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How to say sorry


Owens88

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When I started our recent adventure in France a few years ago the - phrase 'desole' was new one on me that seemed to have not existed when I did O level.

However I am wary if over-using it. For instance , if I want to use sorry in the context of  'I am a sorry to be a trouble to you'  (or sorry for being a pain in the ...) it strikes me that desole is not the correct phrase to use.

 I would appreciate advice and..

...sorry for being a trouble.

John

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The problem is not what does it mean, the problem is to say it the right way !

Even french don't speak french correctly ! :)

If you want to speak " good french ", never say " je m'excuse ", but ... " excusez moi " or " excuse moi " ! :)
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Maybe I can throw a little light on the difference between "Je m'excuse." (never said alone) and "Excusez-moi".

If you have to leave a table early, you could say "Je dois m'excuser

maintenant." (I'll have to excuse myself (from the table) now.) (This

is still rare in French except perhaps in the politest of circles.) "Je

dois partir maintenant" is more common. If you phone a wrong number you

can say "Excusez-moi Monsieur/Madame."

But in fact this is as much a cutural question as a linguistic one.

Brits excuse themselves left, right and centre. We say "sorry" on the

answering machine when we aren't home to take a call. The French

language doesn't generally have a "sorry" or "excuse me" for being away

or closed or for not knowing street directions. This is a clutural

difference, or a way of looking at the need for the word "excuser".

The most common word used in French, for all these occassions and for

bumping into someone in the street is simply "pardon (Monsieur/Madame)".

Hope this helps and amuses,

Peter
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I was taught that Je m'excuse is actually rude as it means you are excusing yourself.  If you want to be polite, you should be asking others to excuse you, not demanding it of them[:D].  Excuse-moi, on the other hand, is asking others to excuse you. 

I understood that desolé is more an expression of regret e.g.  I'm sorry you lost your hat.

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Excusez moi, de vous avoir dérangé !
To all of you, thanks.

I also like the Pardon, or pardonnez-moi ?  Would this be the correct phrase for apologising for my poor French.

The Desole phrase was new to me, not part of my schoolboy French at all. In strict context terms I am not surprised - but its a phrase I hear allthe time when in France now.

Thanks

 

John

 

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You are right that "Je vous prie de m'excuser." is MORE common in

French, especially in written French. But that doesn't mean it's as

commly used as "sorry" is in English. As English speakers we simply

need to stop needing to feel "sorry" so often when speaking French.

This is nothing to do with one language being more polite that the

other,it's about different ways of being polite.

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Is this because generally speaking (especially in shops) desolé with a shrug of the shoulders tends to mean 'I couldn't care less that we don't have the thing you want, now go away and stop bothering me' [:)]  Cynical, moi???
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The general rule for anyone acting in a professional capacity in France (working in a shop, office, whatever) seems to be 'never apologise to a customer' - even when  you have just made a mistake like overcharging. So when I hear someone say 'desole' when they don't have something in stock, my heart glows at this little reminder of the customer service ethic. They still may not care less, but making some pretence at caring strikes me as basic politeness.

Jo

 

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There is an interesting webpage on apologising at www.chilton.com/paq/archive/PAQ-97-283.html. It says ' "Je m'excuse", ça va, c'est correct', but does also say that "excusez-moi" or "Je vous prie de m'excuser", etc., are more polite.
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Lizbeth, look what I got when I tried your link !  

Désolé, ce dossier n'existe pas!

I'll have another go in a minute...

The other day I nearly posted the same as Domy, but I held back thinking it would be taken from me as being pedant (but not from you Domy,  you are really French!) as I had also been told that "je m'excuse" was excusing yourself and "excusez-moi" was asking to be excused, therefore better.

Maybe the difference between excuser and désolé is that in the first you excuse yourself for something and in the second you are sorry about something.  You can also be navré about something.  Je suis navrée de vous avoir tenu la jambe...   [:$]

 

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[quote user="Christine Animal"]Lizbeth, look what I got when I tried your link !  

Désolé, ce dossier n'existe pas!

I'll have another go in a minute...

[/quote]

Christine,

Me too, then I realised that when I had copied and pasted the link, I had included the final full stop.  Deleted it an got the site.

Anne

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  • 2 weeks later...

Please forgive me for dragging this up again, lisbeth. Domy has already pointed out that this isn't a question of translation, but of correct use of the language.

Le Petit Robert 2004 edition - I think the current one - page 992 - "Je m'excuse, s'emploie incorrectement pour excusez-moi."

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There again, Collins-Robert dictionary (5th edition, not the current one I know!) gives 'Je m'excuse' as 'I'm sorry', followed by one asterisk. The solitary asterisk denotes language used by all educated people in a relaxed situation but not suitable for formal occasions when you wish to impress. (For comparison, in English it gives one asterisk for phrases such as 'take it easy' or 'let's get cracking'.)

I wouldn't want to be the one to deny the importance of colloquial language. I learned very formal French in England back in the sixties, and it took me a while to become familiar with everyday conversation when I went to live in France.
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[quote user="KatieKopyKat"]

[quote user="Patf"]What about " pardonnez-moi ". Is this only used for eg you bump into someone accidentally? Pat.
[/quote]

Hey Pat, Excuse Moi, but what would you say if you bumped into somebody on purpose?

[/quote]

You push your face in theirs and say -  "Eh alors?"

Oh no,  that's in Wales[:P]

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