This Must Be the Place: Apologizing - Functional Language

Apologizing in English is functional language that makes a difference when dealing with native speakers of the language. I used this scene to lead in the topic. This activity can be used with any level. In the end of the instructions, there are apologizing functions, according  to the students' level of proficiency.

I. Discuss these questions with a partner:

1. Why is it important to apologize?

2. Does it matter the way you apologize? How so?

3. Is it hard for you to apologize? Or does it depend to whom you are talking?

4. How do you feel when someone does not apologize for something wrong they have done?

 5. Look at some reasons why you should apologize. Don't forget to visit it. It is worth doing it. Decide if you agree with them and why.

  • Apologizing when you've broken a rule of social conduct -- from cutting in line to breaking the law -- re-establishes that you know what the "rules" are, and you agree that they should be upheld. This allows others to feel safe knowing you agree that hurtful behavior isn't OK. 
  • Apologies re-establish dignity for those you hurt. Letting the injured party know that you know it was your fault, not theirs, helps them feel better, and it helps them save face.
  • Apologizing helps repair relationships by getting people talking again, and makes them feel comfortable with each other again.
  • A sincere apology allows you to let people know you're not proud of what you did, and won't be repeating the behavior. That lets people know you're the kind of person who is generally careful not to hurt others, and puts the focus on your better virtues, rather than on your worst mistakes.

  6. Look at some ways and reasons for apologizing:

 Expressing Regret – Saying, “I am sorry.”

Accepting Responsibility – Admitting, “I was wrong.”

Making Restitution – Committing, “I will make it right.”

Genuinely Repenting – Promising, “I will not do that again.”

Requesting Forgiveness – Asking, “Will you forgive me?”

    II. Here are some ways of apologizing, according to the student's proficiency level:



    • I apologize
    • I'm really sorry
    • I'm so sorry
    • I'm sorry
    • I'm sorry but...
    • Sorry


    • my fault
    • (I'm) sorry if...
    • I (really) must apologize
    • I hope you can forgive me (one day)
    • I really am so sorry
    • I wasn't doing my job
    • I'd like to apologize
    • Please forgive me


    • ...was very...of me
    • (I know) my actions...
    • (Looking back), I (now) realise that...
    • (Please) don't be angry
    • I accept (full) responsibility
    • I am/feel (so) ashamed
    • I can understand how you feel (about...)
    • I do apologize
    • I don't know what to say
    • I really am most terribly sorry
    • I regret...
    • I take (all) the blame
    • Pardon me!
    • Please accept my/our apologies
    • Please excuse my behaviour/thoughtlessness/...


    • (I now realise that/I know) I shouldn't have done that
    • (I'm sure) you must be (very) disappointed in me
    • (Please) don't be mad (at me)/don't kill me
    • I accept that I am to blame/that it's my fault
    • I am (such) an idiot
    • I am sorry to have disappointed you
    • I apologize wholeheartedly/unreservedly
    • I cannot say/express how sorry I am
    • I have reflected on my actions and...
    • I know it was wrong (of me) (to...)
    • If I could turn back the clock,...
    • It was (a bit) insensitive of me (to...)
    • Please accept my sincere/sincerest apologies
    • There is (really/absolutely) no excuse for my actions/behaviour/inaction/laziness
    • You are right to blame me
    • You must forgive me


    • (I know) I have let myself/you (all) down (by...)
    • (I know) it was thoughtless (of me)
    • I can see how you might be annoyed (by...)
    • I can't believe I...
    • I don't know what came over me
    • I don't know what got into me
    • I just want the ground to swallow me up
    • I take (full) responsibility
    • I think I went a bit too far
    • I am/was in the wrong
    • I messed up
    • I would like to express my regret
    • I'm happy to take (my share of) the blame
    • If I could take it all back, I would
    • It was inexcusable
    • It's unforgivable, I know
    • Please don't hold a grudge/don't hold this against me
    • Silly me!

      III. Watch the movie segment.
      1. Describe the scene.
      2. Why do you think the driver decided to do that.
      3. Role Play the situations below:
      Student A: You are the driver. Apologize for what you have just done. You are truly sorry for what happened.
      Student B: You are one the people running on the road. Accept the apologies politely.
      Student A: You are the driver. Apologize for what you have done, but you think they should not be running where they were.
      Student B: You are one of the people running on the road. Do not accept the apologies. You think the driver was very rude.
      Student A: You are the driver. Apologize, but do not be sincere. You don't really think it was your fault.
      Student B; You are one of the people running on the road. Accept the apologies, but give him advice for safer driving procedures.
      IV. Read the situations below and role play the situation with a partner. Apologize for what happened.
      1. Your friend traveled and asked you to water his/her plants. You forgot to do it and all his/her plants died while he/she was away.
      2. Your friend asked you to take care of the dogs, but you can't do it because you are allergic to pets' fur.
      3. Your friend asked you to take their of the children during the afternoon, but you forgot to feed the baby.
      4. You asked for your friend's car while yours was at the mechanic. You crashed the car while parking it.
      5. You borrowed some money from your friend. Now you don't have money to pay back.
      6. You parked your car in the handicapped space without realizing it. When you finally picked up your car, someone on a wheelchair had been waiting for you to leave the parking space for one hour.


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