14 Different Ways To Say 'Excuse Me' In French

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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14 Different Ways To Say 'Excuse Me' In French

There are quite a few options for saying ‘excuse me’ in French.

Your French course or phrasebook might have listed one or two, but there are more alternatives you should learn.

This guide covers these alternatives for saying “excuse me” in French, which you may find useful.

Keep reading for my list of useful phrase variations.

How to say “excuse me” in French

The most common way to say “excuse me” in French is excusez-moi. This phrase literally translates to English as “excuse me”.

If you’re eager to learn alternative ways to say “excuse me” in French, you’ll discover them in the list below.

I’ve included formal and informal phrases and explanations of when you can use them.

1. Excusez-moi

As mentioned, excusez-moi means “excuse me” in French.

It’s a formal way to say excuse me or apologise and a common way to excuse yourself or get someone’s attention.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Excusez-moi, désolé d’être insensible.

Excuse me, sorry for being insensitive.

2. Pardonnez-moi

If you want an alternative option to say excuse me in French, you can use pardonnez-moi.

Pardonnez-moi means “excuse me”.

As you can see, it’s another formal apology phrase that you can use in the sense of asking to be excused for something since its verb, pardonnez is conjugated in the vous form.

Excuse yourself from a business meeting, or say sorry for a small thing you’ve done wrong by using pardonnez-moi.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Pardonnez-moi, ce train va-t-il à Montpellier ?

Pardon me, does this train go to Montpellier?

3. Excusez-moi de vous déranger

This French phrase is slightly longer than a few others on this list.

Excusez-moi de vous déranger is another formal way to say “excuse me”.

We can break this phrase down into smaller parts to fully understand it. Its first phrase excusez-moi means “excuse me”, as you know.

Vous is formal French for “you”, and déranger means to disturb. Altogether, this phrase means “excuse me for disturbing you”.

In classic French literature, you may see this where protagonists address people other characters don’t know.

You will also hear this in discussions between neighbours who don’t know each other very well.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais nous allons acheter plus de nourriture pour la cuisine.

Sorry to disturb you, but we are going to buy more food for the kitchen.

4. Excuse-moi de te déranger

Use this informal equivalent to excusez-moi de vous déranger if you need to say “excuse me” to a friend or family member.

You’ll notice that this French phrase is informal because the verb excuser has been conjugated in the informal, imperative tu form (excuse).

It’s also informal because it uses the second person pronoun te, so be aware of the difference between excusez-moi de vous déranger for formal situations or excuse-moi de te déranger for informal situations.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Excuse-moi de te déranger, mais nous allons au cinéma. Viens avec nous si tu as fini d’étudier.

Sorry to disturb you, but we're going to the cinema. Come with us if you've finished studying.

5. Désolé(e)

If you need a way to say “excuse me” apologetically, you can just say désolé.

In my article on French phrases for saying sorry, you’ll notice that désolé means “sorry”, so you might want to explain what you’re sorry for or why you have said “excuse me” to someone.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Excusez-moi, désolé de vous avoir poussé. Je n’ai pas pu garder mon équilibre.

Excuse me, sorry for pushing you. I couldn't keep my balance.

6. Mes sincères excuses

Mes sincères excuses is another way to make an apology in French.

It is included on this list because, in some contexts, using mes sincères excuses is like excusing yourself and asking for forgiveness for any wrongdoing.

This phrase is a more profound apology than désolé, so use it to say “excuse me” in the sense of “excuse my ignorance” when expressing condolences.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mes sincères excuses, je n’avais pas réalisé que votre mère avait un cancer.

My sincere apologies, I didn't realise your mother had cáncer.

7. Veuillez noter que

If you need to say “excuse me” to someone in French, in the sense that you’re drawing someone’s attention to something, you can use veuillez noter que.

Veuillez noter que means “please note that…” It’s similar to saying, “be aware that…”

For example, if you want to tell a customer that their subscription will be cancelled, you could start by saying veuillez noter que… to let them know.

Note that veuillez noter que is a formal way to draw someone’s attention to something.

It’s like saying, “I have to draw your attention to the fact that…”, so it’s just like saying “excuse me” in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Veuillez noter que vous devez payer pour vous garer ici.

Please take note that you must pay to park here.

8. Pardon

You may be able to tell that this French word is a cognate of the English word “pardon”, although it’s pronounced differently and used in a wider range of contexts.

While we use “pardon” in English to ask someone to repeat themselves, and can also use it in French for the same reason, pardon in French means “excuse me” and can also mean “sorry” in other contexts.

Use pardon when you’re trying to exit a crowded location and must say “excuse me” in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Pardon, je peux passer par ici ?

Excuse me, can I go through here?

9. Excusez-moi, pourriez-vous répéter la question

You can use this phrase if you’re in a French class and need to get the teacher’s attention.

Excusez-moi, pourriez-vous répetér la question means “excuse me, can you repeat the question?”

As you can see from the verb conjugations and the use of the pronoun vous, this is a longer sentence that contains formal language.

The fact that it’s formal means you can also use this phrase in work settings or when a colleague asks you a question, and you don’t hear them correctly.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Excusez-moi, je ne vous ai pas entendu. Pourriez-vous répéter la question?

Excuse me, I didn't hear you. Could you repeat the question?

10. Je te demande pardon

Je te demande pardon is a French phrase that means “I apologise”, and you can use it to excuse yourself for something you’ve done wrong.

To use it in contexts where you’ve interrupted someone or disrupted their day, you might start by saying excuse-moi de te déranger and then saying je te demande pardon.

Altogether, this means “sorry to disturb you, excuse me”.

Remember, je te demande pardon is an informal apology since it uses the pronoun te.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Je vous demande pardon. On va arranger ça, ne t’inquiète pas.

I beg your pardon, we'll fix it, don't worry.

11. Je vous demande pardon

Here’s the formal equivalent to je te demande pardon.

Je vous demande pardon is a formal French apology phrase that means “I beg your pardon”, but you can use it in the sense of “excuse my ignorance” or “excuse my error”.

In other words, it’s another phrase you can use to excuse yourself if you’ve made a mistake.

Use this phrase if you’re apologising at work for a significant error.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Je vous demande pardon, ça n’arrivera plus.

I beg your pardon; it won't happen again.

12. Excusez-moi de vous importuner

Excusez-moi de vous importuner means “Excuse me for bothering you”.

Use this phrase with strangers or people you’ve never met before.

For example, if you need to ask someone for help or directions and they’re in a rush and can’t help, you could say excusez-moi de vous importuner.

Again, you can tell that this is a formal phrase since it uses the vous conjugation of the verb excuser and the formal pronoun vous.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Désolé de vous déranger, mais pouvez-vous m’aider ? Ma voiture ne fonctionne pas.

Sorry, but could you assist me? My car isn't working.

13. Excuse-moi de t’embêter

Excuse-moi de t’embêter means “sorry to bother you” in English.

It’s a way to say sorry and “excuse me” when you’ve annoyed a friend or family member.

Note that this phrase is an informal sentence since it features the pronoun te.

Don’t use this version when speaking with senior colleagues or strangers.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Excuse-moi de t’embêter, je te laisse en paix.

Sorry to have bothered you. I'll leave you in peace.

14. Excusez-moi pour le retard

You may want to excuse yourself and apologise for the delay in something, such as when you’re delivering something to a neighbour.

In this case, you can use excusez-moi por le retard.

This phrase is a formal way to say “excuse me”, so you don’t need to use this one with friends and family.

You can use it in office settings if you’ve not met a deadline and need to apologise to a client.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

J’ai les billets que vous avez demandés. Excusez-moi por le retard.

I have the tickets you requested. Sorry for the delay.

Is excusez-moi formal or informal?

One thing to keep in mind about the French phrase excusez-moi is that it’s a formal way to say “excuse me” in French.

You should use excuse-moi if you want to say “excuse me” to someone you’ve never met or try to get someone’s attention (like the waiter in a French restaurant).

You can tell excusez-moi is formal because the verb it contains, excuser, is conjugated in the vous form.

What formal and informal grammar should you consider when saying excuse me in French?

Two of the important grammatical differences between formal and informal phrases that mean “excuse me” in French are:

  • Tu versus vous: if you’re addressing a friend, family member, or someone younger than you, stick with tu. If you’re addressing a colleague, unfamiliar neighbour, or stranger, use vous.
  • The conjugation of the verb excuser: if you’re addressing a friend, family member, or someone younger than you, use excuse. If you’re addressing a colleague, unfamiliar neighbour, stranger, or waiter, use excusez.

Learn to say excuse me in French

There you have it. That’s how to say excuse me in French.

You can vary your sentences and start to build your phrase list.

You have so many alternatives, so don’t just rely on excusez-moi next time you need to say it.


What phrases did I miss?

Share them in the comments!

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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).
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