How to Apologize in Italian

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We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s a simple gaffe (anyone read my other post, Parole Pericolose? If not – check it out for some serious mixups), and sometimes it’s a bigger error that involves actually offending your new Italian friend. 

If it hasn’t happened yet, over the course of your language learning journey, unfortunately, it probably will. So why not be prepared and have a few apologies ready to go, just in case? I’ve prepared them into two levels: Minor Oops and Major Oops, so you’re covered no matter the crime.

Minor Oops

Minor Oops – These phrases can be used for something simple, bumping into someone, knocking something over, accidentally stealing someone’s cart at the grocery store (am I the only one who does this?) or not having exact change when the bartender asks for it.

  • Mi dispiace – I am sorry
  • Mi spiace – I am sorry (this and “mi dispiace” two are ways to say the same thing, there isn’t a difference between this and the example above, “spiace” is just a shortened version of “dispiace”)
  • Quanto sono goffo(a)! – I am so clumsy!
  • Oops – Oops (but pronounced “oh-ps” in Italian)
  • Mi scusi – Excuse me (formal)
  • Scusami! – Excuse me (informal)
  • Le chiedo scusa per…- I apologize for…(formal)
    • Example: Le chiedo scusa per il disagio! – I apologize for the inconvenience 
  • Ti chiedo scusa per… – I apologize for…(informal)
  • Perdonami – Forgive/Pardon me
  • Mi perdoni – Forgive/Pardon me (formal)
  • È colpa mia – It’s my fault

Major Oops

Major oops – These phrases are a little longer, and get more to the heart of the matter. If you do a major faux paux, this would be more fitting when asking for forgiveness.

  • Spero che mi perdoni – I hope you can forgive me 
    • NB: Perdoni is written this way because it is in the subjunctive tense (because it follows “spero che”, so it’s the same for both formal and informal – not sure what I mean? Check out this post)
  • Non volevo offenderti/offenderla – I didn’t mean to offend you (informal and formal)
  • Ho sbagliato io, ti/le chiedo scusa – I was wrong, I apologize (informal and formal)
  • Farò in modo di non fare questo sbaglio di nuovo – I won’t make this mistake again
  • Mi assumo la piena responsabilità – I take full responsibility
  • Mi dispiace tanto – I am really sorry
  • Avevo fame, non pensavo… – I was hungry, I wasn’t thinking… (ehm: this comes from my personal library of excuses based on bad things I’ve said when I was hungry…)
  • Sei una persona speciale per me, non avrei mai voluto offenderti/la – You’re a special person to me, I didn’t mean to offend you (informal/formal)
  • Ti/Le chiedo scusa dal cuore – I apologize from the heart (informal/formal)
  • Qualsiasi cosa sia, possiamo rimediare – Whatever it is, we can fix it
  • Come posso rimediare la situazione? – How can I fix the situation?
  • Non stavo pensando con lucidità – I wasn’t thinking clearly

What about you? Have you ever offended someone in another language? How did you fix the situation?

2 Comments

  1. Tante grazie! I find myself apologizing constantly in Italian 🙂 so this will mix it up a bit!

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