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Apologies in Japanese

Contents in Apology Unit:

As you move through examples and exercises, you will learn about apologies in Japanese.

In apologizing, the speaker recognizes the infraction or offense caused through his/her fault and attempts to repair the relationship with the hearer. The situation may be fairly tense if the infraction is large or if the hearer is in a more powerful position on the social scale than you. What are some routinized patterns in apologies in Japanese and what strategies work most effectively to repair and maintain a good relationship with the hearer?

Exercise 1-2: Cross-Cultural Comparison of Apologies

There are likely to be cultural differences between your native and target language that you may wish to adjust to as you perform speech acts. As a starter, try to notice how many times apology expressions are given in each situation in these exercises. Compare that with apologizing in English. If there is an excuse, notice the ways in which it is presented.

Go to Exercise 1

Go to Exercise 2

Exercise 3-4: Functions of Apology Expressions

Just because you hear an apology expression doesn’t mean it is serving as an apology! Listen for various functions of apology expressions.

Go to Exercise 3

Go to Exercise 4


Coffee Break

Let's listen to an informal apology dialogue between friends in a school cafeteria. One accidentally knocks over her close friend's coffee and spills some on her shirt. The coffee burned her arm. 

Click Below to Listen


Exercise 5-6: Apology Expressions and Intensifiers

There are various expressions you can use to apologize. It is useful to know how to intensify your apology, as you might say “very” or “really” in English.

Go to Exercise 5

Go to Exercise 6

Exercise 7: More Apology strategies

In this exercise, you will review the apology strategies introduced in the previous exercises and learn still more that are commonly used.

Go to Exercise 7

Exercise 8: Tone of Apologies

Your tone of voice could make your apology sound sincere or non-apologetic. Listen to practice to use the right tone!

Go to Exercise 8

Exercise 9-10: Simulation Exercises on Offering Apologies

Now let’s just practice all that we have learned about apologies. You will be asked to self-evaluate your apologies you have offered in these exercises.

Go to Exercise 9

Go to Exercise 10

Tea Break

Listen to another apology interaction. As you listen, try to identify who is talking and the relationship between them. What is the explanation for the apology and how serious do you think is the infraction?

Click Below to Listen to Dialogue

See Vocabulary & Expressions in Dialogue

Just for Fun!

Listen to this comic apology situation. Do you get the humor?  

Click Below to Listen

See Vocabulary & Expressions

Revisiting Useful Links

Ex1 Comments

Ex2 Comments

Ex4 Summary Chart

Ex6 Summary Chart

Ex7-6 Comments

Ex7 Strategies Summary

Ex9 Comments

Ex10 Comments



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