How to Say Sorry in Thai - Learn Thai From A White Guy - Learn Thai Online

How to Say Sorry in Thai

When saying sorry in Thai, the words you should use will depend on the person you are speaking with and your relationship, age and status relative to them.  Until you’ve learned to navigate that, just stick to this expression:

ขอโทษ ครับ/ค่ะ (khaw thot + khrap/kha)

  • ขอ (khaw) – is used in Thai as please in the sense of asking for something from someone
  • โทษ (thoht) – means to punish

Even though Thai people don’t think of it this way, it’s a fun mnemonic to think of saying sorry as “Please punish me.”

Saying Sorry in Thai – Polite

When speaking to people with higher status

Higher status means bosses, elders, people in respected positions.  It will also include people like your partner’s or friend’s parents.

When apologizing in Thai to people of higher status, you should say the standard phrase introduced above, but in many cases, it’s also a good idea to include a wai.  If you really messed up, this is a good way to defuse a tense situation.

ไหว้ [wai] – the wai is when you put your hands together in prayer-like position and it may or may not include a slight bow. The position of the hands in relation to the face/head as well as the deepness of the bow convey differing levels of respect.

What to say:

Saying Sorry in Informal Thai

to friends and partners

ขอโทษ

If you’re fairly close to someone (and this can happen fast), you don’t need to use the polite gender particles ครับ/ค่ะ .  The need for politeness drops off considerably at this level of intimacy.  If you aren’t sure, use it for the first few sentences and then you can tone it down or phase it out over a longer conversation.

When you need to apologize for small stuff:

If you did something really bad or offensive and/or feel really awful about it, you want to express your apology a bit stronger.

How to say Sorry in Formal Thai

This expression is very formal and not normally used in conversation, but you’ll hear it in public announcements, when you call someone on the phone and it doesn’t connect, on the BTS or other public transportation,  and you’ll find it written in signs.

Saying Excuse Me in Thai

Luckily, we can use the same expression,ขอโทษ, for both “sorry” and “excuse me” in Thai.

Examples:

Saying Sorry in Thai on Social Media / Chat / Texting

There tends to be a big drop in formality/politeness in Thai when chatting online.  However, when talking on message boards seen by a lot of people, many people will still be fairly polite and often use the polite gender particles.  When chatting with your friends on Facebook or Line, it’s not usually necessary.

Saying Why you are Sorry in Thai

Often times, just saying sorry isn’t enough.  You may want to specify what you are apologizing for.  Here are some examples of different situations.

The pattern is simple enough:

ขอโทษ + ที่​​​ ​+ whatever I did wrong

sorry + for + whatever I did wrong / or whatever happened

*You can switch out ขอโทษที่ … for โทษนะ ที่ … to get a more intimate/informal version of this pattern to use with friends.

How to Say “I didn’t mean to.” in Thai

ไม่ได้ตั้งใจ – I didn’t mean to. / I didn’t intend to.

 

How to Say Sorry in Thai for Things you Didn’t Cause

When you feel bad about something that happened to someone else, such as a death in the family, you’ll use a different phrase.