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How to apologize in Japanese


Aug 28, 2014
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The Japanese are masters in the art of excuse. We apologize less than the fault itself as the lack of respect that result. That is why it is mostly people of lower ranks who apologize to people of higher ranks (senior, supervisor, parents, teachers, etc). Compliance with agreements is a cement of Japanese society.
In Japan, even among people of the same rank, the apology is considered a virtue. It is shown that one is aware of its responsibilities and we do not blame others (a very Western default). When someone apologizes truthfully Japanese forgive him more easily.

How to express his apology in Japanese?

窶堋キ 窶堙 窶堙 窶堋ケ 窶堙ア Sumimasen
The first term that comes to mind to apologize in Japanese is 窶堋キ 窶堙 窶堙 窶堋ケ 窶堙ア Sumimasen.
You're probably already know this word, but think again, because it contains a lot more meanings than you might think ...
Its etymology is very interesting since the verb which it is drawn, It is the polite negative form of the verb ツ催 窶堙 Sumu. So sumimasen literally means "not finished".
There is also another Sumu verb ツ税ク 窶堙? It means "to clarify". The Sumu of 窶堋キ 窶堙 窶堙 窶堋ケ 窶堙ア is actually a mixture of these two verbs.
One can use "Sumimasen" in many situations. You may hear Japanese say sumimasen receiving a gift, It is particularly used to thank (perhaps as much as 窶堋?窶堙ィ窶堋ェ窶堙??堋、 Arigatō).
ツ申窶堋オ窶禿ウ窶堋?窶堙ィ窶堙懌?堋ケ窶堙ア Mōshiwakearimasen
ツ申窶堋オ窶禿ウ窶堋?窶堙ィ窶堙懌?堋ケ窶堙ア Mōshiwakearimasen is a more polite form of sumimasen. This expression suitable in normal conditions but, in the workplace or to persons of higher rank. Guilt is expressed stronger.
As 窶堋キ 窶堙 窶堙 窶堋ケ 窶堙ア Sumimasen, ツ申 窶堋オ 窶禿ウ 窶堋? 窶堙ィ 窶堙 窶堋ケ 窶堙ア Mōshiwakearimasen can also be used to express his gratitude.
窶堋イ 窶堙 窶堙ア 窶堙 窶堋ウ 窶堋「 Gomennasai
窶堋イ 窶堙 窶堙ア 窶堙 窶堋ウ 窶堋「 Gomennasai replaces sumimasen when one wishes to ask forgiveness after the fact, for example, if you pushed someone or forgotten appointments.
This is a common and familiar expression. It is therefore not used in a formal framework to which we must mark of respect.
Among friends, we can simply use 窶堋イ 窶堙 窶堙ア Gomen or 窶堋イ 窶堙 窶堙ア 窶堙 Gomenne.
ナスツク窶氾ァ 窶堋オ 窶堙 窶堋キ Shitsureishimasu
In some special situations, we can use rather ナスツク窶氾ァ 窶堋オ 窶堙 窶堋キ Shitsureishimasu. It is a formal expression but not as profound as Mōshiwakearimasen.
The body language of apology in Japan
These expressions are accompanied mostly with bowing.:sorry::sorry::sorry::sorry:

Mike Cash

Mar 15, 2002
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失礼します doesn't really belong with those others.