7 Different Ways To Say You're Embarrassed In French

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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7 Different Ways To Say You're Embarrassed In French

Are you looking for the right phrase to say you’re embarrassed in French?

You have many different options for expressing embarrassment.

If you’ve reached the “feelings” unit in your French course and want to widen your vocabulary, this guide will offer some extra creative alternatives.

I’ll also give you several usage examples to help you understand how to use these phrases.

Let’s get started.

How do you say “I feel embarrassed” in French?

A literal translation of “I’m embarrassed” in French is je me sens embarrassé.

This literally means “I feel embarrassed”, and you’ll notice that the French adjective embarrassé is a cognate in English, so you won’t find it difficult to remember this first phrase.

You may also wish to say that someone else is “embarrassed” in French.

Note, when you’re speaking about a female who is feeling embarrassed, add an extra -e to the end of the word embarrassée.

For example, if your sister is embarrassed about her behaviour, you might say:

Listen to audio

Elle se sent embarrassée à cause de son comportement.

She feels embarrassed because of her behaviour.

How to express embarrassment in French

Now let’s look at a list of other phrases you can use to say “embarrassed” in French.

Have you ever used these phrases before?

1. J’ai honte

J’ai honte is a phrase that you can use to express more than embarrassment as it connotes shame and humiliation.

This phrase literally means “I am ashamed”.

If someone you know has embarrassed you greatly in front of your friends or colleagues, you can use this phrase to express embarrassment in French.

Here are two usage examples of j’ai honte.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

J’ai honte de mon frère. Il a insulté mes amis et je ne lui pardonnerai pas.

I am ashamed of my brother. He insulted my friends and I won't forgive him.
Listen to audio

Ma meilleure amie a volé mes boucles d’oreilles. J’ai honte d’elle et je ne lui parlerai plus.

My best friend stole my earrings. I am ashamed of her and I won't speak to her again.

2. Quel dommage !

Quel dommage ! combines the French words quel (or “what”) and dommage (or “pity”). Combined, this whole phrase means “what a pity”, “what a shame”, or “how shameful”.

When you feel embarrassed for someone else or want to express embarrassment due to an unfortunate event, use quel dommage ! to show your shame.

This phrase is also an interjection so, when you’re writing, use an exclamation mark and leave a space between it and the word dommage.

Look at these two usage examples of the interjection quel dommage !

Listen to audio

Il a perdu son alliance et a blâmé le chat. Quel dommage !

He lost his wedding ring and blamed it on the cat. What a pity!
Listen to audio

Sa présentation était bonne jusqu’à ce qu’elle laisse tomber ses papiers par terre. Quel dommage !

Her presentation was good until she dropped her papers on the floor. What a pity!

3. Désolé pour ça

If your wrongdoing causes you embarrassment, you might want to say sorry in French and express embarrassment at the same time.

The phrase you can use for this is désolé pour ça.

Désolé means “sorry”, and pour ça means “for that”.

You could follow up this phrase with quel dommage ! if the situation is particularly stressful or embarrassing. Combined, these two phrases mean “sorry for that, what a pity!”

Here are my usage examples to help you understand how to use désolé pour ça.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Je ne voulais pas laisser tomber votre ordinateur portable. Désolé pour ça, je t’en achèterai un autre.

I didn't mean to drop your laptop. Sorry about that, I'll buy you another one.
Listen to audio

J’ai dit désolé pour ça. Je ne savais pas que j’arriverais si tard.

I said sorry about that. I didn't realise I would arrive so late.

4. Désolé por le désagrément

In formal situations such as when you fail to deliver work to your clients on time, you can use désolé pour le désagrément.

This phrase is one way to express that you’re “embarrassed” in French.

Désolé pour le désagrément means “sorry for the inconvenience” in English. You can then follow it up by explaining what caused the inconvenience.

See the usage examples I’ve provided just below to find out how to use this phrase.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Malheureusement, je n’ai pas pu livrer votre produit à temps. Désolé pour le désagrément. J’espère offrir un meilleur service à l’avenir.

Unfortunately, I couldn't deliver your product on time. Sorry for the inconvenience. I hope to provide better service in the future.
Listen to audio

C’est avec regret que je dois vous dire que le projet a échoué. Nous n’avons pas pu le livrer à la fin du jalon. Désolé pour le désagrément.

It's with regret that I have to tell you the project failed. We couldn't deliver it by the end of the milestone. Sorry for the inconvenience.

5. Être gêné

Être gêné literally means “to be shy” in English, however, when you conjugate the verb être, you can create sentences that connote embarrassment. You can also use être gêné to say “be embarrassed” in French.

For example, if you wanted to say “she’s embarrassed” you use the il / elle form of the verb être:

Il est gêné.

Or if you wanted to say “they are embarrassed” you use the ils / elles form of the verb être and pluralise the adjective gêné by adding an -s:

Elles sont gênés

Although it can refer to “genes” in a biological context, the adjective gêné on its own means “uncomfortable” or “uneasy”.

When you’re using this phrase in writing, don’t forget the French accent marks in your sentences.

Here are two usage examples you can look at for more information on how to use être gêné.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Je devrais être très gêné. Je ne savais pas que c’était l’anniversaire de ma tante. Je ne lui ai pas offert de cadeau.

I should be very embarrassed. I had no idea it was my aunt's birthday. I didn't get her a gift.
Listen to audio

Nous sommes tous gênés. Tout notre travail était faux. Nous devons recommencer.

We are all embarrassed. All of our work was wrong. We have to start again.

6. Je m’en veux

The meaning of je m’en veux is “I feel guilty”, “I feel bad” or “I feel ashamed”.

You can also use je m’en veux if you want to say “I blame myself” in French.

You can conjugate this French phrase and make different people the subject of the sentence. For example, if you wanted to say “you feel guilty”, or “you blame yourself” use the French pronoun tu:

Tu t’en veux

Or if you wanted to say “we feel guilty”, or “we blame ourselves” use the pronoun nous:

Nous nous en voulons.

The usage examples below will clarify how to use je m’en veux in different contexts.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Je m’en veux pour l’accident de voiture. Le chat a couru sur la route et je ne l’ai pas vu.

I blame myself for the car crash. The cat ran into the road and I didn't see it.
Listen to audio

Elle s’en veut des mauvaises notes de l’élève. Même si elle a travaillé dur, ça n’a pas marché.

She blames herself for the student's bad grades. Even though she worked hard, it didn't work out.

7. Je me sens coupable

Use je me sens coupable when you want to express embarrassment in French or you feel guilty and ashamed.

Je me sens coupable means “I feel guilty” in English.

You can modify this sentence and make other people the subject of the sentence, just as with some of the other examples on this list.

For instance, if you wanted to say “she feels guilty”, change the pronoun and conjugate the reflexive verb using the elle:

Elle se sent coupable.

If you wanted to say “we feel guilty”, change the pronoun and conjugate the reflexive verb using the nous form:

Nous nous sentons coupable

I’ve included two usage examples below to clarify the usage of je me sens coupable.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Elle a échoué à son test d’espagnol. Je me sens coupable. Je m’en veux.

She failed her Spanish test. I feel guilty. I blame myself.
Listen to audio

Nous nous sentons coupables des mauvais résultats de ce projet de cloud computing. Nous nous blâmons.

We feel culpable for the poor results of this cloud computing project. We blame ourselves.

Express your shame or embarrassment in French more confidently

The more you speak and listen to French, the better you’ll become at expressing yourself.

Try using these phrases to say that you’re “embarrassed” in French when speaking with French native speakers.

With the usage examples you can get a good idea of similar sentences you can make to share your shame.


Which other phrases would you suggest to convey embarrassment in French?

Share your contribution in the comments area below.

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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