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How to Say "I'm Sorry": The Apology Poem

I'm an author of a book of essays. My poems, essays, and short fiction have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

A word about apologies

I do public speaking, and I have a talk titled "All About Apologies ... and Forgiveness."

I discuss the importance of apologizing correctly--what to do and what not do. I heap scorn on the non-apology apology--the false apologies that blame the wronged person or group more than the person who is supposedly apologizing.

I recommend that everyone remember the three "R's" of apologizing if they are genuinely sorry. The three "r's" are remorse, reparation, and renunciation. Without the 3 R's, an apology is just empty words.

I usually read "The Apology Poem" during my talk. It's a funny poem. Everyone laughs and it helps make the message memorable.

Enjoy the poem.

The "Apology Puppy" Says "I Am Sorry"

Saying "I am sorry" is important, but it is  just the first step in an apology.

Saying "I am sorry" is important, but it is just the first step in an apology.

The Apology Poem

I’ll tell you what really riles me--

It’s the non-apology apology.

It begins with, “If you were offended”--

Now that is an apology up-ended.

It adds new offense to the offensive.

He is clearly just being defensive.

His error, he refuses to recognize,

So what follows is just a pack of lies.

He thinks we can’t see through his game--

He’s saying we are the ones to blame.

He says that it is political correctness run amok

And this whole brouhaha is just his bad luck.

It’s all our fault, in his eyes.

“You’re just too sensitive,” he implies.

“I shouldn’t be facing this demand.

If only you could understand.”

And then he may try to explain,

With excuses that sound inane.

His explanations are so spurious

It leaves us all the more furious.

Here’s the right way to do an apology.

You say it straight-up with sincerity.

It’s not so hard, you can do it,

And then we can be through with it

You say, “I’m sorry and then

Add this, “I won’t do it again.

I was wrong, I now recognize,

And I do humbly apologize.”

“Yes, this was my bad,

So now there’s this I must add:

My very best, I will do

To make it up to you.

Furthermore, I have learned my lesson

I will not do or say this again.

I take responsibility for this blooper.

I promise to do better in the future.

Remember this and it will be easy

There are three R’s in an apology.

First Remorse, then Reparation,

And most important, Renunciation.

And that is all there is to it.

Stop whining and just do it.

Then it will be over with,

And we can start to forgive.

Politicians Often Give the Non-Apology Apology

Politicians hate to admit that they have said something offensive.

Politicians hate to admit that they have said something offensive.

Give your opinion of the non-apology Apology

Get the Apology Right

Brenda Lee gets the remorse part right

I love the song, "I'm Sorry," by Brenda Lee. It was a hit in the sixties.

Brenda gives a moving apology expressing heart-felt remorse. Too bad she didn't also sing about reparation and renunciation.

Nonetheless, it is a great song. It is the song that inspired me to write my speech on the subject of apologies. I play a few bars of the song as an introduction to the speech.

Brenda Lee Sings "I'm Sorry"

Apologies are important the world over.

No matter where you are in the world, it is important to know how to say "I am sorry." it is always a plus if you can say "I'm sorry" in the language of the person to whom you are apologizing. It shows you cared enough to go to a little extra effort.

The chart below lists the phrase "I am sorry" in 15 different languages.The list even includes Esperanto. For languages which do not use the Latin alphabet as English does, the phrase has been transliterated.

One more thing--if you are apologizing in Japan, remember to give the apology with a slight bow of the head to indicate sincerity.

Saying "I'm Sorry" is Important Wherever You Are

All around the world, people say "I am  sorry."

All around the world, people say "I am sorry."

People the world over say "I'm sorry." The phrases in the chart below will allow you to say "I'm sorry" in 15 different languages. No matter where you are in the world, you will have the appropriate words for an apology.

How to Say "I Am Sorry" in 15 Different Languages

*Languages with an asterisk have been transliterated into the Latin (English) alphabet.



I am sorry


Wǒ hěn bàoqiàn


Jeg er ked af


Het spijt me


Mi bedaŭras


Je suis désolé


Es tut mir leid




Mi dispiace




Jeg beklager


Ya izvinyayus'


Lo siento




Jag är ledsen

Apologize with a gift

An Entire Website Devoted to Apologies

© 2014 Catherine Giordano