Write a Personal Apology - Letters

Example Letter #1

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I feel I must apologize to you personally for misquoting your comment on the bond issue. I know how frustrating it can be to work hard for a cause and then have it misrepresented to those who will benefit most from it. The misunderstanding came when we transcribed your comments from a damaged tape recording of your talk Thursday evening.

As soon as we realized we had made a mistake, we printed an explanation and clarification of your position and gave each student a copy to take home. We are also printing a retraction in the local newspaper. I apologize for the misunderstanding and wish you success with the bond issue.

Example Letter #2

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My comments about your withdrawal from the project were inexcusable. I realize that I do not know all the issues.

Sometimes I am too quick to comment before having all the facts. Had I known about your accident, I surely would have held my tongue.

I promise to be more considerate in the future.

Example Letter #3

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I apologize for my most inappropriate behavior at your dinner party. I realize you were counting on a relaxing evening, and my lack of restraint must have taxed you greatly. Please understand that this is not my normal mode of behavior. I hope you will accept these flowers as a token of my apology, and consider joining me for a relaxing dinner party at my home in the near future.

Example Letter #4

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Please accept my sincere apology for the disagreement we had yesterday afternoon. I am truly sorry if I offended you. When I feel passionately about an issue, I sometimes express my ideas and feelings too strongly, and I'm afraid that's what happened yesterday. Even though we have different opinions in this area, I want you to know that I respect your point of view and I enjoy discussing issues with you. I hope you will forgive me. I don't want our friendship to be affected negatively by this disagreement.

Example Letter #5

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I am so sorry I missed our appointment last Tuesday morning. It must have been very upsetting for you to make all the effort to get to my office on time, only to have me fail to arrive. Unfortunately, my daughter was involved in a car accident, and everything else simply slipped my mind.

Would you prefer to reschedule next time you are in Springfield, or simply speak on the phone? I will be visiting Centerville during the week of June 10, and we could arrange to meet then if you like. In any case, when we do meet, let me take you out to lunch. I look forward to hearing from you.

Example Letter #6

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This is very embarrassing for me to have to admit, but I simply cannot find the book you lent me. I have searched everywhere I can think of, but it seems to have disappeared. I'm very sorry, John, particularly as you warned me that it is out of print. I have contacted all the second-hand bookstores in town, and they have agreed to look out for it, and Doe Books also told me about a book search service located in Springfield. I am waiting to hear back from them.

I will keep on trying until I locate another copy in good condition for you, but in the meantime I ask you please to accept my sincere apologies.

Letter-Writing Tips

Write this brief letter as soon as possible after the incident. Focus on actions you are taking to rectify the situation, rather than on the damage you may have caused. A sincere, well-worded apology coupled with action goes a long way toward patching up a damaged relationship.

Step-by-Step Guide

1 Begin with a straightforward apology that refers to the offense.

Sentences
  • I apologize for failing to return your phone call.
  • I feel I owe you an apology for my insensitive comment last night.
  • I am sorry I missed our appointment on Tuesday.
  • I am very sorry I forgot your birthday. I always look forward to celebrating your birthday, so I was devastated when I realized I had forgotten it.
  • I am sorry for the way I acted at your party last night. I could tell that you had put a lot of work into making sure everyone was having a good time. Everyone was--until my unfortunate comment.
  • I am sorry that the information I gave you was inaccurate.
  • I apologize for not acknowledging your excellent performance in helping secure the Doe contract.
  • I apologize for any inconvenience my lateness may have caused.
Phrases
  • apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused
  • apologize for the damage to
  • apologize for not acknowledging your excellent performance in
  • apologize for the damage my daughter did
  • apologize for my inattention that caused
  • apologize for this inconvenience
  • by no means meant to
  • deeply regret that
  • don't have an excuse for the delay, but I am truly sorry
  • extremely sorry that
  • feel very bad about the damage to
  • hope you will forgive the long delay in
  • hope you can forgive
  • let me apologize for not returning your
  • owe you an apology for not returning them sooner
  • please accept my deepest apologies for
  • please let me apologize for
  • please forgive me for not writing
  • please accept my sincerest apologies for the delay
  • please excuse my delay in thanking you for
  • regret that I shattered your beautiful
  • sorry about the damage to your
  • sorry that I didn't see
  • sorry that I damaged
  • sorry about the carelessness that caused
  • sorry I didn't return your book sooner
  • sorry I didn't check with you before the
  • sorry for the way I acted at your party last night
  • sorry I forgot your birthday
  • sorry that I didn't return your phone call
  • sorry I missed our appointment on
  • sorry that the information I gave you was inaccurate
  • very distressed about

2 Acknowledge the reader's frustration.

Sentences
  • Thank you for the way you handled the incident at the time. I am sure what I said must have been embarrassing. You showed remarkable restraint in quietly asking me to leave.
  • I understand that such inconveniences can be very frustrating. Thank you for your patience.
  • Jane, I know you were looking forward to our lunch date as much as I was.
  • I know what it is like to have a no-show for an important appointment, so I sincerely appreciate your patience with me.
  • I know it can be extremely frustrating when you have worked hard on a project only to see other people get the recognition.
  • I can imagine how upset you must have been. I am grateful for the restraint you demonstrated after the incident.
Phrases
  • after all you had done to
  • can imagine how upset you must have been
  • did not get the recognition you deserve
  • don't blame you for feeling
  • grateful for the patience you showed
  • have experienced similar frustration with
  • have had to put up with
  • have admirable self-restraint
  • imagine it can be pretty annoying to
  • know what it is like to be
  • know you were really looking forward to
  • know it can be extremely frustrating when
  • must be extremely disappointed in
  • must be very angry
  • must have frustrated you terribly
  • others do not understand what
  • realize you work hard to
  • realize that it must be difficult to
  • realize that this caused
  • showed remarkable restraint
  • spent a lot of time
  • sure this caused a great inconvenience
  • thank you for the way you handled the incident
  • the oversight was inexcusable
  • thoroughly justified in being upset at
  • try to understand your frustration
  • understand your displeasure with
  • understand that such inconveniences can be
  • very kind in the face of
  • was embarrassing for both of us
  • what I said must have embarrassed
  • work hard to maintain a first rate
  • would try anyone's patience
  • wouldn't blame you for
  • your feelings are justified, considering

3 If applicable, mention any specific steps taken to correct the problem. You may want to explain how the offense happened, but do not blame someone else.

Sentences
  • I realize this small gesture can in no way make up for your loss, but please accept these flowers as a token of my good will and the high esteem in which I hold you and your family.
  • My behavior was inexcusable, but I assure you this will not happen again.
  • I have told John that he will have to repaint your garage door himself, and we will deduct the costs for paint and supplies from his allowance. This will be a valuable learning experience for him. Let me assure you that John's vandalism did not come from any ill will toward you or your family.
  • With this letter I have enclosed a check that should cover the cost of having your carpet cleaned.
  • Enclosed is a revised report with corrected information. I have told Jane that I am to blame for the inaccurate statistics she received.
  • I had problems with my answering machine, so I didn't get your message. The machine is working now, so please give me a call.
  • I have taken up this matter with young John and he has assured me that he has learned his lesson.
Phrases
  • although it will not be exactly the same
  • am responsible for the damage so I will
  • are mailing the booklets you ordered
  • assist in the rebuilding of
  • assure you this will not happen again
  • compensate you for the loss of
  • enclosed is a revised report with correct information
  • expect to have it ready by the end of the week
  • feel that I must
  • happy to send you our records of
  • have taken up this matter with
  • have enclosed a check to cover the cost of
  • have enclosed that amount
  • information you requested will be
  • let me pay the insurance deductible
  • my insurance should cover the damages
  • pay the bill you received from the
  • please accept these flowers as a token of my
  • please accept our donation toward the upkeep of
  • promise a long letter when I return
  • want to pay for the damages
  • want to make amends
  • will not feel good about it until I have
  • will have a repairman fix
  • will personally take care of
  • will replace the book next week
  • will send you a copy
  • will talk with John to
  • willing to do whatever is necessary to

4 If your apology concerns a problem you were unaware of, thank the reader for bringing it to your attention.

Sentences
  • I was not aware that my daughter had been playing with lighted candles. Thank you for pointing this out to me so my husband and I could have a talk with her.
  • I really did not know I was behaving inappropriately. Thank you for telling me.
  • Thank you for caring enough to tell us that you caught John in the act. It gives us a chance to work with him on his problem. We appreciate the courteous manner in which you brought this to our attention.
  • I didn't realize my dog had an accident on your carpet. Thank you for letting me know that his training is not yet completed.
  • It is fortunate for us that you were so alert in catching this error. Thank you for pointing it out.
Phrases
  • appreciate the friendly way in which you
  • appreciate your letting me know
  • didn't know that the agreement
  • didn't know that you had requested
  • didn't know that she hadn't returned
  • didn't realize that
  • fortunate for us that you were so alert
  • found out that this happened before
  • had no idea that it would
  • it was important for us to
  • need to know these things
  • need to improve communications with
  • really did not know that
  • thank you for caring enough to tell us that you
  • thank you for telling me
  • thank you for letting me know
  • thank you for pointing out
  • thanks for calling this matter to my attention
  • was under the impression that
  • was not aware that
  • was unfortunately not aware that

5 End with a positive statement and offer some form of compensation or restitution, if appropriate.

Sentences
  • Apart from this incident, we enjoyed our stay. Thank you for helping make our family visit a pleasant one.
  • Jane, I know that you would never ask, but please let me pay your carpet cleaning bill.
  • Please accept the enclosed check as compensation for your damaged doll. We regret the unfortunate incident that marred an otherwise rewarding experience.
  • Thank you for pointing out this mistake to me. I am always eager to improve my work.
  • Let's reschedule for Wednesday so I can make it up to you. This time please allow me to provide the lunch.
  • Because of your performance on the Doe contract, I am pleased to reward your efforts with a well-deserved raise. Thank you for your valuable contribution.
Phrases
  • although it will not be exactly the same
  • am responsible for the damage, so I will
  • appreciate your lending me this interesting book
  • assist in the rebuilding
  • compensate you for the loss of
  • feel that I must
  • glad you found some of the data useful
  • have taken up this matter with
  • have enclosed that amount
  • have decided to give
  • hope to have the opportunity to
  • it was kind of you to lend me the
  • let me buy lunch
  • look forward to working with
  • please accept the enclosed check as compensation for
  • please keep us in mind for future events
  • please let me pay your
  • confident the event will be an outstanding success
  • thank you for being patient
  • thank you for pointing out that
  • thank you again for a wonderful experience at
  • thank you for your valuable contribution
  • thank you for helping make our visit a pleasant one
  • thank you so much for your generosity
  • thanks so much for thinking of us
  • to make it up to you, let us reschedule for
  • want to make everything right
  • want to pay for the damages
  • will have a repairman fix
  • will not feel good about it until I have
  • will personally take care of
  • willing to do whatever is necessary to

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