Leçons Allemand

Thèmes

Apologizing and Expressing Regret and Sympathy

Whether you visit Germany in the future and bump into someone in a train station, or accidentally interrupt someone in an online class or meeting, it's important to know how to excuse yourself or apologize in German to an appropriate degree. 

 

First, you need to know (and learn to pronounce!) the word Entschuldigung and the verb sich entschuldigen. As you can see in the following two examples from Nicos Weg, our series for beginners, Entschuldigung can mean either "excuse me" or "sorry" depending on the context.

 

Entschuldigung, wen suchen Sie? -Lisa Brunner.

Excuse me, who are you looking for? -Lisa Brunner.

Caption 4, Nicos Weg: Wo ist der Aufzug?

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Ach, Nico, Entschuldigung, ich komme viel zu spät.

Oh, Nico, sorry, I'm much too late.

Caption 27, Nicos Weg A1 Folge 35: Wann spielen wir?

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Occasionally, you may hear the word Verzeihung used to apologize. This is a bit more formal.

 

„Oh, Verzeihung, mein Herr!", sagte Frederick.

"Oh, excuse me, sir!" said Frederick.

Caption 37, Piggeldy und Frederick Der Esel

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To apologize for something more serious than just being late or interrupting someone, the phrase Es tut mir leid is used to say "I'm sorry." It can also be used to express sympathy.

 

Es tut mir wirklich leid, das zu hören, Frau Hoffmann, dass es Ihren Kindern nicht gut ging.

Ms. Hoffmann, I'm very sorry to hear that your children aren't doing well.

Captions 48-49, Berufsleben Probleme: mit Mitarbeitern

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The phrase Mein herzliches Beileid is used to express sympathy in the face of loss. Be careful not to get it mixed up in any way with the verb beleidigen, which means "to insult."

 

Herzliches Beileid, Lilly.

Heartfelt condolences, Lilly.

Caption 4, Lilly unter den Linden Kapitel 1: Im Krankenhaus

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Wenn man etwas durch die Blume sagt, dann bedeutet das, dass man sein Gegenüber nicht beleidigen möchte.

If you say something through the flower, then it means that you don't want to insult the other person.

Captions 7-8, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

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If you have unintentionally insulted someone or made a decision that affected someone adversely, you can also express regret with the verbs bereuen and bedauern.

 

Bereut er den Entschluss, sein Studium abgebrochen zu haben?

Does he regret the decision to have broken off his university studies?

Caption 62, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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Doch, doch! Obwohl ich noch immer bedauere, dass er damals nicht zu mir in die Firma gekommen ist.

Yes, yes! Although I still regret that he didn't join me in the company back then.

Captions 20-21, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Further Learning
Search for Entschuldigung, the verb sich entschuldigen, and the imperatives Entschuldigen Sie (formal) and Entschuldige (informal) on Yabla German to hear all of these options used in context. You can also look up the verb verzeihen. This is the best way to get an understanding of which expression is right for a particular kind of situation.

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