How to Apologize in Arabic Posted by on Sep 2, 2020 in Arabic Language, Language, Vocabulary

In this post, we’re going to look at various ways we can apologize in Arabic depending on the type of incident that may require an apology.

As an Arabic learner, you have probably already learned the word آسِف to mean “sorry”. Yet, some incidents may require a heavier or more elaborate way to apologize. At the same time, in some incidents, saying عفواً “excuse me” is more than enough. Choosing the appropriate apology word/phrase can affect how the other party perceives your message. Even in English, a slight bump in the shoulder wouldn’t require the same apology as being late to a gathering or wrongly accusing someone of doing something they did not do. As an Arabic learner who intends on actually speaking with Arabic native speakers, you will feel more confident knowing more than one way to apologize… just in case. 😊

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✨Let’s begin with your simple “sorry”.

آسِف: sorry

You could also say “I’m sorry,” by adding the pronoun.

.أنا آسِف (if the speaker is male)

.أنا آسِفة (if the speaker is female)

This may sound a tad bit more sincere. You could also add a bit more sincerity by putting your hand on your chest as you say it.

For example, you were standing in the way and didn’t realize someone was behind you, or you didn’t see someone’s call or text message in time.

.أنا آسِف، لم أتمكن مِن الرَّد على هاتِفي  I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to pick up my phone.

Note: Remember that with آسِف, it does not matter if you are apologizing to a male, female, or group, it will always be آسِف if the one apologizing is male and اسفة if female, making it much easier to just apologize right away without trying to conjugate. 😊

✨Let’s say you’re in an Arabic speaking country and your moving through a crowd and slightly bumping into people. You could say آسِف and you could also use ًعفوا meaning “excuse me,” It’s polite and formal.

Perhaps you didn’t catch what someone was saying to you, you could say,

عفواً، ماذا قُلت؟  Excuse me, what did you say?

✨As in English, a more formal and perhaps heavier way to say sorry is to say, “I apologize”.

.أنا أعْتَذِر: I apologize.

Note: In Levantine Arabic, just replace the sound of the letter ذ with the letter ز; making it أنا أعتزر instead of أعتذر.

For example, you were late to a gathering or a lecture, or if someone calls you up to invite you for coffee and you are unable to go, saying أنا أعتذر and then explaining the circumstances would be appropriate. Giving a reason in such cases would show more sincerity.

You could say .أنا أعتذر، ولكن كان الطريق مُزدَحِماً

I apologize, but there was a lot of traffic.

✨Let’s pretend that the inconvenience you caused someone requires some forgiveness. Perhaps you told someone you were going to pick them up and you totally forgot.

You can say سامِحْنِي meaning “forgive me”.

.أرجوك سامِحني: Please forgive me.

You could also add “it was my mistake or my fault.”

.إنها غلطتي

Note: غلطتي is coming from the word غَلَط meaning “error” or “mistake”, it can also be used to mean “wrong” or “incorrect”.

I hope you found this post informative. Till next time, happy Arabic learning! 😊

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About the Author: yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.


  1. Noah Daouda:

    I really getting something good from the Arabic language thanks the the organizer of this program I need more

  2. Lianne:

    Hi dear. Your posts are very nice. I enjoy reading all of them. I only have one small request; could you please put the fatha, damma, etc. so I am able to know how to pronounce the words you are mentioning? That would be of great help! (Or in phonetics would also be fine). Thanks!