How to Say "I'm Sorry" in Russian: Top 20 Excuses - Blog (2023)

Have you ever tormented yourself about how to apologize and get your apology accepted? It's difficult even in your mother tongue. But when it comes to a foreign language, you need to be even more thoughtful and attentive. It's not enough to learn to say "sorry" in Russian culture; even your gestures and behavior matter when apologizing, in any language. So let's learn how to say "Please forgive me" in Russian and be on top in any situation. Start with a bonus anddownload your FREE Cheat Sheet: How to Improve Your Russian Skills! (Only for registered members)

  1. Body language to apologize
  2. The Top Words to Say "I'm Sorry" in Russian
  3. formal apology
  4. informal apology
  5. quirky excuses
  6. How to Respond to an Apology in Russian
  7. conclusion

How to Say "I'm Sorry" in Russian: Top 20 Excuses - Blog (2)

1. Body language to apologize

Russians don't differ much from Europeans when it comes to body language during an apology. So, once you've found the best way to say "I'm sorry" in Russian for your situation, you can apply the following body language tips to add sincerity and depth to your apology.

If the situation isn't too formal or serious, you can look the other person in the eye. However, this might not be the best approach if you're running late for a job interview.

Looking down during the apology will make it deeper and more sincere.

2. The main words to say "sorry" in the Russian language

There are two commonly used verbs for an apology in the Russian language:I'm sorry(Izvinit') yTo forgive(tonto🇧🇷 Note that these apology verbs are in the infinitive here, and to ask for forgiveness you will need to change it depending on the situation, whether formal or informal. We will learn more about this later in the article. Both words can be used in both types of situations. You can choose anyone for your apology. The difference is very vague and not all Russians can define it.

  • I'm sorry(Izvinit') comes from the nounwines(vineyard) which means “guilt”. By adding the prefixdo-(do-) meaning "outside" is like asking the other person "to take the blame off of you". This word is normally used to apologize for a minor fault or in formal situations. People often say this when they don't feel guilty and apologize just to follow social etiquette. Use this word if you are not sure if the person is offended or not.
  • To forgive(tonto) is used when you really offended someone and you know it for sure. It means "I understand my guilt, I shouldn't have done this." This word is used when your conscience is tormenting you, and you sincerely want to change this situation.

Let's try to feel the difference between these two words for the official phrase "Sorry to bother you". If you use the verbI'm sorry(Izvinit') then the formal sentence will be:Sorry to bother you(Sorry for the inconvenience🇧🇷 You can use it during a call when you're formally apologizing for distracting someone else from your work.

If you use the verbTo forgive(tonto) then the formal sentence will be:I'm sorry to bother you(Prostite za bespokoystvo🇧🇷 It sounds more sincere, like when you really understand that you distracted the person from doing important work and you feel sorry for it.

3. Formal Apology

So, as I said,I'm sorry(Izvinit') yTo forgive(tonto) are the main words of apology. This is how they turn an apology into a formal situation:

  • I'm sorry(Sorry)-"I'm sorry."
  • I'm sorry(prostitute)-"I'm sorry."
  • You can use these words like this. But if you add the reason why you are sorry, it will seem more polite and sincere.

    • …, which…(… what…) which means “…, that…” While it is enough to say that you are sorry, in the Russian language it sounds more polite and sincere if you explain why you are sorry. For example, "Sorry I'm late" in Russian issorry for being late(Sorry, that's opposite).
    • … by…(…by…) which means “…to…” This is another way to add a reason. For example,I'm sorry to bother you(Prostite za bespokoystvo) means "Sorry to bother you."

    Also, your apology will sound more polite if you addPlease(Pozhaluysta) or "Please". For example,Sorry to bother you, but your boss is calling.(Izvinita, pozhaluysta, chto otvlekayu, no vas vyzyvayet nachal'nik) means "Sorry to interrupt, but the boss is calling you."

  • I apologize(Proshu proshcheniya)-"I apologize". This apology is very official and can be used in a public speech. Please note that if you are apologizing on behalf of an entire company, useWe apologize(Prosim proscheniya) which means "We apologize." don't forget to add…, which…(… what…) which means “…, for…”. For example,sorry for distracting(Proshu proshcheniya, que otvlekayu) means "Sorry to distract you."
    • I would like to apologize for...(Ya por khotel poprosit 'proshcheniya za…)—“I want to apologize for” (to a man). This is another apology phrase with the same meaning.
    • I would like to apologize for...(Ya por khotela poprosit 'proshcheniya za…)—“I want to apologize for” (to a woman).
  • I'm sorry that(Ya izvinyayus' que…)—"I apologize for..." This is another form of formal apology. It is typically used when you don't expect a response or response to your apology and are only apologizing to maintain social etiquette. For example,I'm sorry it happened(Ya izvinyayus', que tak poluchilos') which means "I'm sorry it happened that way." If you want to deeply apologize and say "I'm sorry" in Russian, use the phraseI'm sorry(Ya sil'no izvinyayus' que...).
    • I would like to apologize for...(Ya por khotel izvinit'sya za…)—“I want to apologize for” (to a man). Another form of the same apology. It's a little longer, so it looks deeper.
    • I would like to apologize for...(Ya por khotela izvinit'sya za…)—“I want to apologize for” (to a woman).
  • We apologize(Prinosim svoi izvineniya)-"We apologize." The phrase is usually used for an official announcement by a company. The phraseWe apologize for the inconvenience caused(Prinosim svoi izvineniya za dostavlennyye neudobstva), which means "We apologize for any inconvenience", is often used for official announcements. For example, if one of the subway lines or stations is closed for reconstruction, the responsible company can make a similar announcement.
  • I'm sorry(Yo ochen' zhal')-"I'm sorry." This phrase emphasizes the regrets you have about something. Remember that it can be not only an apology, but also a way to show compassion for some negative event. If you're wondering how to say "I'm sorry for your loss" or "I'm sorry to hear that" in Russian, this is a good place to start. For example:
    • I'm sorry that this happened(I ochen' zhal', que tak poluchilos')—"I'm sorry it happened that way."
    • I'm sorry it happened(Me ochen' zhal', que tak vyshlo)—"I'm sorry it happened that way."

4. Informal apology

This is how the main words of apologyI'm sorry(Izvinit') yTo forgive(tonto) seem to be in an informal situation:

  • I'm sorry(I'm sorry)-"I'm sorry"
  • I'm sorry(free of charge)-"I'm sorry"

Therefore, "I'm sorry, comrade" in Russian is translated asMy condolences friend(sorry damn).

You can also addPlease(Pozhaluysta) meaning "Please", or the reason, or even addressing the person. For example:

  • Sorry I didn't call earlier(Lo siento, pozhaluysta, chto ne pozvonil ran'she)—"Sorry I didn't call sooner."
  • sorry for calling so late(Izvini, que zvonyu tak pozdno)—“Sorry to call you so late at night.”

There's an interesting informal apology when you refer to yourself in the third person. Although it is little used today, you can find it a lot in books, movies and series:

  • forgive the fool(sorry silly)—"Forgive me for being so stupid."
  • sorry idiot(stupid fool)—"Forgive me for being such an idiot."

You can add a few sentences after the main apology to make it stronger:

  • I didn't want to offend you(Ya ne khotel tebya obidet')-"I didn't mean to offend you." For a male.
  • I didn't want to offend you(Ya ne khotela tebya obidet')-"I didn't mean to offend you." For a woman.
  • I won't do it again(Ya bol'she tak ne budu)-"I won't do it again."

5. Quirky Apologies

Of course, some people get bored with the most popular excuses and find ways to sound more original when apologizing. Most of them are meant to be used in informal situations:

  • Excuses(Tysyacha izvineniy)—"A thousand apologies to you." This apology is often used in ancient books and tales. It gives a slight sense of the time of knights and kings.
  • I'm sorry(Pardon)-"Pardon." This apology comes from French and is often used in Russia. However, use it carefully as it gives off a feeling of insincerity. Also, many Russians use it when they are drunk. you can also useI'm sorry(excuse me) which means "sorry" when you casually apologize to someone.
  • guilty(culpable)-"I'm guilty." This apology comes from the military world.
    • sorry, I'll fix it(Vinovat, ispravlyus')—"I'm guilty, I won't do it again." This is another military apology. It shows that you understand that you've done something wrong and that you're ready to make amends or behave better.
    • guilty, sorry(Vinovat, kayu')—“I am guilty, I confess.” This apology is a little on the religious side. You emphasize that you confess the sin you have committed. This apology is also only used in books now, or it can sometimes be heard in casual situations.
  • OK, sorry(Nu, izvinyayte)-"I'm sorry." This is a very informal apology in front of friends. You accept that you've done something wrong, but you arrogantly show that you're above it.
  • I'm sorry(Smile)-"I'm sorry." This informal apology comes from English.
    • Soryan(Soryan)-"I'm sorry." This one is even more casual than the last one. It is used among millennials.
    • soryan, que(Soryan, choOutro)-"I'm sorry." This is another version of the previous one. Addingwhich(but) which is the informal abbreviation of что (chto) meaning “what”, is like asking “So what? So what can you do about it?
  • I'm so sorry that...(Ya sozhalyu, que...)-"I'm sorry for…". This is a formal but outdated apology. You'll find it a lot in books, but rarely in real life. For example,sorry i made you wait(Ya sozhaleyu, ese zastavil vas zhdat')—"I'm sorry I kept you waiting."

6. How to respond to an apology in Russian

1- General answers

  • He is well(Without fear)—“Nothing bad happened.” This is a frequently used response in both formal and informal situations. For example, if you're late for a job interview and you apologize, you'll probably get this phrase in response.
  • Everything is good(Vsyo vs Poryadke)-"Everything is good." This is another response to an apology in both formal and informal situations. You can even combine the two phrases:okay okay(Nichego strashnogo, vsyo v poryadke) which means "Nothing bad happened, everything is fine", to emphasize that the apology was accepted.

2- Informal answers

  • we drive(Proyekhali)—“Already forgotten.” WordTour(Project) means passing in a car or other vehicle. So this answer means that you got over this awkward situation quickly and it's not even worth noticing.
  • It happens(Passing)-"It happens." You express to the person who is apologizing that he or she is not at fault. By using this phrase, you even support the person a little so that he does not worry too much about what happened.
  • OK it doesn't matter(Ladno, zabyli)—“Okay, let’s forget about it.” By using this phrase, you show that you are not interested in hearing more excuses. Be careful when using this phrase. It could mean that you still feel angry about what the other person did, but you want to end the conflict and swallow your grudge.
  • Anything(Anything)-"Is nothing." This is a very light and often used response to an apology. It's a short version ofHe is well(Without fear) which means "Nothing bad happened".
  • Nothing nothing(Nothing nothing)-"He is well." This is another version ofAnything(Anything) which means "It's nothing". Use it when you want to quickly change the theme to other things.

7. Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to say "I apologize" in Russian, but 90% of all apologies include the wordI'm sorry(Izvinit') or the wordTo forgive(tonto🇧🇷 Be sure to remember how these infinitives change in formal and informal apologies. For formal useI'm sorry(Sorry)—“I’m sorry” andI'm sorry(prostitute)-"I'm sorry." For informals, useI'm sorry(I'm sorry)—“I’m sorry” andI'm sorry(free of charge)-"I'm sorry." Once you feel comfortable using these common Russian words like "I'm sorry", choose other excuses and learn them to expand your vocabulary and impress your Russian partners and friends.

The wide variety of apologies in Russian can be confusing at first, especially if you're just starting to learn the language. Consider taking some classes at ourMyTeacher program for Russian learnersto get a huge advantage and save time by minimizing study efforts. With the help of our teachers, you will quickly improve your Russian language skills and very soon you will begin to sound like a real Russian.

See you!(¡Uvidimsya!)-"See you!"

How to Say "I'm Sorry" in Russian: Top 20 Excuses - Blog (10)

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