I repent what I did and will never do it again.

I will hurt myself because I repent what I did

Are both these sentences correct? if not, kindly provide some simple examples of it's usage.


2 Answers 2


Your use of "repent" is fine, but it's hard to say whether the word fits the context. It's not enough to know how to use a word -- you have to also know when that word is appropriate.

"Repent" is a fairly strong term. You might know from the dictionary that it means

feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin.

but you may not recognize that it really only is used for a significant transgression. You would not casually say something like:

I repent that I was late meeting you for lunch.

or, at least, not without irony. Save "repent" for the big crimes, otherwise use something less extreme: be sorry, apologize, regret, be ashamed, be contrite, feel remorse, feel reproach, etc.

In any case, just because you may "repent" something does not mean that you want to make amends for it. "Repentance" and "atonement" are two separate things: "I repent" says you understand what you did was wrong, and "I want to atone" says you want to make it right.

I would say that "atone" better fits your second example. Assuming the context is one of the more extreme religious sects that believes in purification through (self-inflicted) corporal punishment, a penitent might say:

I will scourge myself to atone for my sins.

It's an odd practice in this day and age, but not one that has gone entirely out of fashion. However, outside of this kind of limited context, saying that you seek atonement through self-molestation suggests you are mentally ill, and should get help.


You should say, "I repent FOR what I did." "Repent" does not take a direct object.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say with the second sentence. Do you mean, the speaker is so sorry for what he did that he is considering injuring or killing himself? Grammatically, you could say, "I will hurt myself because I repent for what I did", but I don't think we would use the word "repent" in this context. It doesn't really make sense psychologically or theologically. To "repent" is to decide you need to change your behavior, not to punish yourself. You might say, "I am so filled with remorse for what I did that I will hurt myself", or "I feel so much guilt ..."

  • "Confess yourself to heaven. Repent what’s past. Avoid what is to come." William Shakespeare, "Hamlet", Act 3 Scene 4 (among many others). Anyway, my point is that "repent" can take a direct object, although it's common to say "repent for" something.
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 22:01
  • @Andrew And "repent of"
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 22:45
  • 1
    @EddieKal Yes, that too. Looks like there's a nice discussion over on ELU english.stackexchange.com/questions/361272/…
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 22:55
  • @Andrew Thanks for the link! Very helpful discussion, and divided too!
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 22:59
  • @EddieKal My opinion is that "repent of" is more formal, and sounds nice in certain contexts. In most cases I wouldn't use either.
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 23:03

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