How to say I’m sorry in Chinese


The standard way of saying I'm sorry in Chinese is 对不起 duìbuqǐ. A softer way of saying you are sorry or embarrassed is 不好意思 bùhǎoyìsi

sorry in Chinese

How to say I’m sorry in Chinese

Depending on the occasion, there are a wide range of apologies and condolences given in the Chinese language. The standard way of saying "I'm sorry" is 对不起 duìbuqǐ. A softer way of saying you are "sorry" or "embarrassed" is 不好意思 bùhǎoyìsi. In responding to both of these apologies, you can say 没事 méishì or 没关系 méiguānxi. Both of these sayings have the connotation of "No problem" or "It doesn't matter."

1.  对不起 duì bù qǐ

This is the most popular way to say sorry in Chinese. You can use it when you carelessly step on stranger’s foot. You can say it when you are late

对不起,我踩到你的脚了。Duìbùqǐ,  wǒ cǎi dào nǐ de jiǎole.: Sorry I stepped on your foot.
对不起!我迟到了。 duì bù qǐ! wǒ chí dào le. : Sorry! I'm late.
对不起,我打错了。duìbuqǐ,wǒ dǎ cuò le。: Sorry, I dialed incorrectly.
对不起,我不会写。duìbuqǐ,wǒ bù huì xiě。Sorry, I can't write it.
对不起,我错了。Duìbùqǐ, wǒ cuò le.: I'm sorry. I made a mistake.

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2. 不好意思 bù hǎo yì si

This phrase is used as a way of saying "excuse me," "embarrassed," or “sorry”.  You could use it when you reject an invitation, when you receive a gift, or you have some reason that you feel embarrassed to explain to them why you have done something they don’t like.

不好意思,我先走了。bùhǎoyìsi,wǒ xiān zǒu le: Sorry, I have to go.
不好意思,我说错了. Bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ shuō cuò le: Sorry, I said it wrong
不好意思,现在没有椅子。bùhǎoyìsi,xiànzài méiyǒu yǐzi: Sorry, there's no chair right now
我没有钱,不好意思。wǒ méiyǒu qián,bùhǎoyìsi。 I don’t have any money. Sorry
不好意思,我不会跳舞。bùhǎoyìsi,wǒ bù huì tiàowǔ。 Sorry, I don't know how to dance

3. 抱歉 bào qiàn

This phrase is normally used for small mistakes which don’t have very bad effects

抱歉!弄错了。bàoqiàn!nòngcuò le。 Sorry! It's a mistake.
非常抱歉,我们会给您退款。fēicháng bàoqiàn,wǒmen huì gěi nín tuìkuǎn。 Our sincerest apologies. We'll give you a refund
很抱歉我这么早就来烦扰你 Hěn bàoqiàn wǒ zhème zǎo jiù lái fánrǎo nǐ: I 'm sorry to disturb you so early.

4. How to respond

没关系 méi guān xi: It’s Okay, No problem, It doesn't matter
别担心 bié dān xīn: Don’t Worry About It
没事 méi shì: It’s Okay, No problem, It doesn't matter, It’s Nothing
算了吧 suàn le ba: Forget about It