top of page

Saying Sorry in Japanese

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

こんにちは, Japanese Learners! Welcome back to Teach Me Japanese.

Today, we are going to learn how to apologize in Japanese. There are many ways

to express your regrets in Japanese with varying levels of politeness and we will

discuss them all here.

Let’s get started! (๑→ܫ←)

Starting out on the polite side of the “sorry” spectrum, ごめんなさい is polite/formal

and can be used with anyone.

All of the ways of saying sorry in this post can also be used in conjunction with

て form. (Lesson on て form here)

ごめん is very casual and, therefore, can only be used with friends/family. Using

ごめん with people you don’t know very well or people of a higher “status” than

you is very rude.

With て form:

すみません, or, more common in spoken Japanese,すいません, means “excuse me”, but can also be used as a polite apology. Alone, it can mean excuse me, I’m sorry, or thank you.

Deducing the meaning means you have to pay attention to the context of the situation.

Let’s say you accidentally bump into someone at the grocery store:

What if you want to pass someone who is blocking your way?

Say you drop your pencil and someone picks it up for you.

Of course, すみません can also be used in conjunction with て form.

You can use the past form すみませんでした。 for an action that has already

happened. In my experience, it seems to add a little extra layer of seriousness/


すまん or すまね is the informal version of すみません, and is mainly used by


With て form:

わるい means the same as すまん and ごめん, but like すまん is used mainly by


With て form:

もうしわけないです / もうしわけありません is a very formal way of saying sorry,

and carries more feeling behind it than すみません.

You can replace ありません with the more formal ございません for an even more

polite apology.

With て form:

Like すみません, もうしわけありません can also be used in the past form to apologize for something that has been done.


And that’s it for today’s lesson!! We apologize for the long break but we hope to bring you lots of new and fun lessons in the very near future. Subscribe to our email list for updates!

Still looking for a good textbook? We here at TMJ highly recommend Genki 1 and 2 for beginners, and Tobira for intermediate to advanced learners.

As always, 頑張ってね!(✿╹◡╹)


82 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

*This post contains affiliate links. Learn more here* こんにちは, Japanese Learner’s! Welcome back to Teach Me Japanese. Today we are going to be discussing potential form in Japanese. Knowing potential fo

Teach Me Japanese Recommends:

bottom of page