I'm confused using these words.

a) Sorry
b) Forgive me
c) Excuse me

Someone explaining with examples will be helpful. Also, how do we use these words differently>


3 Answers 3


In everyday British English we say "Excuse me" before we inconvenience somebody and "(I am) sorry" after we have inconvenienced them. We also use "(I am) sorry" as an apology for not being able to fit in with somebody's request:

"Could you look after my cat this weekend, please?"

"Sorry, I can't. I am away myself."

"Forgive me" tends to be a polite formula when no real apology is expected or offered: "Forgive me if I get straight to the point, but I have very little time".

  • Maybe this is a regional thing, but in the U.S. you might well say "excuse me" after inconveniencing someone. Like, "Hey, you stepped on my foot!" "Oh, excuse me. I didn't mean to."
    – Jay
    Oct 29, 2014 at 14:08
  • And you could say "I'm sorry" before inconveniencing someone. Like, "I'm sorry, but I have to ask you to step aside. You're blocking the doorway."
    – Jay
    Oct 29, 2014 at 14:09

I'm not sure whether the question is too broad to answer but here is what I can come up to help you little.

Broadly, we say 'sorry' if we have done some mistake and it is an expression of apology.

Example (live?) could be you stepping on someone's feet and saying....

Sorry, did I hurt you?

It can also be used to politely accept your mistake. For instance...

Sorry, I don't remember your name

Apart from this, sorry is also used if you did not hear something properly.

Example could be of someone telling you their room number but you did not get it...

My room number is XXX ~ Sorry? Then the person will repeat it again probably in a clearer way - My room number is 409

'Forgive me' is said if you have committed some sin or have done some wrongdoing to someone and you repent.

Example could be of you gave someone's vital information to the third party.

I know I sold that information. I regret that. Please forgive me.

It's a kind of asking for forgiving i.e. please forget what all happened and give me a chance.

'Excuse me' can be used for apology, drawing someone's attention and also to repeat what is said (just like sorry).

Examples could be...

Excuse me for my language. I was a bit aggressive (apology)
Excuse me, can you get me that pen? (attention)
Excuse me! ~ Oh, I said 38273 (asking to repeat)

Please mind that these are just common usages and there could be many more than what I mentioned. Good practice is read or watch videos where such expressions are used.


"Sorry" and "forgive me" mean essentially the same thing and are largely interchangeable. Either one means that you have done some wrong and wish to apologize. Maybe, maybe, "forgive me" is a stronger expression of regret. The wrong may be big or small. One could say, "I'm sorry that I forgot your birthday" or "I'm sorry for killing your brother."

"Excuse me" is a very mild form of apology used when the offense is minor or accidental, or when you have not done anything wrong in any moral or ethical sense but are simply inconveniencing another person. Like if you accidentally step on someone's foot in a crowded room, you might say, "Oh, excuse me". ("Sorry" would also be appropriate here as you have caused the person some, albeit minor, injury.) Or of someone is standing in your way and you would like them to move aside, you might say, "Excuse me, can you step aside so I can get to the coffee maker?" or whatever.

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