How to say “I’m sorry” in Russian

Source: Alamy / Legion media

Source: Alamy / Legion media

There are several ways to apologize in Russian. Here are some of them.

Извини(те)and прости(те)

Use прости [pras-TEE] and извини [iz-vee-NEE] only when talking to someone you know very well, or anyone whom you would normally address in «ты».

Useпростите [pras-TEE-tye] and извините [iz-vee-NEE-tye] with anyone whom you would usually address in «вы», or when talking to several people.

So, what is the difference between извини(те) and прости(те)? It is safe to say that these words are synonyms, and they mean I’m sorry, excuse me, or pardon me. You can use them both when apologizing to someone. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

1. Извините, этого больше не повторится.

    I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.

2. Извини, пожалуйста, я больше не буду.

     Sorry, I won’t do this again.

3.  Простите, я не хотел.

     Excuse me, please, it was an accident. (Literally: Excuse me, please, I didn’t want.)

4.  Прости, зайка, я не хотел тебя обидеть.

     I’m sorry, zaika, I didn’t want to hurt you.

(Note: зайка is a diminutive form from noun заяц (hare, bunny) and is used as a term of endearment in Russian.


Using the Word “Пожалуйста” in an Apology

If you like, you can use the word пожалуйста (please) in your apology. A couple of examples:


Простите, пожалуйста, я не хотел.

Excuse me, please, it was an accident. (Literally: Excuse me, please, I didn’t want)

Прости, пожалуйста
I’m sorry.


Note that you can put the word “Пожалуйста” at the beginning of the sentence or at the end:

Пожалуйста, извини меня.

Please forgive me.


Извини меня, пожалуйста.

Forgive me, please.

Пожалуйста, простите меня.

Please forgive me.


Простите меня, пожалуйста.

Forgive me please.


Using Извини(те) and Прости(те) in Polite Speech

Извини(те) and прости(те) сan also be used in polite speech instead of English expression “excuse me”. For example, if someone is on your way and you need to ask them to move, you can say:
Извините, разрешите пройти.
Excuse me, allow me to pass.

or when you are asking for directions:

Простите, пожалуйста, вы не подскажете где вокзал?
Excuse me, please, can you tell me where the railway station is?


How to Reply to an Apologyin Russian 


If you would like to say to someone that you are forgiving them, use the verbs прощать and извинять. These words are synonyms and both of them mean “to forgive”, or “to excuse” someone.

Прощать [pra-SHCHAT’] forgive

Извинять [eez-vee-NYAT’] forgive

Я прощаю тебя (вас) – I’m forgiving you
Я извиняю тебя (вас) – I’m forgiving you
Я уже простил тебя (вас) – I forgave you already

Usually in Russian you will often hear these replies to an apology, they can be used in formal and informal speech:

Ничего [nee-chee-VO] no worries
Ничего страшного [nee-chee-VO STRASH-na-va] no worries

Бывает [bi-VA-yet] it happens, things happen

You can also use these expressions, but only in informal Russian:

Ладно, забыли! [LAD-na za-BI-lee]

Проехали!  [pra-YE-ha-lee]

They can be translated into English as “all right, let’s forget about it”.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of the conversations:

Informal Situations


- Ой, извини, я случайно.
- Да ничего. Бывает!

- Oh, I'm sorry, it was an accident.
-  It’s okay. Things happen.


- Прости, пожалуйста, я больше не буду.
- Ладно, проехали!

- Please forgive me. I won’t do this again.

- Okay, let’s forget about it.

Formal Situations


- Извините за опоздание. Этого больше не повторится.
- Ничего страшного. Проходите. 

- I apologize for being late. This won’t happen again.   

- It’s okay. Come on in.


- Простите, который час?
- Пол второго.

- Excuse me, what time is it?

- Half past one.  

These are just a few expressions, and if you would like to learn more ways to apologize in Russian, as well as how to express your sympathy in Russian, read my article “The Many Ways to Say “I’m Sorry” in Russian”.

Have fun learning Russian!

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