“Excuse me” in French is: Excusez-moi (pronounced ɛkskyze mwa). This is the most common ways of saying excuse me and it is used in formal situations and when speaking to a stranger. This post will explore seven common ways of saying excuse me and explain when to use each variant.
How to say excuse me in French
“Excusez-moi” is the single most common way of saying “excuse me” in French. Use this phrase in all situations where you’d normally say excuse me in English. Note, however, that this is the vous-form of the phrase, used for both speaking to more than one person and to a stranger.
The next most common way of saying “excuse me” is “excuse-moi”. This form is used address a single person who you already know or a younger person. Using this form with an adult who you don’t know would be viewed as impolite in French culture.
Here are some sample sentences uses both excusez-moi and excuse-moi.
- Excusez-moi, où est la gare, s’il vous plaît? Excuse me, where is the train station please?
- Excuse-moi, je t’ai coupé la parole. Sorry, I interrupted you.
This explains the absence of an -s in the informal tu form. Hence, when “tu m’excuses” (you excuse me) is written in the imperative, (excuse-moi), the -s is omitted.
3. Excusez-moi de + infinitive
To express “excuse me for + verb”, use the construction: “excusez-moi de + infinitive”. Both the formal “excusez-moi” and informal “excuse-moi” can be used for these sentences. For example:
- Excusez-moi de vous déranger. Excuse me for bothering you.
4. Excusez-moi pour + noun
When apologizing “for” a specific action, you may use the structure, “excusez-moi pour + noun”. For example:
- Excusez-moi pour le retard. Sorry for being late.
The next most common way to say “excuse me” is: “pardon” (pronounced paʀdɔ̃).
This word is very useful for expressing that you didn’t understand what’s just been said. The -on is a nasal sound [ɔ̃] and the final -n must not be pronounced. For example:
- Pardon, je n’ai pas compris. Répétez, s’il vous plaît. Excuse me, I didn’t understand. Repeat please.
In addition to the interjection, “pardon”, you can also use the variant: “pardonnez-moi”, which is a bit more formal. You can also also use “pardonne-moi” when speaking to somebody you already know or a child.
One more usage of “pardon” is to express the felling of begin annoyed or displeased. For example:
- Pardon! C’est la dernère fois que je vous dérange avec ce problème! Well, excuse me! That’s the last time I’ll bother you with this problem.
When asking for forgiveness, you may use the more formal:
- Je vous demande pardon. Please forgive me.
- Je te demande pardon. Please forgive me.
7. S’il vous plaît
“S’il vous plaît” and “s’il te plaît” both translate to “please“. However, you can use s’il vous plaît to mean “excuse me”.
- S’il vous plaît, où sont les toilettes? Excuse me, where are the bathrooms?
- S’il te plaît, pourrais-tu m’expliquer ce mot? Excuse me, could you explain this word to me?
Here’s another common usage of “s’il vous plaît” in the context of “excuse me”.
- S’il vous plaît mesdames et messieurs, on va commencer. Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going to to start.
Become an expert in French formalities!
In addition to this page, we have several other pages covering French greetings and formalities. This page covers how to say “sorry” in French. This pages cover various ways of saying please, thank you and you’re welcome.
- Hello in French
- French alphabet (with audio)
- French reading rules
- French greetings guide
- Goodbye in French
- Introduction to French verbs
- French vocabulary lists