Please and thank you (and sorry), part II: when you need to apologize

How do you apologize in Persian? As in English, you might say “I’m sorry,” or you might go for the more formal apology, and these are two different concepts. As you may already suspect, given that you maybe know a little Persian by now, there’s more than one way to say these things–the way that’s been imported from Arabic  and the way that’s more “Persian.”

Hopefully most of your transgressions will be minor enough that a simple “I’m sorry” will suffice, in which case you’ll want to use an Arabic import, مُتاسِف (which is written as though it should be mutāssif, but is actually transliterated mutaʾassif and pronounced “mota-as-sef” because that’s how it’s pronounced in Arabic). Just tack on a first person “to be” short ending (“-am”) and you’ve got “I’m sorry”: مُتاسِفَم (mutaʾassifam). There is a Persian word that means “sorry” and actually shades into stronger concepts, like remorse or repentance, so hopefully you won’t need to use it: پَشیمان (pashīmān), which you would again use with a short “to be” ending, so پَشیمانَم (pashīmānam) is “I’m sorry.” Yet another word that can mean “sorry” is غَمگین (ghamgīn), but this really means “sad” and means “sorry” more in the sense of the emotion of sorrow than an expression you’d use to ask forgiveness. It’s an interesting word, though, because it combines an Arabic word (غم) that suggests extreme sadness or sorrow with a Persian ending (گین) that means “full of ___.”

Now, if you have to formally apologize, you also have a couple of options, but both require you to know the verb خواستَن (khwāstan), which means “to want” or “to wish” or “to ask” and uses that archaic/silent و we’ve seen every now and then, so the verb is actually pronounced “khaa-stan.” The present stem of the verb is خواه (khwāh, “khaah”). When we talk about future verb tense we’ll see that خواستَن is used to form that tense. I guess you could say that Persian treats the future tense as an intention, something you “want” to do, rather than something you “will” do, which could be kind of deep and meaningful if you’re into that sort of thing. Persian imports the Arabic word عذر (ʿaẕr), which means “excuse” or “pardon,” and combines it with the verbal noun form of خواستَن, which takes the present stem and adds the letter ی, so the whole thing is عذر خواهی (ʿaẕr khwāhī). Altogether this means “a request/desire for pardon,” so i.e. “apology,” and to make it a verb (“to beg pardon,” “to apologize”) you add the typical helper verb کردن and the whole thing becomes عذر خواهی کَردَن (ʿaẕr khwāhī kardan). “I apologize” would be عذر خواهی می کُنَم (ʿaẕr khwāhī mī kunam). However, and this should come as no great surprise by now, Persian also has its own word for “apology” or “pardon,” پوزِش (pūzish), which gets made into a verb (“to beg pardon,” “to wish to apology,” “to apologize”) by adding خواستَن in its verb form, the whole thing being پوزِش خواستَن (pūzish khwāstan). “I apologize” using this vocabulary would be پوزِش می خواهَم (pūzish khwāham). The exclamation “Sorry!” can be rendered as با عَرضِ پوزِش (bā ʿarż-i pūzish), which is somewhat idiomatic since با means “with” and عرض means “breadth,” so the literal translation is “with a breadth of apology.”


2 thoughts on “Please and thank you (and sorry), part II: when you need to apologize

  1. Pingback: Please and thank you (and sorry), part III: excuse me, pardon me | Persian Word a Day
  2. Pingback: Please and thank you (and sorry), part IV: forgive me | Persian Word a Day

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