10 Phrases to Replace Saying “Sorry”

It’s time to eliminate “sorry” from your repertoire. Lena Dunham touched on an all-too-familiar feeling in a recent essay Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction on a topic that so many of us can relate to.


“Apologizing is a modern plague and I’d be willing to bet (though I have zero scientific research to back this up) that many women utter ‘I’m sorry’ more on a given day than ‘Thank You’ and ‘You’re Welcome’ combined,” she says.

In fact, there have been studies on this very topic, according to Psychology Today. A recent set of studies conducted by Karina Schumann and Michael Ross found that female participants apologized more in their daily lives than male participants.

“Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offenses. There was no gender difference in the proportion of offenses that prompted apologies. This finding suggests that men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior.”

A classic example I see in the workplace is when during a discussion, someone misinterprets what’s being said. Often women will address miscommunications of this nature with “sorry, let me clarify,” when a simple “actually, let me clarify” would do. What’s up with that, ladies? Why do we feel the urge to apologize for our very existence? Let’s stop this madness and assert ourselves, please.

Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offenses.

Muse writer Angeline Evans chimed in on the topic on why such behavior is problematic especially in the workplace.

“Picking and choosing what missteps are worthy of an apology demonstrates your grasp (or lack) of professional judgment,” she says. “If you offer the same effusive apology for not bringing a notepad to a meeting as you do for missing an important deadline, you’re essentially putting the two gaffes on the same level, though they’re not even close.”


I like to stay solution-oriented which is why I appreciated The Everygirl’s Lyndsay Rush’s suggestions in her piece Stop Apologizing: We’re Ending the Harmful Habit who shared these steps to begin weening yourself away from apology addiction:

4 Steps for Eliminating “Sorry”

1. Spend a day keeping track of your sorries. (Or, just take mental notes over time)

2. Ask yourself what you really want to express.

3. Know when a real apology is warranted.

To this list, I’d like to add my own step…

4. Use these alternative phrases 

It’s nice to have an arsenal of word tracks to choose from to eliminate such a long-standing habit. I’m convinced you can get rid of “sorry” altogether, no matter the circumstance.

For me, I’ve found that the best everyday replacement to “sorry” is simply “thank you.” For example, when I know someone has been waiting a long time for an email response from me, instead of beginning a reply email with “Sorry it took me so long to get back to you,” I’ll start by saying “Thank you for your patience.”

“Picking and choosing what missteps are worthy of an apology demonstrates your grasp (or lack) of professional judgment.” –Angeline Evans

I’ve actually been working on this habit for years, due in part to my little brother’s advice who advised me long ago to simply use the phrase “I apologize” in situations that truly warrant it. These are a few of my preferred go-tos in such cases:

Below is a complete list of alternative phrases to use inclusive of those pictured in this post. I know I promised only 10 but, congrats! You get a bonus list of 10 additional ideas for alternative phrases to replace “sorry” below. Did I miss any? What tips have you used to avoid saying “sorry” when it’s unnecessary? Let me know in the comments or better yet, tweet me. For the record, I catch myself saying “sorry” constantly. It’s a work in progress.

20 Phrases to Replace Saying “Sorry”

  1. It’s unfortunate that…
  2. Unfortunately…
  3. It’s too bad that…
  4. I’d like to apologize…
  5. Excuse me…
  6. Pardon me…
  7. How sad for you…
  8. I sympathize with your frustration…
  9. What a shame that…
  10. Forgive my oversight…
  11. I regret that…
  12. This situation fills me with regret…
  13. Yes, absolutely…
  14. I must admit that…
  15. It was not my intent…
  16. Actually, no…
  17. Thank you for your patience…
  18. How sad for you that (this) happened…
  19. I am unhappy about the inconvenience you’ve been caused
  20. This situation has filled me with regret…

9 Facts that Prove that Geena Davis is a Badass

Some facts about the Academy Award-winning Actress who is also a serious advocate for gender equality and diversity in the film industry and basically our sher-o:

1. First off, let’s assess the astrology sign, shall we? Davis is a Capricorn-Aquarius cusp baby, born January 21, 1956 in Wareham, Massachusetts. Cusp people rule the world, Geena. Thanks for the reminder.

2. Her film roles include The Fly, Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Accidental Tourist for which she won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress… But our favorite, of course, is her role as Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own. Even though Dottie quit the game to scurry off to be a housewife, she still slayed at baseball and Geena showed us what life was like for the ladies in the dark pre-women’s lib era.


3. As if an Oscar wasn’t enough, Davis is also a Golden Globe winner. She took the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series for her portrayal of MacKenzie Allen in Commander in Chief. Collect those awards like a boss, Geena… You’re halfway to EGOT status, girl.

4. Random life skill: Davis was a women’s Olympics archery team semi-finalist. Ok now you’re just showing of, Geena.


5. She also had a long-standing guest appearance ABC’s medical drama television series Grey’s Anatomy portraying surgeon Dr. Herman. Way to rock the positive-female-role-model vibe while working with another amazing crush-worthy goddess of entertainment that is Shonda Rimes. High five, Geena.

6. Her (fourth) husband in is an Iranian-American plastic surgeon with whom she has three children including a daughter and twin sons. No shame in the divorce game, Geena. Birthing two babies at once while raising another tiny human is no joke. Mad respect, Geena.


7. Davis spearheaded the largest research project ever undertaken on gender in children’s entertainment at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC that showed that there are 3 males for every 1 female character in nearly 400 rated-G, PG-13, and R-Rated movies. I mean, WTF is up with that? Thanks for bringing that to light for us, Geena.

8. Davis launched The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2007, focused on reducing stereotyping females by a male-dominated film industry. Again, way to take it to the next level, Geena. You’re, like, inspiring us all over the place with your overachieving nature for a totally righteous cause, girl.

9. Just this week, Davis has launched an annual film festival to be held in Bentonville, Arkansas to highlight diversity in film, accepting films that prominently feature minorities and women in the cast and crew. The inaugural Bentonville Film Festival will occur May 5-9, 2015. Already kicking off 2015 with a bang, Geena. Making our vision board look pretty mediocre, girl.

Love you, Geena.

Image: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures


Azam Alwi photography

If my name you might recall
Take this into dreams with you
Lightweight made, small but true
Nothing to intrude on you
From the distances of days
Lifetimes shed and ones to make
Take this to your heart unseen
Gentle shred that it might be
Of my heart given once to thee,
Take it with you as you go
Wisp of my love given free
For all your love I did not know
To spite the God that made it so

July 24, 1998

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Take poem by Desmond. Poems Unrequited blog.

Image via Huffington Post

Copyright © 2014 Poems Unrequited. All rights reserved.

If A Beauty Comes

Josh Olins photography

If a beauty comes with claim of me
Tangle it in silver threads I will
Of lights of moons that rose and fell
The soft of every petal touched
Strands of silken Summer blush
The damp of grape wet by the dews
For wines the love crushed love of you,
So if Beauty comes to me
Declaring a propriety
For gifts of earth Earth’s given me
I’ll admit my slavery.
But go with Beauty will I not
Unless Beauty hears my plea
For I will tell her of my braids
I twined in my you new made
In this world stark made for graves
Beauty weaved I long ago
Knotted to my breath’s own soul
Heart of your love that I knew
Of beauty was enough for me
If Beauty comes with claim you see
I’ll say of Beauty I’ve no need
But for the beauty that is thee,
And of Beauty I’ll eschew
For all that I find Beautiful
Is beautiful the beauty that is you

July 27, 1998

Poems Unrequited Blog: If A Beauty Comes love poem by Desmond.

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Image by Josh Olins.

Copyright © 2014 Poems Unrequited. All rights reserved.

In Buddha’s Pure Land

Buddha's Pure Land: Poems Unrequited

In Buddha’s Pure Land
All the lovers will return
Virgins again unscarred by
Flames the tears and kisses

The children lost too
Will return on sweet breath
Only morning can grow
From bones become the grasses

In Buddha’s Pure Land
Wholehearted once again
I will love you each my lassies
When His finger is amused
To stir His bright ashes

July 24, 1998

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Buddha's Pure Land poem by Desmond: Poems Unrequited

Copyright © 2014 Poems Unrequited. All rights reserved.

The Nights

PoL Úbeda Hervàs

The nights
Longer and longer
Spark from the gallop of day
Too soon come
Underfoot the endless trail
I take to dawning

Bells ring for eventide
Match flares in the dark
Bring the memories of filled hands
Heavy and wet with the lotions of love

In the dark I wave them
Featherweight before my eyes
Two wilted petals
I keep hidden from the wind
Or they will be flung
Off in the midnight breath

Slowly the wafting
The night’s breeze
Of love’s death

Written January 27, 1995

Poems Unrequited The Nights

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Image by PoL Úbeda Hervàs 
Copyright © 2014 Poems Unrequited. All rights reserved.

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