7 Expressive Ways to Say “Sorry” in Japanese!

7 Expressive Ways to Say Sorry in Japanese!

Each language has their own way of saying things that is not always the case in other languages. Like this, did you know that there are so many expressions meaning “sorry” in our language, Japanese? Here, I would like to introduce some interesting phrases to say “sorry” in Japanese!



 

7 Expressive Ways to Say “Sorry” in Japanese!

 

1. Gomennasai / ごめんなさい

This is the most well-known translation of “Sorry” –we use this when apologizing. Although you can use “ごめんなさい (Gomennasai) ” to almost anyone, there are some variations depending on who you are apologizing to. When saying sorry to your friends, you can say “ごめん (Gomen) ” –this is very casual form, so don’t use it to your boss. To people whom you have to show respect to, you should use “申し訳ありません (Moushiwakearimasen)” or “申し訳ございません (Moushiwakegozaimasen)”. The latter form is more polite –and these forms are categorized as 敬語 (Keigo), which is a polite form. Another phrase to apologize in a relatively polite way is “すみません (Sumimasen)” –but this has another meaning like “excuse me”. So it would be better to use one of the phrases I mentioned other than “すみません (Sumimasen)” when you would like to apologize to someone in Japan.

 

2. Koukaisuru / 後悔する(こうかいする)

Another meaning of “Sorry” is “regret” –which is “後悔する (こうかいする) (Koukaisuru)” in Japanese. In a daily conversation, we often say “後悔してる (Koukaishiteru)” or just “後悔 (Koukai)” to express the feeling. But a lot of times, however, we don’t clearly say “後悔する(Koukaisuru)”. Instead, many Japanese people tend to say “…しておけば(しなければ)よかった (…Shiteokeba (Shinakereba) Yokatta)” which means “I wish I did (didn’t) …”. In either way, you should be careful about whom you are talking with. When having conversation with your friends, it is okay to say “後悔してるんだ (Koukaishiterunda)”, “後悔 (Koukai)”, and/or “…しておけば(しなければ)よかった (…Shiteokeba (Shinakereba) Yokatta)” but when talking with your teacher, try to say “後悔しています (Koukaishiteimasu)” and/or “…しておけば(しなければ)よかったです (…Shiteokeba (Shinakereba) Yokattadesu)” to show some respect.

 

3. Zannenda / 残念だ(ざんねんだ)

This is a bit similar to “後悔する (Koukaisuru)”. The meaning of kanji “残 (る) (Noko(ru))” is “left” and kanji “念 (Nen)” means “will” –so this is originally showing that someone left something that he/she couldn’t do –meaning “Penitent”. “残念だ (Zannenda)” can be used to show that you regret something. But rather than that, it is much more common to express your feeling of blow. For example, we use “残念だ (Zannenda)” in a sentence like “I’m sorry that he cannot come to the party (彼がパーティに来られなくて残念です/ Kare ga party ni korarenakute zannen desu)”. Here, I used “残念です (Zannen desu)” instead of “残念だ(Zannenda)” to be politer. When talking with your friends, it is okay to say “残念だ (Zannenda)” and/or just “残念 (Zannen)” while you should put “です (desu)” at the end when being with your boss.

 

4. Kinodokuda / 気の毒だ(きのどくだ)

This phrase shows the feeling of pity –usually not feeling pity for yourself but for someone in an unlucky/bad situation. This expression is very interesting since it uses the kanji of “毒(どく/ doku)” which means “poison” –so the meaning of pity originally came from “poison” for “feelings”. There are other ways to express the same meaning such as “かわいそうだ (Kawaisouda)”, and “哀れむ (Awaremu)”. These are all casual form –so when being with your friends, you can say like “気の毒だよね (Kinodoku dayone)” or “かわいそうだと思う(Kawaisouda to omou)”. But when having conversation with your professor, put “です (desu)” or ”ます (masu)” and say “気の毒に思います (Kinodoku ni omoimasu)” or “かわいそうに思います(Kawaisou ni omoimasu)” to show respect.

 

5. Kanashii / 悲しい(かなしい)

悲しい (Kanashii) has relatively closer meaning to the English word “Sad”. And it is sometimes hard to differentiate from “sorry” which means “残念だ (Zannenda)”. However, while “残念だ (Zannenda)” is more likely to show blow and regret, “悲しい (Kanashii)” express sadness and unhappiness. For instance, we tend to use 悲しい instead of 残念だ (Zannenda) in this kind of conversation; ”I’m sorry to hear that her grandpa passed away (彼女のおじいさんが亡くなったと聞いて悲しいです/ Kanojo no Ojiisan ga Nakunatta to Kiite Kanashii desu)”. Like this, when you use “悲しい (Kanashii)”, you might feel more emotionally sorry compared to “残念だ (Zannenda)”. Furthermore, when you say “sorry saga” and/or “sorry story”, these “sorry” mean “悲しい (Kanashii)” in Japanese as well. Moreover, don’t forget to put “です (desu)” and say “悲しいです (Kanashii desu)” when you have to show respect.

 

6. Ochikomu / 落ち込む(おちこむ)

Compared to “気の毒だ (Kinodokuda)” I wrote above, “落ち込む (Ochikomu)” are more likely to mean “feeling sorry for oneself”. In this situation, the subject of “落ち込む (Ochikomu)” must feel blue and down pretty much. For example, we use “落ち込む(Ochikomu)” in this kind of situation; “I was scolded by my teacher so many times today… I feel sorry for myself (今日は先生に何度も怒られて落ち込んでいるんだ/ Kyou wa Sensei ni nandomo okorarete ochikondeirunda)”. Although the original form is “落ち込む (Ochikomu)”, you can say ”落ち込んでいる(Ochikondeiru)” to your friends and “落ち込んでいます(Ochikondeimasu)” to your teachers. If it’s too hard to memorize the phrase, remember the verb “落ちる (Ochiru)” meaning “go down”. “落ち込む(Ochikomu)” means that someone’s “feeling” is “going down”.

 

7. Kudaranai / くだらない

I talked about “sorry story” above and said that it often means “悲しい(Kanashii)” –however, this phrase might mean completely different. Maybe you know that “sorry story” sometimes means “silly story” especially when the background of the story is so silly or the story is unreasonable. You can use “くだらない(Kudaranai)” in front of your friends and/or those who are pretty close to you. But I would recommend you not to say “くだらない(Kudaranai)” to your boss –since it is very impolite. Although there is another way to express “くだらない(Kudaranai)” –which is “お粗末な(おそまつな/ Osomatsuna)”, it is not ideal to use this when talking about things that are not belonging to you. When having conversation about your stuffs, it might be just fine to say that. For example, when you would like to give some gift to your boss and say “お粗末なものですが/ Osomatsuna mono desuga (Although this is not great thing, I hope you’ll like it)”, it’s just fine. But still, you should be careful when using “くだらない (Kudaranai)”.

 

Conclusion

There are so many ways to say “sorry” in Japanese like I mentioned above. Moreover, you should be very careful about the form especially when talking with someone whom you need to show respect. When you have a chance to hear these expressions, listen carefully and see how we use them in our daily conversation.

 

7 Expressive Ways to Say “Sorry” in Japanese!

1. Gomennasai / ごめんなさい
2. Koukaisuru / 後悔する(こうかいする)
3. Zannenda / 残念だ(ざんねんだ)
4. Kinodokuda / 気の毒だ(きのどくだ)
5. Kanashii / 悲しい(かなしい)
6. Ochikomu / 落ち込む(おちこむ)
7. Kudaranai / くだらない