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August 22, 2012

Here are some words/expressions meaning “Excuse-me” or “sorry” in French :

  • Pardon ! (Sorry !)
  • Désolé !  / Je suis désolé ! (m) / Je suis désolée ! (f) (I’m sorry !)
  • Excusez-moi (formal) / Excuse-moi (informal) (Excuse-me !)

If you step on someone’s foot, you will say :

Pardon / Excusez-moi / Désolé / Je suis désolé(e) !

When you want to stop someone in the street to ask him/her some information, you can say :

Excusez-moi / Pardon / Pardon, excusez-moi  !

!!! In this situation, you can’t say : Désolé / Je suis désolé.



For the pronunciation of “désolé”, you can listen to this song, titled “Désolé”, composed by the French rapper Kery James to commemorate the victims of 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Listen attentively, the word “désolé” is repeated many times :


For a comic take on French excessive use of common civilities watch this video showing Gad Elmaleh, a famous Moroccan French stand-up comedian, impersonating two people in a lift:

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