1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: French
  4. >
  5. Pardon or Desole?


Pardon or Desole?

I use to take a beginner's class online using a different site and to say "Sorry" it was to say "Pardon" in french. On here, it says use "Desole" to say sorry. Which one do I use?

October 28, 2013



when you bump into someone or you want to get the attention of someone for a question or to the waiter at the restaurant for example, "Pardon" is more used in France and "Excusez-moi" is more used in Québec, but still you can exchange them in both places and no one will look at you like an extra-terrestrial! ;) It means exactly the same thing in those situations. "Désolé" is more deep… you use it when you truly feel sorry about something or when you want to be extremely polite…. for example if you break something at your friend's place you would say "Je suis vraiment désolé" (I'm truly sorry), if your friend's mom lost her job you would say "je suis vraiment désolé pour ta mère" (I'm truly sorry for your mom)… But seriously, they really all mean the same so you don't really have to care about which one you use in which situation EXCEPT for "Pardon" that you don't use in the kind of situation like when your friend's mom lost her job cause "Pardon" comes from the verb "pardonner" which is "to forgive" so then you would say "Forgive me for your mom's lost" which makes no sens except if you're the reason why she lost her job….


by the way i'm a native french speaker from Québec...


so, does it mean, that "desole" is better to use as " I bring my apologies" or "I'm sorry about it", in the sense of condolence or in formal conversation or when I've done something really bad and want to be forgiven ? And "pardon" means, that I've done something wrong , but not enough wrong to be "desole", also can be used for drawing attention (by asking the way e.g.)?


exactly! :) also "excuses-moi" would have the same meaning and intensity as "pardon"


this was four years ago and yet im reading this now in 2018 cause i had the same question and its the best answer here... merci!


Erm. Well. 'Pardon' is used more for apologizing about a little accident, like bumping in to someone, or if you don't understand someone - like we do - you'd say 'pardon'. Je suis désolé(e) usually is found in a whole sentence, like 'Je suis désolé d'apprendre ca!', "I'm sorry to hear that" (Can't put cedillas on here sorry xD) It is actually rather hard to explain, but I do hope that helped a little :/


Well, I use with the same frequency désolé and pardon when bumping into someone.


I think both are fine, but pardon is just used more regularly. Désolé is the more formal one, I suppose


I don't think to be so formal... :)


Quite tricky/difficult since I'm pretty sure that some other French will not have the same "rules" I have about when using one or the other...

So I would say, to make it simple, that you can generally exchange them. If Duolingo refuses one, ask about it in the related discussion page.


If you bump into someone or step on his foot, you can say : "pardon !", "(je suis) désolé(e) !", "excusez-moi !", "je suis navré(e) !" (a bit pompous)


I've been living in Paris for the last few months, and in my experience you use 'Pardon' for bumping into someone, or minor day to day mishaps. 'Désolé' is a bit stronger, so if I were to accidentally step on someone's foot I would normally use that.


As I said, I use them almost equivalently (I'm French, Parisian) and for sure with the same frequency for bumping into someone, step on feet etc. in the metro (for example).

But, as said, in my first comment in this discussion, the use of this two words varies a lot between one French and another one and I'm pretty sure I would disagree with a lot of friends (and them between themselves also) about what to say in this or that situation.


In sutiation where you bump into someone/step on his foot etc., they are quite interchangeable, but if you want to say for example "Sorry, I can't go to the cinema with you", I'd use "désolé": Désolée, je peux pas aller au cinéma avec toi". "désolé" is somewhat stronger than "pardon", I think.


Pardon is "pardon" or "excuse me" in english; Desole meand "Sorry" (two totally different concepts


I live in Lyon, France and hear "pardon" a lot when out and about. I almost never hear "désolé(e)" in passing. I use it, though, when I'm apologizing to people about my awful French. ;)


my French teacher says to use both it doesn't really matter just use it in the correct way


desole is more sincere

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.