What is the properly way to say "I made a mistake due to carelessness", meaning that I did it accidentally and without intent, and I'm very sorry about that?

Something close in meaning to the Russian "Я ошиблась по невнимательности" or "Я совершила ошибку нечайно".

To make the context clearer: at work, I did not fully understand the client's requirements, and did some of the work wrong, and later I may have to discuss this in a meeting with the client.

There are many words that look almost like synonyms for "carelessness" to me: inattention, inadvertence, remissness, thoughtlessly and so on. What are the differences in the use of these words? What can be used in this situation? Which one fits best in my case? Might it be better to rephrase this with more words?

  • "I made a mistake due to carelessness" is a perfectly normal and understandable statement. However, a strict judge (e.g. a paying client) would argue that it was not exactly "accidental" since you were careless when your duty was to be careful. Are you sure that you want to make such an admission? Surely you should get your manager's clearance before making any admission that might damage your employer's reputation or standing. Oct 8, 2020 at 7:56
  • If you have to give detail, you could say "I did not fully understand your (the client's) requirements, and did some of the work wrong, but I now fully understand the requirements." Oct 8, 2020 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


Carelessness literally means that you acted 'without care'. Carelessness certainly can lead to accidents, but that word alone doesn't imply you are without blame. In the UK, 'Careless Driving' (also known as 'driving without due care and attention') is a punishable offence. However, admitting that you acted carelessly can show that you have only just come to realise that you did not take care.

If you want to be clear that it was without intent then you could use the word unintentional:

I'm sorry for my mistake, it was completely unintentional.

Or, a more informal way would be:

I'm sorry for my mistake, I didn't mean it.

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