What are the hardest words to pronounce in English? It seems that "I'm sorry" are the two most difficult words for most people to say. Perhaps this difficulty lies in the so-called "losing of face"; when a person apologizes, he lowers himself before another. Yet no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. After making a mistake, people should apologize to set things straight with others.
Two phrases in English often confuse non-native users of this language. These phrases are "I'm sorry" and "Excuse me." The latter is used to ask for information, as in "Excuse me, (but) do you have the time?" or "Excuse me, (but) can you tell me whether there is a post office near here?" "Excuse me" is also used when it is necessary to disturb others, as when one person interrupts two others speaking: "Excuse me for interrupting, (but) I have to leave now." Another example of the proper usage of this phrase is when, as a stranger, you want to point something out of benefit to someone, as in "Excuse me, (but) I believe you dropped something out of your wallet." Another common instance of using "Excuse me" is in crowded elevators, stores, or lines when a person needs to get through or get out. "Excuse me, (but) this is my floor" is a very handy phrase to learn when in crowded elevators. In all these cases, "Pardon me" may also be used; however, it is more often used in British than in American English.
When is "I'm sorry" used? For more serious incidents. Stepping on someone's toes on a crowded bus, though not intentional, should elicit an immediate "I'm sorry." Bumping into someone even on a crowded street where it is difficult not to also calls for "I'm sorry." Careless or late work in school or in the office requires our apology to teachers, colleagues, or employers. Being late for meetings or dates needs both an apology and often either a reason for the tardiness or an explanation of what course of action will be taken to eliminate any future possibility of recurrence. No one likes to be wronged, intentionally or otherwise. Saying "I'm sorry" can go a long way towards rectifying an awkward situation.
Even more importantly, saying "I'm sorry" is necessary when intentional harm has been done. The borrowing of an item without first informing the owner —— who later discovers the "theft" —— can be quite embarrassing. A simple but sincere "I'm sorry" might repair the damage done. Careless comments or insults which offend others may be ameliorated with that simple phrase, though sincerity in voice and gesture make all the difference. Similarly, young lovers, often exasperated in unrequited love, may purposefully hurt each other, only later to profoundly regret what they had done. At these times, a heartfelt "I'm sorry" may redress the pain of the one inflicted by love's arrows. Even better, "Please forgive me" may be used, as it is considered a stronger expression of remorse.
Learning to apologize in another language does not excuse speakers from practicing the same good manners in their mother tongue. So many people lament the coldness of modern society; human relationships have been worn thin from constant urban pressures. Part of this problem seems to be that people no longer use such simple words as "please," "thank you," and "I'm sorry." They cost nothing, but can bring a wealth of pleasure or relief to those who hear them. They require little effort, yet these few syllables can enliven someone else's day. So, why not use them whenever possible?
英语中有两句话常让母语非英语的人士搞混，这两句话是"I'm sorry"（对不起）及"Excuse me"（对不起）。第二句话是用来请教他人的，如“对不起，现在几点了？”或是“对不起，能否告诉我这附近有邮局吗？”当我们得打扰他人时，亦可使用 "Excuse me"。譬如要打断两个人的对话时，就可说：“对不起打断诸位的谈话，我现在得离开了。”适当运用这句话的另一例就是当你与某人素昧平生而出自善意，想向对方指点时，就可说：“对不起，我想你皮夹子里有东西掉出来了。”使用"Excuse me" 的另一常例就是在拥挤的电梯间、商店内、或排长龙队时，有人要从中穿过或走出来的时候。在拥挤的电梯间内，学会这句话“对不起，我的楼层到了。”是挺管用的。以上各例中，亦可使用"Pardon me"（对不起）；然而，"Pardon me" 在英式英语用的机率要比美语多。
什么时候才用 " I'm sorry "（对不起）呢？"I'm sorry" 用于事态较严重的情况。在拥挤的公交车上踩到别人的脚，虽是无心之过，也应立刻说声 "I'm sorry"。在拥挤的街道上撞到别人时，即使是情非得已，也必须向对方说声 "I'm sorry"。在校或在公司内，我们表现粗心或迟缓，都必须向老师、同事或老板表示歉意。开会或约会迟到不但要致歉，而且要解释迟到的原因，或说明自己将采取哪些措施，不再让类似的情况发生。没有人喜欢被误解，不管这个误解是有心还是无心的。说声"I'm sorry" 对尴尬场面的改观大有帮助。
更重要的是，当造成的伤害是有心时，就有必要说声 "I'm sorry"。借东西却未事先告知其所有人，而对方事后发现时，会是相当难为情的。一句简单却诚恳的 "I'm sorry" 也许就可弥补已经造成的伤害。无心得罪他人的批评与侮辱，用这句简单的话或许就可以改善情况，不过语气及肢体动作的诚恳则是非常关键。同样地，年轻的情侣陷入在单恋的苦痛中时，往往会故意伤害彼此，事后却深深后悔自己的所作所为。在这些时候，真心的一句 "I'm sorry" 也许就能减轻被爱的利箭所刺伤的一方的痛苦。我们甚至可以使用更好的一句"Please forgive me"（请原谅我），因为一般认为这句话更能强烈表达悔意。