごめん or gomen . You can also use this with strangers who are much younger than you.

For cases wherein you want to ask if it’s okay to disturb someone with a question or perhaps to market something, you can easily use おじゃま します or ojama shimasu. This word literally means “excuse me for disturbing you. ” This will also be handy if you find yourself having to visit a Japanese home. But if you want something that sounds a bit more impactful, you can easily use どうもすみません or dōmo sumimasen.


Wrapping Up

As we reach this part of the post, we hope that you were able to learn how to say I’m sorry in the most Japanese way (formal and casual) possible. You do not ever want to use other expressions as this might easily sound rude or offensive. As a rule of thumb, do remember that the Japanese people do put a high premium on the idea of forgiveness even for the littlest of trouble or favor. If you are planning to visit the country and have someone helping you out, don’t be afraid to thank them and also say sorry in Japanese.

If you enjoyed this post and figured that you would love to learn more, then now is the best time for you to consider reading our previous blog posts like how to greet a happy new year and the Japanese vocabulary for family. But if you are someone who is keen on truly mastering Japanese, then learning using the innovative application will never let you down. Discover more about its features in the section below.


Read To Master Words And Expressions Beyond The Japanese Apology?

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