Writing Great Emails: Apologizing



(1) Apology, To apologize, Apologies: When you say that you’re sorry

He apologized for being late, but I couldn’t accept his apology. This happens too often. I’m tired of his apologies.

(2) To mess up: To make a mistake

I really messed up this time. I hope she doesn’t fire me.

(3) Blame: Responsibility for something bad

I blame our old technology. It makes everything go so slowly.



1. What can you write in order to accept blame?

a. That was my fault.

b. It’s unfortunate that happened.

c. I heard they messed up your order.

2. What can you write to blame an unknown person?

a. It was wrong that I…

b. I understand that…

c. You’ll accept my apologies for…

3. What is the best length for an apology email?

a. Short

b. Medium

c. Long


Writing Great Emails


En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

Everyone makes mistakes. We feel terrible and we need to apologize. But how?

In this post, you’ll learn a few different ways to say that you’re sorry.

Review the situation and apologize

The first step in an apology email is to describe the bad thing that happened and say that you’re sorry. You should describe the situation simply and directly. Don’t write a lot. The other person probably already knows what happened. Still, you have to say something. Here are some examples:

I just learned that you didn’t receive your order. That was my fault. I’m really sorry.

I wanted to apologize for not telling you about the change.

I understand that you didn’t receive the order. Please accept my apologies.

It was unfortunate that you had such a bad experience at the show. I’m sorry that had to happen.

Note that in the first two examples, you did something wrong, so you accept responsibility. To focus the blame on yourself, say I. If it’s unclear who was wrong, you can say that was my fault. That means you accept the blame.

In the third and fourth examples, it seems like someone else was wrong. Sometimes you need to say sorry even though you didn’t make the mistake. I understand that and It was unfortunate that are good ways to do this. You don’t want to name the person who made the mistake. This lets you describe the bad thing without blaming anyone at all.

Please accept my apologies and I’m sorry that had to happen are good phrases in either situation. They’re formal and polite. They can be used in most situations.

Casual Apologies

Not every company or every person likes such formal language as above. For example, if you’ve been working with someone for a while and you’re friendly, the language above would seem strange. How can you apologize to a friend? Here are some examples.

I messed up with that. Sorry.

I really screwed that up.

Just needed to say sorry for that meeting yesterday.

In all three situations, you’re using casual language. Messed up and screwed up are both very casual. In the third example, just needed to is an informal way to start a sentence.

What’s next?

After saying that you’re sorry, you should suggest a solution if it’s possible. Then change the topic and end with something happier. Try to focus on the future and what’s going to happen next.

Don’t write a long email.

After you say you’re sorry and change the topic, end the email. It’s usually good advice to write short emails, but it’s especially important with apologies. Nothing good happens when you write details about how sorry you are or a long explanation about what went wrong. It doesn’t make the person feel better. If they need a long explanation, you might have to write more, but it will be better to meet with them than to write about it.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.


Answers To Today’s Questions

A, B, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

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