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Russian Phrases for Apologizing

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Apologizing is an important social skill in any culture, but especially so in Russian where politeness and proper etiquette are highly valued. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to polish your Russian language skills, familiarizing yourself with common phrases of apology will greatly aid in your communication. Below are some essential Russian phrases for apologizing along with their definitions and usage examples.

Простите (Prostite)
This is a formal way of saying “Excuse me” or “Sorry.” It can be used in both formal and informal situations when you have made a minor mistake or when you need to get someone’s attention.
Простите, я опоздал на пять минут.
(Excuse me, I am five minutes late.)

Извините (Izvinite)
Similar to “простите,” this phrase also means “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry” and is used in formal and respectful circumstances.
Извините, что прерываю вас.
(Sorry for interrupting you.)

Мне жаль (Mne zhal)
This expression translates directly to “I’m sorry” or “I regret” and is used to express sympathy or apologize for a situation that may have caused inconvenience or disappointment.
Мне жаль, но я не смогу прийти сегодня.
(I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to come today.)

Прошу прощения (Proshu proshcheniya)
A formal apology that means “I beg your pardon” or “I ask for forgiveness.” This phrase indicates a deeper level of remorse.
Прошу прощения за задержку отчёта.
(I beg your pardon for the report delay.)

Мне стыдно (Mne stydno)
This phrase expresses personal embarrassment or shame and translates to “I am ashamed.” It is more personal and indicates that you feel bad about what happened.
Мне стыдно за то, как я поступил в тот вечер.
(I am ashamed of how I acted that evening.)

Прости меня (Prosti menya)
An informal and heartfelt way to say “Forgive me” to friends or close acquaintances.
Прости меня, я не хотел тебя обидеть.
(Forgive me, I didn’t mean to offend you.)

Извини (Izvini)
This is a less formal form of “Извините” and is used with friends and people who are the same age or younger. It translates to a casual “Sorry.”
Извини, я забыл позвонить тебе вчера.
(Sorry, I forgot to call you yesterday.)

Я понимаю, что я не прав (Ya ponimayu, chto ya ne prav)
A phrase which means “I realize that I am wrong,” signaling acknowledgment of a mistake and offers a good way to start the process of making amends.
Я понимаю, что я не прав, и мне очень жаль.
(I realize that I am wrong, and I am very sorry.)

Understanding these phrases will not only help in making apologies but also in interpreting when someone is making amends with you. The Russian language often reflects the cultural importance of respect and relationships, and knowing how to apologize properly is a key part of that. Whether you’re navigating everyday conversations or seeking to mend a misstep, these phrases will help you express your remorse and move forward with grace in Russian-speaking contexts.

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