Apologizing is extremely important in most cultures. Here in Thailand, people don’t say “excuse me” or “I’m sorry.” This is a major disadvantage because when I go to another country, I have to quickly turn off my “Thainess” and go back to civility (showing moral, character and compassion). It could be a big problem, especially in a country like Singapore. So, here are some expressions for saying sorry and replying to apologies.
Pardon me: This is an expression that’s either used in England/Australia, and possibly used a half-century ago in America. To this day, I’ve never used this expression. Some people would, and still say it in formal settings though.
I’m sorry: This is the most informal/common expression to use. Yes, it’s polite (Thai people would ask me all the time). There are useful ways to show more compassion for what you’ve done.
Ex: “Omg, I’m so….so sorry for that!”
If you know you’ve done a disservice, it’s great to use this expression, especially in countries like America, to avoid conflict.
Excuse me: Simple gesture that most people in the world use to make way. Now, I’ll give you an example. Singapore, which is an amazing country, has taught their citizens about etiquette — to the max. When the train stops, people who are leaving all say excuse me. Not once and in an impolite way, either.
Responding to apologies.
Some of these can be debatable, but they are legit.
It’s ok: Now, don’t use this often. If someone makes repeated mistakes over and over, they will think you’re a “walk over” — haha. However, if someone accidentally hits you and says, “I’m sorry,” I normally always reply with a simple “it’s ok” — and a smile.
Don’t worry about it: Depending on the tone, this could be good, or horrible bad. If you know you did something wrong and showed up late for an event, you can probably get one of these responses: “don’t worry about it,” but in a very bold tone. If you do, you messed up. However, it can also mean that someone is irritated.
Never mind: Now this one is GOLD! I thought for so LONG that a teacher, who I used to work with, was wrong. Every time I would apologize, he would say “never mind.” It didn’t make much sense, but it is legitimate. This is a very friendly apology.
It’s not that important: That means that it is important. I never hear people say this anymore unless it’s in a business setting.
That’s the last time I lend you anything!: Boom! You’re in big trouble! Say this only to your brother and sisters, and know that your actions have ramifications.
I’ll make it up to you: This is a sweet and kind way to reply to your girlfriend if you didn’t buy the thing at the store you said you would.
It doesn’t matter: It’s the same as “it’s not that important.”