Top Tips for IELTS

Apology words and phrases for letters

Here are some useful words and phrases for apology letters. You should note that I have divided into different categories as it is important that you choose you language carefully according to the situation. The idea is that you need different phrases according to

how well you know the person – more formal/less formal

how big a problem you are apologising for

You will find an exercise at the end of the lesson to test your skills.

How to break the bad news

The first step is normally to show that something bad has happened. The two key words and phrases help you explain something bad has happened for which you need to apologise are


I’m afraid that

Another nice phrase for more informal letters is

I’ve got some bad news to break/tell you

A simple apology

If it is a small problem you may just need to say sorry. You should see though that you need to think about whether you want to use but/that/for

I’m sorry but  – “I’m sorry but I won’t be able to come to the party”

I’m sorry that – “I’m sorry that I broke you mug

I’m sorry for – “I’m sorry for not having replied sooner

A stronger apology

These are phrases that work when there is a bigger mistake

I do apologise for – “I do apologise for failing to meet you at the station”

I must apologise for – “I really must apologise for 

I sincerely apologise for – “I sincerely apologise for the trouble this has caused you”

 Being more informal

If you are writing to a friend you may choose to use a more informal phrase:

I’m ever so sorry – “I’m ever so sorry that we won’t see each other next week

I’m really sorry – I’m really sorry that I’ve lost that book you lent me”

Being more formal

Again, if you’re writing to someone you don’t know that well you want  a more formal phrase. Typically, we use either the verb apologise or the noun apology.

I would like to apologise – “I would like to apologise for missing my appointment with you

Please accept my apologies for – “Please accept my apologies for the disturbance caused”


 Thinking about the consequences

 Something else you may need to do is to apologise for any difficulty. These phrases should help:

I’m sorry if this puts you out an idiom appropriate for informal letters

I do apologise for any inconvenience caused – a more formal variation

I hope that this does not cause you any problems – a more neutral variation

Test your skills


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9 Responses to Apology words and phrases for letters

  1. Gaurangi April 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Send me more vocab

  2. Raushan April 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    I definitely enjoyed the exercise, although it will be very helpful for us if you could provide similar exercises for the another tasks too.

    • Dominic Cole April 27, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      I’m on the job right now! But you should see that my essay and speaking pages also have loads of exercises too.

  3. Amelia Karabo October 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    I really loved the test that i was given and keep up the good work

  4. marwan November 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    100% yes! I am an excellent seven grader.

  5. arpan August 20, 2015 at 5:48 am #

    that was really helpful

  6. jude June 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Nice work u have here, really working for me thanks

  7. Ritesh March 29, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    Excellent Material but font is very fine and thin. Very difficult to read on web browsers.

    • Dominic Cole March 30, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks for letting me know. It seems fine on my computer but I have a big desktop. I’ll see if I can find a better font

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