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How to Say “Sorry” in Polish to Sound Like a (Polite) Native Speaker

Bouquet of yellow tulips – saying “sorry” in Polish

Knowing how to say “sorry” in Polish can be incredibly helpful. The word has much more uses than most people give it credit for, even if it is already considered to be one of the fundamental expressions in the language.

To find a use for one of the several phrases listed below, you don’t really need to have anything serious to apologize for. Saying “sorry” in the right way might just as well help you ask someone for clarification, save face when you’ve committed a blunder, or simply appear polite when it’s expected.

This article will teach you when and how to say “sorry” in Polish to sound like a (perfectly polite) native speaker.

If you’d like to know how to say “thank you” in Polish, check out Saying “Thank You” in Polish: 7 Key Phrases.

(You can click the phrases to check their pronunciation at Forvo.)

Most common ways to say “sorry” in Polish

Przepraszam (“sorry”)

This is the direct translation of “sorry”, and the single most common way to apologize in Polish. In fact, the word has two primary uses:

  • Apologizing for something – most often, we say przepraszam when we’ve disappointed someone with our behavior or caused them an inconvenience in any other way. An example of that could be Przepraszam, że stłukłem twój ulubiony kubek (“Sorry that I broke your favorite cup.”)
  • Getting someone’s attention – we also say przepraszam when we want to ask a question or make a request. This is similar to how you use “excuse me” or “pardon” in English. A typical use case would be Przepraszam, czy mówi pani po angielsku? (“Excuse me, do you speak English?”)

If you’d like to say “sorry” in Polish on someone else’s behalf (e.g. when talking to your company’s customers), you can say przepraszamy (“we are sorry”) to emphasize that the apology comes from the entire group.

Bardzo przepraszam / przepraszam bardzo (“I’m very sorry”)

Putting bardzo before or after przepraszam adds additional emphasis to the apology.

If you’ve caused someone a lot of trouble or done something you’re really ashamed of, saying bardzo przepraszam or przepraszam bardzo will let you express your regret. Other emphatic ways to apologize in Polish include naprawdę przepraszam (“I’m really sorry”) and strasznie przepraszam (“I’m terribly sorry”).

Wybacz (“forgive me”)

This is a personal way to ask for someone’s forgiveness, mostly reserved for situations where we have hurt them in some way.

If you’re addressing more than one person, the correct form is wybaczcie.

Note that wybacz and wybaczcie are only used when you’re on familiar terms with the other person. With strangers and casual acquaintances, the appropriate expression is the impersonal proszę wybaczyć.

Other ways to say “sorry” in Polish

In English, “sorry” is used for more than strictly apologizing. The Polish przepraszam is a bit less versatile, which means you should also learn a few other phrases that will help you get through tricky situations.

Przykro mi (“I’m sorry”)

Unlike English, Polish has a separate phrase used when we simply want to empathize with someone.

If you feel sorry for the other person because of something that wasn’t your fault, you can express your regret by saying przykro mi.

It doesn’t really matter if you’re acting as the bearer of bad news (e.g. telling someone that they didn’t get the job they had interviewed for), or just hearing the news from that person (e.g. being told by your sister that she didn’t pass her driving test).

Just like with przepraszam, you can amplify it with bardzo by saying bardzo mi przykro.

Słucham? (“sorry?” / “pardon?”)

If you didn’t quite catch what someone has said, you can politely ask them to repeat it by saying słucham?

In English, this is mostly accomplished with words like “sorry?” or “pardon?”. In Polish, the usual way to go about this is to say słucham? with the same rising (question-like) intonation.

The literal translation of słucham is “I’m listening”.

Responding to “sorry” in Polish

When someone apologizes to you and you want to assure them that there’s nothing to worry about, use any of the three phrases below:

Example phrases with “sorry” in Polish

To make your apology more specific, you can add the preposition za followed by a phrase in the accusative case:

If you need to add a longer explanation, precede it with the conjunction że:

  • Przepraszam, że nie odpisałem na twój email. (“Sorry that I didn’t reply to your email.”)
  • Przepraszam, że zjadłem twoje śliwki. (“Sorry that I ate your plums.”)
  • Przepraszam, że zajęło to tyle czasu. (“Sorry that it took so long.”)

Or you can just get right to the point:

If you want to say you’re sorry when reacting to bad news, here’s how you can do it with przykro mi:

  • Przykro mi, nie mogę ci pomóc. (“I am sorry, I cannot help you.”)
  • Przykro mi to słyszeć. (“I am sorry to hear that.”)
  • Przykro mi, że straciłeś pracę. (“I am sorry that you lost your job.”)
  • Przykro mi z powodu twojej córki. (“I am sorry about your daughter.”)

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Test your skills and see what you’ve learned from this article by playing a selection of Polish sentences with “sorry” and related phrases:

Sign up here to save your progress and start getting fluent with thousands of Polish sentences at Clozemaster.

Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in Polish.

Take your Polish to the next level. Click here to start practicing with real Polish sentences!

2 thoughts on “How to Say “Sorry” in Polish to Sound Like a (Polite) Native Speaker”

  1. Pingback: Saying “Thank You” in Polish: 7 Key Phrases

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