Difference between “I’m Sorry” and “I Apologize”

Most people don’t realize that there’s a subtle difference between saying“I’m sorry.” and “I apologize.” An apology is a formal admission of doing something that shouldn’t have been done. It may or may not be heartfelt i.e. a person may apologize without truly feeling remorse.

i'm sorry vs i apologize2

On the other hand, saying “I am sorry.” is a truer admission of regret. It is what we may call a heartfelt apology. If someone says they are sorry but do not truly feel remorse, then they are said to be lying. However, if someone apologizes but are not truly ruing their actions, they are not lying.

“I’m sorry”‘ is also used to express sympathy. For example, I’m sorry for your loss. There is no such usage for I apologize. An apology is only for wrongdoing.

Let’s check some examples right quick below:

  • When Karen’s boyfriend cheated on her, she got angry and smashed the windshield of his car. She later apologized. In this example, Karen does not really regret her action because she feels it was justified.
  • On the other hand, saying “I am sorry” is more apt in situations when you cause another person emotional distress. For example, I am sorry I recorded the soccer match over our wedding video.
  •  Another obvious scenario where there is a difference is when you are expressing sympathy. e.g. I am sorry your children fell sick before the camping trip.It would be absurd to say “I apologize” in this case because you weren’t responsible.


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