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Expressing Regret (Formal and Informal)


Expressing Regret (Formal and Informal) – Basic competence: Responding to the meaning in transactional conversation (to get things done) and interpersonal (social) and continued (sustained) accurately, fluently and acceptable that uses a variety of spoken language and involves speech: expressing regret (formal and informal)


Learning objective: In this lesson you will learn how to express regret in English both formally and informally in daily life context.

Expressing Regret

How do you feel when you made a mistake?
How do feel when you’re failed in the exam because you did not study hard?
Did you feel guilty when you are in those situations?

That kind of feeling is called regret. Regret is an unhappy feeling about what have you done or decided in the past. It is like saying sorry to yourself or someone else. When expressing regret, people commonly put a good intention or attitude to do better and to not make the same mistake anymore. For example, they will say:

o I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.
o I regret on what I did.

There are so many phrases you can use to express regret. However, you should pay attention to the situations. The way we express our regret shows determination in our apologizing. We can just say “Sorry!” when we bump into someone in the street. In the other hand, it is not appropriate to say “Sorry!” when you have done something very wrong. Remember that the more serious our regret, the more formal we express it.


You can use the following informal phrases to show that your regret is less serious.
• Sorry! / I’m sorry.
Andre: Hey, did you hear me? I called your name like five times.
Ryan: I’m sorry. I was listening to the music.

• I didn’t mean it.
Billy: Excuse me. You step on my foot.
Diana: Sorry, I didn’t mean it.

You can use the following phrases to show that your regret is serious.

• I regret….
Teacher: I see your score is falling. Did you prepare for the test?
Student: I regret that I didn’t do my best, Sir. I’ll study harder for the next exam.

• I shouldn’t have….

Mom: Willy, where is your little brother? Did you walk him home?
Willy: Oh my god! I’m so sorry mom. I shouldn’t have left him alone on the street.
Mom: Are you serious? He’s just a child. Go pick your brother now.
Willy: Okay Mom, I’m going.

• I’m very sorry
Sansa: Arya, you spoil your drink on my desk!
Arya: I’m very sorry, Sansa. I’ll clean it right now. Please don’t be mad at me.

You can use the following formal phrases to show that you regret is more serious.
• I feel guilty about….
Rizal: I regret that I lied to my mom. I feel guilty about it
Gina: That’s all right. I know she will understand.

• I cannot say how regretful I am.

• I can’t forgive my self for what I have done/said.

You can also use these patterns to show regret:

I wish …. (use the past participle)
o I wish I could get a higher score for Math. ( I regret getting a low score on Math)
o I wish I had woken up early. (I regret that I did not wake up early)

If I had (hadn’t) …, I would (wouldn’t) have …
o If I had not gone last night, my dad would not have scolded me. (My dad scolded me because I had gone last night)
o I would not have been lost, if I had brought the map. (I am lost because I did not bring the map)

Do you understand?

Example in conversations:
Conversation 1
(Situation: Wulan regrets that she lost her friend’s notebook.)
Sofie : “Wulan, can I take my notebook?”
Wulan : “I’m sorry. I left your book accidently in the library yesterday.”
Sofie : “How come? What should I do now? We will have an exam tomorrow, won’t we?”
Wulan : “Yes. I regret leaving your book. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m trying to copy the note. You can use mine to learn. I am really sorry.”
Sofie : “Is it okay?”
Wulan : “Yes, I’m okay with that. This is my mistake.”
Sofie : “Alright. Thank you.”

Conversation 2
(Situation: Ivan forgot what his mother asked him.)
Mother : “Ivan, Did you bring the cake from Mrs. Liza?”
Ivan : “I’m terribly sorry, mom. I forgot”
Mother : “Where have you been?”
Ivan : “I went playing football with friends.”
Mother : “You know, Mrs. Liza must’ve been waiting for us to take that cake.”
Ivan : “I regret that I forgot it, here.
Mother : “You go to her house now, and say that you’re sorry. I have to call her.”

Key Points

To sum up this lesson:
* Remember that expressing regret means being sorry and asking for an apologize.
* We need to be aware to situation before expressing our regret.
* The more serious mistake that we did, the more serious regret that we show.

Expressing Regret (Formal and Informal) | lookadmin | 4.5