Japanese Language Blog

6 Ways of Saying Sorry in Japanese Posted by on Sep 29, 2015 in Culture, Grammar



In your day to day conversation, I am sure there are some occasions or moments where you have to sincerely apologize to someone.  Perhaps you didn’t mean to hurt his/her feelings, but thing happened, and that you need to let him/her know how sorry you are.  Today’s post is all about apologizing in Japanese. I don’t think I have covered this topic yet in my blog. These are some useful expressions when you need to say “sorry” to someone..  I added some explanation to each of them so you know when/how to use it. Read on!


Gomen ne (ごめんね) – I am sorry. or Gomen nasai (ごめんなさい) – I am sorry.


This one is a typical expression when you just want to say, ” I am sorry.


Gomen (ごめん) –  Sorry…


Just like when you use say “sorry” in English, this is a shorter version. Depending on the way you say it, it would sound like, you might not actually mean it…(you know what I mean..)


Honto ni gomen ne (本当にごめんね。ほんとうに ごめんね。) – I am really sorry.


“Really” is “honto ni ” in Japanese. By adding this word, you sound like you mean more.



Suggoku gomen ne. (凄く、ごめんね。 すごく ごめんね。) – I am truly sorry.


This expression is rather between kids or close friends of yours.


Moushi wakenai.  (申し訳ない、もうしわけない。) – I feel terrible. 


This expression is mainly used among adults. You would say this to someone you don’t know to well, or someone who is in higher status than yourself.  This applies also to the next expression.


Moushi wake arimasen deshita. (申し訳ありませんでした。もうしわけ ありませんでした。) – I am really sorry. I feel terrible. 


This expression is used again mainly among adults. It is used also in professional environment, such as at work places.


If you know how to use the above 6 ways of saying “sorry” by differentiating based on the situation you are in, you are good to go. Most of the time, you can get away by using the first expression. Hopefully you don’t have to use these so often!

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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.


  1. rani:

    Hi Keiko san,

    I have a question. When a son/daughter apologies for his terribly wrong action, is it okay to say “honto ni sumimasendeshita” or should he/she say “moushiwake arimasendeshita” to his parents?

    And when someone bow to ask for forgiveness in Japanese way, what the action is called? Is it owabi?

    Thank you.


    • keiko:

      @rani Hi Rani,

      Well, when children apologize to their parents, normally, they would simply say, “Gomen nasai”. This is sufficient unless children are apologizing to their “in_laws”, then they might say, “Honto ni sumimasendeshita” or “moushiwake arimasendeshita” just like you mentioned. These two expressions are pretty formal in that you normally don’t use them within your direct family.

      And yes, this action itself is called “Owabi”.

      Hope this helps!


  2. Carmen Lee:

    It’s was very useful,thank you!^^

  3. erika:

    what phrase should i say if i make my friend feel terrible until now for what i have done but not intentionally to hurt him. please do help me

    • keiko:

      @erika Hi Erika,

      Thanks for posting your question. I would say,
      “konna omoini saseru tsumori nakatta no. gomen ne” (こんな 思いにさせるつもりなかったの。ごめんね。こんな 思いにさせるつもりなかったの。ごめんね。)

      I hope things will work out between you and your friend.


  4. 13Reaper:

    Does “Honto ni gomen ne tomo no tame ni.” mean “I am really sorry for my friend.”?

    • keiko:

      @13Reaper Hi!

      Well, yes it does literally mean just like you translated, but it sounds like this is part of the context?


  5. Jorge:

    I love Japanese language I wish I could learn it

    • keiko:

      @Jorge Hi Jorge,

      You can always start learning Japanese anytime! Never too late to start! Trust me! 🙂


  6. richard joaquim:

    Just like your native language, you’ll still be learning it on the day you die, even if you live to be 90. — Unless you just want to dabble in it, like most do.

  7. Kara:

    I wanted to learn Japanese language but there’s no one to teach me I only read thing through the internet or watching anime. I’m really interested in Japan

    • keiko:

      @Kara Hi Kara,

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad to hear that you are interested in learning Japanese. Japanese might sound hard to learn at first but there are many ways you can learn even though you don’t have someone to each you. Taking advantage of online resources is one way to learn Japanese. Hopefully you can revisit here to learn some more!


  8. Nannon:


    I am currently watching a 90’s tv show from Georgia Public Broadcasting Network GPB

    Its called Irasshai. It teaches from beginners to intermediate. Its very repetative so I know loads more than I did 20 episodes ago. There are over 120 lessons at 30 mins each.



    • keiko:

      @Nannon Hi Nannon,

      This site looks like a great place to learn some Japanese expressions. Thank you for sharing!


  9. Zenshi:

    Wow, this helps a lot for learning the basic apologetic sentences in Japanese. Great!

  10. Anne Lee:

    Can we use “Sumimasen” to apologize?

  11. Glydel:

    I want to learn Japanese language 🙂 Can you teach me? I want to know how to say these words in japanese ” I will forgive you but please learn your lesson. “

    • keiko:

      @Glydel Hi Glydel,

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to hear you are into learning Japanese. I will forgive you but please learn your lesson.” will be something like, ” Konkai wa yurusukedo, kondo kara wa kio tsuketene. (今回は 許すけど、今度からは気を付けてね。こんかいは ゆるすけど こんどからは きをつけてね。)

      Hope this helps!


  12. Glydel:

    Arigato 🙂 Thank you for the responce .

  13. Zaina:

    When someone sayas Gomen Nasai.. how do i reply it. If ia want to say “its ok..”

    • keiko:

      @Zaina Hi Zaina,

      If you want to say, “it’s ok”, I would say, “Iiyo Daijo bu (いいよ、だいじょうぶ、大丈夫)”. Hope this helps!


  14. Liyu:

    Hi I am learning Japanese And how do you say I am sorry just any one.