18 Short Quotes About Saying Sorry—And Meaning It


Not only is offering an apology incredibly humbling, but it’s also very cathartic. This is true whether you're saying sorry for your loss or apologizing after an argument. And even when you think you’re right, there’s definitely some small probability you own some fault in the matter.

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So, if you want to move in the right direction with someone important, then dig deep and offer an apology. After all, pride matters little when you lose trust or faith from loved ones. Plus, there’s far more strength in putting an end to problems versus the tenacity to continue them.

So, if you’ve been stuck on finding the right words, here are some quotes for you. You may be surprised how easy problems seem to solve themselves once you get over the hurdle of the apology. 

‘I’m Sorry’ Quotes to Send to a Partner or Spouse

Nothing surpasses the bond that you have with your partner or spouse. Here are a few ways that you can help alleviate the tension when life gets hectic and the wrong words come out. 

1. “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” —Bryant H. McGill

Saying that relationships take work, time, and love is not a cliché. So, if you’ve got a hurdle to overcome that requires an apology, McGill’s words might help smooth the path ahead.

2. “I loved and adored you, but I drained you like a thirsty man at a spring. I loved what you could give me—your admiration, your acceptance, your love, your forgiveness. I forgot to love you for yourself.” —Jennifer Ashley

Quotes rarely drip with such raw honesty. But when you're in Ashley’s position or a similar one, your partner probably deserves nothing less, and maybe a lot more.

3. “Apologizing does not always mean you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.” —Mark Matthews

If you’re ready to call quits to your disagreement, then here’s a pragmatic quote to help break the ice over a text or email so that when you next meet, you can talk without all the anger.

4. “I felt ashamed for what I had done. I don't have any excuses. I did what I did. I take full responsibility for myself and my actions. I wouldn't pawn this off on anybody. I'm sorry it happened. And I hurt [you].” —Louie Anderson 

If you are searching for an apology that runs the gambit of bad behavior and wrongdoing, Louie Anderson covers many of the bases. 

5. “Never forget the nine most important words of any family: I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me.” —H. Jackson Brown Jr.

You can tailor this apology to fit in a card, text, or say it in-person. While it may not suit the most serious offenses, it will likely apply to some minor infractions.

6. “How do I say the words, 'I'm sorry' when I know that words are not enough? And how can I ask you to forgive me when I know I can't forgive myself?” —Unknown Author

For those major offenses or transgressions, an unknown author has created an apology that says you’re sorry, and that you, too, find the actions unforgivable. 

ยป MORE: Instead of ashes, create a beautiful stone. Parting Stone helps you keep your loved ones close.


‘I’m Sorry’ Quotes to Send to Another Family Member

Holding grudges with family members is the last thing we need. After all, family sticks by each other no matter what. So, if there’s a pickle that’s got people silent, take a moment to clear the air with some quotes like the following.

7. “I regret that [thing I did]. I made a mistake and I left the impression that the truth does not matter. And I am deeply sorry about that because that is not what I believe. To everyone who has challenged me on this issue of truth, you are absolutely right.” —Oprah Winfrey

Politics, religion, and climate change seem to get people riled up a lot lately, but that doesn’t have to make you enemies with your siblings when you don’t agree with one another. 

8. “Friends are God's apology for relations.” —Hugh Kingsmill

With simple apologies, it’s not necessary to offer detailed reasonings at every crossroad. Plus, unavoidable things happen, and you’re definitely stuck with your family.

9. “Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.” —Tryon Edwards

Here’s a great way to let someone know you have done some internal processing about how you’ve been behaving towards the people you care about. And, if your friendship is strong, you’ll be able to get past some of the little issues very easily. 

10. “If I said, ‘I’m sorry’ even though I don't know why I'm saying it, will it reduce my time in the corner? —Author Unknown 

Some of the most famous family dramas in US history happened after the civil war, so if it’s not quite to that level, you may find that there’s really no sense in holding a grudge. Just say I’m sorry.

11. “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” —Kimberly Johnson

If you’re in good relations with both people in a marriage who are now divorcing, there’s really no good way to navigate the situation. So, when everything settles down, here’s a way to let them both know you’re sorry—but also saw no other option. 

‘I’m Sorry’ Quotes to Share with a Friend

When saying you’re sorry to your friend, be sincere, admit your fault, and give them plenty of time to respond. Afterward, you may want to find ways to make it up to them—or be prepared to walk away altogether.

12. “Chocolate says ‘I'm sorry’ so much better than words. —Rachel Vincent 

Send this note along with a really good box of chocolates. If it doesn’t work, then you may want to pick up the phone and have a direct conversation.

13. “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” —Paul Boese

After an email to address the situation, Boese’s quote would make for a solid summary. It sounds hopeful, but pragmatic, and would suit an older relationship over a newer one.

14. “True friends stab you in the front. —Oscar Wilde

No truer statement could be said! Still, if you’ve been in a mess before with this friend, and generally have some good humor about you, then Wilde’s quote may help reduce the pain of your infraction and get a good chuckle simultaneously.

15. “Let us forgive each other—only then will we live in peace.” —Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s apology seems so formal, almost like the one you would say to a colleague or coworker more than a friend. That is, unless, you are making amends in a social group wherein your relationship doesn’t need to be intimate, only cordial. 

16. “I overlooked your happiness in an attempt to make myself happy, only to realize that my happiness lies in yours. I am sorry, please forgive me.” —Author Unknown

Here’s a way to sound contrite and also express the value in your best friend’s happiness. When you let them know that you can see life from different angles, you’re showing and telling them how much you care.

17. “Remorse is impotence; it will sin again. Only repentance is strong; it can end everything.” —Honor de Balzac

If you can follow up your apology with some right actions, then use this as the starter, otherwise, you’ll be offering more apologies down the road.

18. “To err is human, to forgive divine...” —Alexander Pope

Offering an apology lobs the ball into someone else’s court. After one has been offered, all you can do is wait to hear if you’ll be forgiven or not.

Partners, Family, and Friends Need Second Chances

Hopefully one of the above examples for saying ‘I’m sorry’ helped you find a few ways to pull the bandage off quickly—and mean it. If the relationship is important to you, look for the right time and place so that afterward you can both begin to heal.

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