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Feb 2, 2022

Writing

100 examples of how to apologize professionally in an email

Having a hard time figuring out how to apologize? Apology emails can be challenging to write, so that's why we break down how to apologize professionally in an email and make sincere apologies.

Blog writer

Lawrie Jones

Writer

Blog writer

Samuli Pehkonen

Marketing

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Table of contents

Blog image

Are you wondering how to apologize in an email?

When apologizing, finding the right things to say is sometimes more easily said than done. Owning up to a mistake, learning how to apologize, and getting over a mistake are essential skills in your career development, because everyone makes mistakes at work. 

This blog post provides you with 100 professional apology examples that help you grasp how to apologize professionally in an email. We provide you with apology statements and sample sentences that make your apology messages feel sincere.

By the time you've finished reading, you'll know exactly what to say in an apology next time you need to say sorry and make amends.

If you are stuck, try Flowrite's apology templates to make your apology emails come off as more than a copy and pasted sorry note:

How to apologize

Everyone makes mistakes at work; dealing with them defines you personally and professionally. So how do you apologize professionally?

If you've made a mistake, you're likely feeling stressed. You may need help crafting an apology to your boss, sending an email apology email to a client, or wondering how to apologize to a customer. 

Whatever the reason you're searching for an apology email, we can help you learn how to apologize sincerely.

When considering how to apologize for a mistake professionally, you should be sincere, not cynical, say researchers. That means saying sorry and leaving the ifs and buts for later. 

An effective apology involves acknowledging what you've done wrong and admitting it. OK, so it sounds simple, but it isn't. But, to save face, many of us seek to qualify an apology which can affect how it's received. How does this work? 

"I'm sorry I made a mistake, I was under pressure at the time."

Put simply, say "I apologize," not "I apologize, but…"

Other important apology etiquette includes using the active voice and the first person. If you've made a mistake and are sorry, then say "I am sorry" rather than "We are sorry". 

When to apologize at work

We all make mistakes at work and are constantly learning and improving. In most cases, you'll know you've done wrong and need to apologize. We've split apology types into three categories.

Professional mistakes 

Here are some of the reasons you may need to send an email apology for a professional mistake:

  • Apology email for missing deadline
  • Apology for missing a meeting
  • Apology for sending documents late
  • Apology email for forgetting something
  • Apology for not responding to an email
  • Apology email for sending the wrong attachment
  • Apology for not seeing an email
  • Apology for a typo in an email 
  • Apology for forgetting to do something
  • Apology for miscommunication

Personal slip-ups

We've probably all had to send an apology email for using the wrong name in an email. It's an example of a standard personal slip-up that's easily managed. Here are some others…

  • Apology for using the wrong name in an email
  • Apology email for sending email to the wrong person 
  • Apology for using the wrong job title
  • Apology for using the wrong company name
  • Apology for addressing someone using the wrong gender

Technical Problems

 You may find yourself having to apologize for a technical issue with some software, a system, or a solution. Here are a few examples of technical problems that may require an apology.

  • Apology for sending too many emails
  • Apology for server outages
  • Apology for service failure
  • Apology email for technical issues
  • Apology for system downtime

How to say sorry when…

Not everything in business is black and white. Sometimes, there are gray areas. In this section, we look at some of the situations where you may need to say sorry in slightly different ways, including:

  • Other ways to apologize without saying sorry   
  • How to apologize when you are not wrong       
  • How to apologize for saying something you didn't mean
  • How to apologize when you're both wrong

Let's dive into the details.

Other ways to apologize without saying sorry 

It may seem strange, but sometimes you need to know how to apologize without saying sorry, but it's a skill you need to know. This situation can occur when a customer, for example, hasn't understood how a product or service works, failed to update some software, or lost a login.

Here's an example of how to apologize without saying sorry.

"I'm sorry to hear that you have been unable to access our online platform. We recently advised you that your password had changed. Please use the new password we have sent to you. If you still have difficulties signing in, please feel free to contact me again."

How to apologize when you are not wrong 

The first rule of business is that the customer is always right (even when they're wrong). It can seem strange to apologize when you are right, but sometimes it's necessary to protect your organization's public perception. Here's an example of how to apologize when you're not wrong.

"I apologize to you for my last email. I understand that my message upset you, and this wasn't my intention. I now appreciate the error that I made. I can assure you that I will never make the same mistake again."

"I apologize for the problems you have experienced returning your product. However, our terms and conditions are clear that we will not pay return postage for your items. I can assure you that we will process your refund as soon as we receive the item back."

How to apologize for saying something you didn't mean

Sometimes we may say or write things that may be misunderstood by someone else. It's important to respect how the other person feels and express regret. It's also critical to ensure the error doesn't happen again. Here's how that can work.

"I apologize to you for my last email. I understand that my message upset you, and this wasn't my intention. I now appreciate the error that I made. I can assure you that I will never make the same mistake again."

How to apologize when you're both wrong

In some situations, both sides are wrong, and both need to apologize. Here's how to apologize when you're both wrong (and how to make things right).

"I apologize for the misunderstanding and miscommunication that led us to experience the issues that we did. On reflection, there are errors on both sides, but what is important is finding a solution that benefits us both. I look forward to working with you to find a suitable solution."

100 apology examples

There are an almost infinite number of ways you can say sorry, but we've included 100 of our favorites below. These are split into categories to help you select the most suitable apology for each situation.

How to write a personal apology

Here are some examples of writing a personal apology to someone you know.  

  • I sincerely apologize
  • I highly apologize
  • I greatly apologize
  • I deeply apologize
  • I would like to sincerely apologize for...
  • I would like to express my sincere apology for...
  • I would like to offer a sincere apology for...
  • I apologize for not...
  • I apologize for the confusion
  • I apologize for what happened
  • I apologize for the multiple emails
  • I apologize for the mistake I made
  • I apologize on behalf of the company
  • I apologize for any grammatical errors
  • I am sorry for my mistake
  • I am sorry for my actions
  • I am sorry for messing up
  • I am sorry for any misunderstanding I may have caused
  • I am sorry for disappointing you
  • I am sorry and apologize for...
  • I am sorry to bother you again
  • I am sorry and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused
  • I am so sorry about this
  • I am asking for an apology
  • I have to apologize
  • Please accept my apologies for the mistake
  • Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused
  • please accept my sincere apologies for the delay
  • Please accept my apologies for the late response
  • Please accept my apologies for the short notice
  • My apologies, I forgot to attach...
  • My apologies for the mistake
  • My apologies for the delay in sending the document
  • My apologies for the confusion
  • My apologies for overlooking your email
  • My apologies for my absence...
  • My apologies for the last-minute request...
  • Many apologies for...
  • Utmost apologies for...
  • A big apology for...
  • A formal apology for...
  • A heartfelt apology for...
  • A personal apology for...
  • Sorry for the typo
  • Sorry for the issue
  • Sorry for the mix-up
  • Sorry for my actions
  • Sorry for the mishap 
  • Sorry for the problem
  • Sorry for my behaviour
  • Sorry for the oversight
  • Sorry for bothering you
  • Sorry for disrespecting you
  • Sorry for my incompetence
  • Sorry for wasting your time
  • Sorry for the inconvenience
  • Sorry for the misunderstanding
  • Sorry for the last minute notice
  • Sorry for not getting back to you sooner
  • Sorry for the delay in sending the report
  • Sorry to confuse you
  • Sorry to inform you late
  • Sorry I was mistaken
  • Sorry it was a mistake
  • Sorry I said the wrong thing
  • Sorry I missed your visit
  • Sorry I have overlooked your email
  • Sorry I couldn't attend the meeting

Business apology examples

These apology examples are suitable for writing as a representative of a business, company, organization, or service provider.

  • We sincerely apologize
  • We highly apologize
  • We greatly apologize for
  • We deeply apologize
  • We would like to apologize for...
  • We apologize for the mistake and the inconvenience
  • We apologize for any misunderstanding
  • Our apologies for the oversight
  • Our apologies for the mistake
  • Our sincere apologies for...
  • Please accept our sincere apology for...
  • Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused

How to say sorry at the end of an email

We've suggested apologizing up front, but sometimes you'll want to drop one in at the end. So here's to say sorry at the end of an email.

  • ...My greatest apologies.
  • ...My most sincere apologies.
  • ... I am deeply sorry.
  • ...I am sincerely sorry.
  • ...I am sorry for my mistakes.
  • ...I am so sorry for the inconvenience.
  • ...Sorry for the trouble.
  • ...Sorry for the hurdle.
  • ...Sorry for pushing.
  • ...Sorry for informing you late.
  • ...Sorry again.
  • ...Sorry if there are any mistakes in...
  • ...Apologies again for the inconvenience.
  • ...with regret,
  • ...with my apologies,
  • ...We would like to apologize in advance for the inconvenience.
  • ...We are extremely sorry for the trouble caused.
  • ...We are really sorry for the inconvenience.
  • ...Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.
  • ...We are sorry and apologize for the mistake.
  • ...We regret the inconvenience caused.
  • ...Our deep and sincere apologies.
  • ...Once again, sorry for the inconvenience caused.

Apology email format

As you can see, there are hundreds of ways to say I'm sorry, but thankfully there's a single accepted format.

Researchers studying effective apology emails have discovered that there is a standard structure, including:

  • Greeting
  • Gratitude
  • Apology
  • Explanation
  • Conclusion
  • Sign-off/Signature

We can translate the findings of researchers into a professional email format. As we've outlined in previous blogs, every professional apology letter has five parts:

  • Subject line
  • Email greeting
  • Email opening line and body 
  • Email ending 
  • Email signature 

Here's a visual representation of how the apology email format works in practice.

Subject line: (Subject line)
Dear (Recipient's first name) (Recipient's last name),

(Email opening line)

(Email body)

(Email closing sentence)

(Email Sign-off)

(Your first name) (Your last name)

(Email Signature)

Let's look at each of these parts in greater detail.

Apology email subject line

Every subject line is short and to the point, so we recommend sticking an apology up front, not hiding it in the body of your message. 

Some examples of acceptable apology email subject lines include:

  • Please accept my apologies
  • Confused about my last message?
  • We made a mistake
  • An apology from <business name>
  • An apology from <your name>
  • I am sincerely sorry

These are samples that you can apply to your apology messages. We'd suggest you look for ways to personalize them where possible, including details that are relevant to your clients, customers, managers, or teams.

Apology greetings  

An apology is an official email, so follow the accepted rules and formal greetings when deciding how to start an apology email. The regulations on starting an apology letter are pretty simple; use 'Dear <first name, surname> if you know the person.

If you're apologizing for something, you'll likely know their full name. If you don't, you can use a suitable collective term, such as "Dear Customer" or "Dear Team".

Learn more about professional email greetings in our article.                      

Three parts of an apology

A heartfelt apology has three parts, says Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., in Psychology Today. Every great apology includes:

  1. Acknowledgment – Admit that you have done wrong and say so clearly.
  2. Empathy – It is critical to understand how your actions and your mistakes have made the other person feel––and what this may mean to them.
  3. Restitution – You've said sorry and acknowledged the emotional impact is great; now say what you're going to do to make things better. Restitution is about restoring respect and building a better, stronger relationship in the future.

We use this structure in our samples, so read on to see how it can work in practice.

How to acknowledge a mistake in an email

Using the three-part model of an apology developed by Bernstein, we can tackle the most challenging part: how to acknowledge a mistake in an email.

Here are some examples of how you can acknowledge your mistakes, be clear that you understand the issue, and accept the mistake is yours:                       

  • It is my mistake that...
  • I made a mistake
  • I made an error
  • I made a terrible mistake
  • I've made a huge mistake
  • I admit that I made a mistake when...
  • I accidentally left your name off my last email
  • A correction to my previous email...
  • This won't happen again       

How to close an apology email

The principles of how to close an apology email are about setting the scene for a future relationship that's better and stronger. It obviously depends on the mistake, the relationship, and what needs to be repaired. Still, some positive ways you can close an apology email include:

  • I look forward to working with you in the future
  • I trust we can put this situation behind us
  • We will never make the same mistake again and hope you will continue to work with us
  • We are excited to continue our partnership
  • I hope this apology closes the matter and enables us to move forward positively

In case you want to learn more email closing phrases check out our article on the topic.

Apology email samples

As we've established, crafting professional apology emails isn't simple, but following the structure outlined above and our advice will have you create apology emails with impact. 

Here are three email apology samples that illustrate how to say sorry at work in several everyday situations you may experience.

Apology email to client

Crafting an apology message to a client means following the format above, structuring a response that acknowledges the issues and provides a positive way forward. In this example of how to apologize to the client for a mistake, we provide a standard apology letter you can shape to your circumstances.

Subject line: Sincerest apologies
Dear Simon Smith,

I would like to sincerely apologize for the poor quality service you received from us at (company name). We recognize that we failed to live up to your expectations and understand how frustrated and upset you were. 

All of us at (company name) would like to sincerely apologize for the service you received. In light of your experience, we are making changes to ensure this never happens again.

We hope you will continue to work with us and look forward to hearing from you in due course. 

Yours Sincerely,

John Alison

Apology email to customer

Depending on your business, service, or sector, this customer service apology template can help you regain trust and restore respect. 

Some of the reasons you may need to send an apology email to a customer:

  • Apology email to customer for delay in delivery
  • Apology to a customer for a mistake
  • Apology to a customer for long wait time
  • Apology to a customer for delay in response
  • Apology to a customer for bad service
  • Apology email to customer for poor service
  • Apology email to customer for a damaged product

Here's an example of an apology email to a customer you could use in various different situations.

Subject line: Please accept our apologies
Dear Simon Smith,

I want to apologize for our mistakes when dealing with your previous order. Unfortunately, your order was delayed due to circumstances outside of our control. We understand the impact that this delay has had n your business and want to reassure you that it will not happen again. 

You are a valued customer, and we hope you continue to trust us with your business. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you want to discuss this further.

Yours Sincerely,

John Alison

Apology email to boss

There are many situations when an apology email or apology to a boss is required. Still, they can all be managed with our template on how to say sorry to a boss for your mistake. We've stuck to the structure outlined above in this apology message to a boss, delivering a straightforward apology with a focus on the future.

Subject line: I am sincerely sorry
Dear Simon Smith,

I would like to apologize for the mistakes that I have made recently. However, I take pride in my work and realize this reflects poorly on myself and the organization.

I want to reassure you that I am committed to improving and will ensure that I never make these mistakes again. I personally want to thank you for your support and will repay this in the future. 

Finally, thanks for retaining confidence in me, it is very much appreciated.

Best regards,

John Alison

Apology templates by Flowrite

Flowrite is an AI writing tool that turns your instructions into ready-to-send emails and messages in seconds.

It takes care of the email structure, capitalization, grammar, spelling, punctuation – you name it. Essentially you can focus on your thoughts and ideas, and Flowrite will give them wings. We dare to claim that it's the fastest way to start writing better emails.

Our AI template collection features dozens of email templates that can help you with all the aspects apology emails.

To grasp how easy and fast it's to write apology message with Flowrite, just check out the example of resolving a customer complaint below.

Conclusion

While owning up to a mistake can be challenging, it shows a maturity that demands respect.

We all make mistakes, so we should also know how to apologize both at work and in our personal lives. While "I'm sorry" is the most often used apology statement, it's usually not enough that you should consider what to say in an apology given the context.

This blog post about apology emails and apology messages has introduced to you more than 100 sample sentences that can help you figure out things to say when apologizing, so make sure to make good use of them.

In addition, Flowrite's apology template can help you with apology statements in emails whenever you doubt how to make things right.

If you found this piece helpful, we suggest that you bookmark it for the next time you need to get over a mistake and apologize professionally in an email.

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