15 different ways to apologize other than “Gomennasai”

15 different ways to apologize other than “Gomennasai”

I will show you how to apologize to Japanese people other than “Gomennasai”. We have lots of ways to apologize. Sometimes we use the same word but it means totally different in different situation. Have you ever been in a situation when you want to apologize in Japanese but you have no idea how? Is “Gomennasai” too casual to apologize in business situation? Do you want to apologize without saying “Gomennasai”? I have 15 tips for you!



 

15 different ways to apologize other than “Gomennasai”

 

1. SUMIMASEN / “SUIMASEN”

You can use “SUMIMASEN” and “SUIMASEN” in business situation but normally not in email conversation. “SUIMASEN” is more of verbal conversation and “SUMIMASEN” is used in email conversation. I even did not know these differences when I was student. Although I have been working in the office, unfortunately I sometime read mails when someone use “SUIMASEN”. On top of this, it would be better for you to use “SUMIMASEN” to your boss, instead of using “SUIMASEN”. So we can say that “SUMIMASEN” is more polite way to apologize than we use “SUIMASEN”. In verbal communication, there might not have big differences between these two words but most of us know the differences so if you deal with Japanese people in business situation, please try to use “SUMIMASEN”. On the other hand, we do not use these two words to friends as it is more to business words. If my close friend uses “SUMIMASEN” or “SUIMASEN” to me without knowing the meaning, I might feel a bit awkward and will be saying “Hey dude, you do not need to be so formal. We are friends, aren’t we?”

 

2. TAIHEN MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN

I prefer not to use this word in any situation I come across but sometimes you have got to say in any reason. It means “I am deeply sorry for any inconvenience caused to you”. I really want to avoid saying this word as much as possible I can by trying my best to business partner or anyone who I work with. Here is just an example when we use this word in business situation. Let’s say, I am working for company and I have some business partners whose have got deal with us. There are confidential information which only allow to share between me and those business partners. However due to communication issue or any other problem incurred, those confidential information had leaked to outside. It affects company benefits and they lose all the trust which they were keeping on building. In this situation, we will use “TAIHEN MOSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN”. I do not want to come across this situation but it is better to know how to say in worst case. If your business partner gets angry or feels stress because of something you have made, please try not to give any excuse. First of all, say this word. Japanese old guys do not like someone give excuse. Hope you never use this word. Finger cross!

 

3. OWABI MOUSHIAGEMASU

This is also to be used in business and it can be translated as “You have my sincere apologies”. You can use this in verbal communication and also you can offer an apology by email, letter and card. It is similar with “TAIHEN MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN” but I feel we use in the same time these two words. “TAIHEN MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN” comes first and “OWABI MOUSHIAGEMASU” comes next. In order not to make somebody uncomfortable in business situation, we had better to remember the way to apologize other than “GOMENNASAI”. By knowing many ways to apologize like Japanese people, you might be able to obtain further business? But again, try not to make it happen using these heavy apology words in your business! Here is one tip for you when you have to use! Normally when we go to apologize to somewhere, we bring some souvenirs. We express our sincere apologies by giving the souvenirs in Japanese culture. If you perfectly could distinguish these differences, I am sure that you are truly Japanese!

 

4. SHITUREI SHIMASHITA

I believe this is not heavy word to say compare to “TAIHEN MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN” but this is also suitable to use in business situation rather than using with friends. It can be translated as “Sorry, I made a small mistake but not serious one”. As you have heard that TV casters are saying this word, they sometimes wrongly say different things which they did not mean to say and realize in the same time. Here is the example for you to easily understand. If you are in discussion with your boss and he asked you “When do we have a meeting with this company?” and you thought that there is no upcoming meeting with them. But you realize that we do have a meeting with them the day after tomorrow. In that case, you can use “SHITUREI ITASHIMASHITA” by correcting the answer. As long as you realize and correct it in the same time, it should not be a big problem but if you just want to say “Oops, sorry I had a small mistake or misunderstanding”. You can use this word. But again please make sure not to use to friends. I sometimes hear this word in the office if someone made a small mistake.

 

5. KYOUSYUKU DESU

It is used in business situation and more suitable than “SUMIMASEN” and it is similar to “Sorry to bother you”. It is used when you want to express your apology or thanks and also can be humble way. Here is the example. You have something need to ask your supervisor but he seems busy. In that case, we say “KYOUSYUKU DESUGA… do you have time?”. You are working as sales and you got great result. Your supervisor said “You have done great job!” In this case, we say “KYOUSYUKU DESU… it is great honor to work here” or something like that. So now you know how we say this word in real situation. In Japanese culture, we treat nicely the way how we apologize not only we say sorry but we also put some word front or effort for expressing our apology more. That’s why “KYOUSYUKU DESU” is one of additional words to put which we are able to get ready before you apologize. It is better to have some word that can predict something will happen from now. In English, we also say “I am afraid to say” In this case, we might be able to predict that something bad will happen. I think it is similar word. If you have got some Japanese people and tell them “KYOUSYUKU DESUGA”, they will be surprised how you know our culture well!

 

6. HANSEI SHIMASU

This is not the word to directly apologize to someone like “SUMIMASEN” or “MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN”. This is to show you how you regret what you have done in the past. “HANSEI SHIMASU” includes the meaning of not repeating the same thing. You might use this phrase in business situation but we do not use for friends. “HANSEI SHIMASU” seems a bit serious word to say to your friends. But I have seen the situation which girlfriend dumps her boyfriend as he cheated her then he should say “HANSEI SHIMASU” if he did not break up with her. Again, this word is to show sincerely apology and how you regret what you have done and show you do not want to repeat and want someone forgive it. An apology is an expression of remorse for something you have done wrong and made someone disappointed. This word means serves as a way to repair your relationship after your wrong action and words given to someone. If you say “HANSEI SHIMASU” to someone, he or she definitely might forgive you. The best way of apology is “quick and intense”. If you want to use this word, just say sorry first and after that use “HANSEI SHIMASU”.

 

7. “WARUINE”

It means “It is my bad” in English and it is not the word to say to your boss but it is okay to use from boss to subordinate. If you accidently use to your boss, it might be caused another apologies situation. I can say you are prohibited to say this phrase to your boss but if you have subordinate then go ahead to use to him or her. They will think how you can care about them eventually. In Japan, we have boss-subordinate relationship. That’s why we have to differentiate the word between friends and people whose age higher than you. If you had some request from your boss but honestly you do not want to do that job because you are too busy but you have got to do anyhow. In that case, your boss will say “WARUINE” in order to express how care about you. Showing someone care to those in your life on a regular basis is more challenging than it sounds. The people we hold dearest and closest to us are often the ones we expend the least amount of effort in displays of caring and affection. Most people appreciate and need the occasional display of caring. Now you know how and when to use “WARUINE” right?

 

8. OSORE IRIMASUGA

This is also to put something before you actually mean to say and meanwhile it can be very polite way to say something. It is close to “Would you be so kind to be as to…?” or “I am afraid to say”. When you say “OSORE IRIMASUGA” actually you want to ask for someone’s help or disagree something what people told. In business meeting or negotiation situations, if you show other people that you are listening to them and you understand them. They will be more willing to listen to you and accept your opinion. Just try to use this phrase when you want to disagree or say something more. It is better to show them that you are listening and that you understand them before you explain your opinion or situation. When you want to propose new idea rather than considering your teammate opinion, you can use this before you actually start to explain what your opinion is. Without using this, and once you start to explain your opinion, they might not agree on your point. Moreover they will reject and feel uncomfortable. In Japanese culture, we respect other opinion very well even if it is rejected by expressing the word such as “OSORE IRIMASUGA…”. We try not to make someone uncomfortable and sometimes the way we do is intense but as long as you communicate nicely with someone, they will not feel bad right? Especially in business meeting or negotiations, please speak nicely to your business partners or bosses.

 

9. NANTE OWABI SHITE IINOYARA…

It means “I do not know how to apologize enough to you” in English. There are no other ways to sorry enough to you since I had done wrongly to you and made you angry. Do you feel it is strange way? If you feel sorry to someone then just say sorry? According to Japanese dictionary, it is written that I feel terribly and deeply sorry to you but the appropriate word does not exist, that’s why I say there are no words to express the feelings. Meanwhile, if I put all the apologies word to express my feeling but is cannot be enough. If we change this phrase directly to English, it will be “I do not know how to apologize”. Don’t you think Japanese is complicated but interesting language? It can be “I do not know how to apologize” but actually our mean to say is “there are no other ways to apologize enough”. If you have done seriously bad things to someone, it can be used in anytime. Just give a try and make your surroundings surprised?

 

10. MOUSHIWAKE!

First of all, do not use this word to your boss or even in the office. It is kind of very verbal word between friends. It is similar to the one I have explained earlier in this article but the meaning and timing to be used is totally different. So be careful! This word can be used when your friend did some crappy stuff and nobody took this seriously and everyone knew that your friend was just kidding. In that case, he can say “MOUSHIWAKE!” with smile. If you could use this in right situation, your Japanese friend will be pretty much surprised. But make sure not to use in business meeting. “MOUSHIWAKE” is the word to make “MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN” shorter. So you know it is not the polite way to say at all. We Japanese people think politeness is the best thing to boss or someone older than us, I sometimes hear Japanese girls are using this word than Japanese guys use. Basically guys also can use this word but most of time, girls are using. Thus, it can be a girl’s word, we can say. You will be familiar time to time!

 

11. CHINSYA

It means keep on apologizing. It is also quiet heavy word to say to friends. I hear this word on TV when some company gave unhealthy products which they did not use proper ingredients and it was found out eventually. When it happened then the company needs “CHINSYA” to all the customers. If possible we would like to avoid using this word indeed. But just remember for the time you come across some situation you need to use. Hope it is helpful word for you.

 

12. SHITUREI!

It is also similar to SHITUREI SHIMASHITA” but “SHITUREI!” is much casual to say to friends. So I can say that you have to make sure to differentiate those words. You cannot mix up those words in the conversation. We normally use with friends when they came late or if someone being so flakey accidently. In that case, they can use “SHITUREI!” to give expression for apology. But in case of inevitably, try not to use this word since this means when something happened accidently without your control. And again, this is not applicable to use to boss but to your friends or person whose same level with you. In the office, if your boss made a mistake then you amended, your boss might be able to use this.

 

13. I am sorry, hige sorry

This is one of Japanese comedian phrases long time ago. It was very famous before. Obviously, it is not serious word to say at all so don’t use to your boss or business partners. If you think they are more than close friends then you can use. Do you realize that hige sorry means actually shaver? Hige means beard and sorry (sori) means shave. If you want to make someone laugh, you can say and we all Japanese know it is one of the jokes famous before, I am sure that they are surprised and all laugh. Just give a try but again this is very old jokes.

 

14. FUTOKU NO ITASU TOKORO DE GOZAIMASU

It means put the blame on me. All faults are responsible by me. When can you use? I suggest using to business partners. When some trouble occurred and its responsibility will be blamed on partner side then they will tell you “I am sincerely sorry about this and inconvenience caused to you. FUTOKU NO ITASU TOKORO DE GOZAIMASU…”. You will not use to your friends. This is too serious word to use to friends. Make sure not to use them!

 

15. GOMEIWAKU OKAKESHIMASHITA

It means “I am sorry to trouble you”. You can use to your boss or business partners but not to friends. When you need to say sorry and something caused trouble to somebody, say this word in order to express your apology. It is much better to explain the reason why the issue happened after saying this word. Moreover tell them the solutions if there is another way to solve the issue. It will be much better if you want to have better relationship with your partners.

 

Conclusion

It would be great if we never use these apology words in a situation where we needed to make an apology. But just in case if you needed, refer to above phrases but make sure sometimes one apology may have several different ways which can be used depending on how casual or formal you want to be.

Just as important is to explain what happened. This not only shows that you truly understand how and why something is an issue, but it also builds trust and transparency.You might find that your relationship with your boss and business partner has actually strengthened as a result. We all make mistake, maybe you will even look forward to the next problem. By doing that, you can see that there is an opportunity to show how supportive you can be.

Just take this a good time if you need to apologize and show them how you are trustable person and you can build transparency. Lastly, don’t put the entire blame on the situation you were in. face it and accept it to somebody that you took a wrong step, and it is as much your fault. Even if somebody did not forgive you the first time, be on your mind not to repeat the same mistake like you did. You are one step closer to forgiveness. Take it easy and don’t give up the first time or even the second time. Eventually you can gain the truth back from your friends or business partners.

Keep these phrases on your mind and show you care about what you did. I hope everything will be alright about whatever issues you are facing now and above phrases can support your relationship more nicely and smoothly.

 

15 different ways to apologize other than “Gomennasai”

1. SUMIMASEN / “SUIMASEN”
2. TAIHEN MOUSHIWAKE GOZAIMASEN
3. OWABI MOUSHIAGEMASU
4. SHITUREI SHIMASHITA
5. KYOUSYUKU DESU
6. HANSEI SHIMASU
7. “WARUINE”
8. OSORE IRIMASUGA
9. NANTE OWABI SHITE IINOYARA…
10. MOUSHIWAKE!
11. CHINSYA
12. SHITUREI!
13. I am sorry, hige sorry
14. FUTOKU NO ITASU TOKORO DE GOZAIMASU
15. GOMEIWAKU OKAKESHIMASHITA