Translation:I am sorry.
Yes, the なさい is there just to make the phrase more formal. It should be noted that ごめん[なさい] is pretty never used in written correspondence or in business settings. 申し訳ありません (moshiwakearimasen) is used, a very formal phrase.
ごめん can also be distinguished from すみません in that すみません is more formal than ごめん , so only use ごめん with friends and family.
In short, if these were ranked in terms of politeness, from most formal to least:
申し訳ありません/もうしわけありません (use for business) すみません (use with strangers and in public generally) ごめんなさい (use with friends and family) ごめん (use with friends and family, most likely just friends and siblings)
The Inuits have a thousand words for snow.
The Japanese have a thousand ways of apologizing.
It is a myth that they have a thousand words for snow. They don't have significantly more words for snow than we do. (It's also a myth that English just has the one word "snow".) But their grammar works differently than our does, so there are ways to incorporate their basic words for snow into bigger words.
No analogy is perfect, but it's kind of like saying that "snow", "snows", and "snowing" are all different words when really they're all forms of the same word.
In English, you could say snow, snows, white fluffy stuff falling from the sky when it's cold, frozen water, little tiny ice crystals that have never had an exact replica of it in the world ever, gentle little white things that have the potential to be extremely destructive, etc.
Wow I never really thought about all of the synonyms that you could make for "snow"... :0
We have different ways to talk about snow in English as well.
Depends who you ask. Sticklers will say that the only "proper" one is すみません, but personally, I think both are essentially the same.
You can get much more rough with your apologies, so I definitely wouldn't call すいません a "slang word". Examples you should NOT use unless you know what you're doing: すまない, すまん, わるかった, わるい
If they were being said by Japanese people in Japanese TV shows (and it didn't seem like they were being used cynically or ironically), then that's probably the best guide you'll find. Just take note of what sort of personality the person has, how the other people reacted to it, and what situation it's being used in.
Otherwise, I (not a native Japanese speaker) would roughly describe them as follows:
- すまない cheeky/not genuine, more likely to be used by young men
- すまん gruff/begrudging, more likely to be used by older men
- わるかった/わるい casual/light, more likely to be used by (school-aged and college) students
However, I definitely don't feel versed enough to properly describe when each phrase might be "appropriate".
Polite expression of "sorry"
I'm disappointed, my feelings aren't clear
"Sorry," is a word that has the negative form of "nu = no" in "do it."
This includes apologies and remorse when saying "I have done this and my heart does not feel good" when I am sorry or annoyed by the other person.
adding taihen did not make it the more polite version, rather it just add feelings like emphasizing how very very very sorry you are. suimasen is not informal rather its a variation of sumimasen that has changed throughout time, sumimasen is sumimasen, suimasen is suimasen, both are in masu form so both are still formal.
It doesn't, but 申し訳
ございません is more polite than 申し訳
I also said that すいません is "slightly more informal" than すみません, not that it's completely informal. すいません is a variation, but it's a non-standard variation which is a result of people being more relaxed (read: less formal) with their pronunciation.
As per various sources (japanesepod101, etc.), in the context of apologies, sumimasen is actually the more 'formal' phrase although it also has a ton of other uses like excuse me, thanks, sorry for to bother you, etc. Gomenasai/gomen for apologizing to people you're familiar with, like saying sorry i'm late to a friend. Moushiwake arimasen for formal business/clients.
Moshi wake arimasen is "there is no excuse/reason", sumimasen is "it is inexcusable", gomen nasai is "please forgive me" with the nasai being an honorific form of desu and with an imperative (request/order) nuance. The English doesn't convey the nuances of formality very well, which the poster above explains well.
"Moushiwakearimasen" is a formal apology, while "shitsureishimasu" is more like "excuse me" (it literally means "I'm committing an act of rudeness"). It's often used when entering someone's office (excuse me, I'm coming in). "お先にしつれいします" (osaki ni shitsurei shimasu) is used when you leave work (I'm committing the act of rudeness of leaving before you).
"Gomenasai" is not really used by adults,as it sounds childish since this is what children say to their parents when they do something wrong. When talking to a stranger, such as a cashier or waiter/waitress, you would say, "sumimasen". If talking to your friends or family, you would say, "gomen". (I found this out from a native Japanese speaker)
This is possibly a regional or generational viewpoint, and feels like an oversimplification to me. When I lived Japan, I commonly heard adults saying ごめんなさい to strangers at train stations or department stores, etc. It may be a phrase that children use, but it by no means sounds childish (of course, it depends on your tone, but the phrase isn't inherently childish)
When it comes to talking to strangers, choosing ごめんなさい vs すみません comes down to the situation you're in. To use your waiter/waitress scenario, you would use すみません if they're cleaning the table next to you and you want to ask for some water, but when you accidentally knock the tray of glasses out of their hands in your eagerness for water, it's more appropriate to say ごめんなさい.
(I figured this out for myself by observing countless native Japanese speakers over two years. Edit: it sounds kind of creepy when I say it like that... I meant the two years I spent in Japan gave me many opportunities to interact with and witness the interactions of native Japanese speakers.)
Theoretically, either will work, but to me (not a native speaker), ごめんなさい sounds more apologetic.
You might say すみません if you lightly bump into someone on your way out of the subway, for example. But if you step on their toe with chunky boots on, it might be better to say ごめんなさい, several times f(^_^;
Indeed. The Spanish noun "perdón" is much like the noun "pardon" as in "I beg your pardon".
In Japanese, "gomen" is a verb that mean "to forgive" or "to pardon". ごめんなさい is literally "forgive me" or "pardon me".
Actually, ごめん (御免) by itself is a noun too, much like "pardon" or "perdón", which literally means "your pardon/your permission".
The phrase ごめんなさい is literally a firm, yet polite command. Nowadays it longer carries that curtness, but it uses the verb form しなさい which is typically now used by parents or teachers to reprimand their children/students.
I lived in Japan for nearly two years and don't remember using (or hearing) this ever. Whereas I used sumimasen every single day and when I was flying home from Japan and half asleep I accidentally elbowed the Japanese woman next to me and sumimasen popped out of my mouth as naturally as breathing.
Yes, I'd definitely recommend just memorizing these for now. Duolingo doesn't do a great job of explaining grammar in the first place, and these greeting-type phrases often have weird and/or exceptional grammatical rules, which are also commonly historical rules and no longer apply to most of the other Japanese words you might learn.
Plus, even if you understood the grammar, that doesn't necessarily mean you automatically understand the usage, which is easily the more important of the two. While you're not going to get perfect English equivalents of many of these phrases, (and Duolingo doesn't do a very good job of giving you context for inferred usage), it's better than nothing and better than beating yourself up about not understanding something that even native speakers probably don't care much about.
I just posted three same comments with some changes. It was not working properly and threw me errors and my comments weren't showing. So i tried commenting again and again. Then suddenly, it started working properly again, and when i checked, the comments i tried posting were there...all of them -_-
I tried to delete coz i dont want to spam but there's no delete button. So i am sorry for this.
ごめん is more casual than ごめんなさい, so it should only be used with people you're close to. I would use すみません with strangers. JapanesePod101 has an article called "SUMIMASEN or GOMEN NASAI?" if you want to read more: https://www.japanesepod101.com/lesson/absolute-beginner-questions-answered-by-hiroko-10-sumimasen-or-gomen-nasai/?lp=173
Interesting. I'm not a native speaker, but I think this lesson is oversimplifying it a bit, or there's a difference in usage in different regions of Japan. From my understanding, there's an issue of formality, which the lesson deals with, but there's also the issue of severity. (Full disclosure: I only read the transcript, because I didn't sign up to be able to watch the video)
The example she gave about apologizing to the waiter actually almost seems rude to me because すみません can also be a way to get someone's attention. ごめんなさい is generally used for more serious grievances, so breaking someone else's things and creating extra work for someone is probably a situation that warrants an unambiguous apology. To me, saying すみません in this situation sounds like "excuse me, are you going to get around to cleaning this up?"
To answer OP's question, assuming that the person you bump into is a complete stranger, I would agree with @IsolaCiao and say that ごめん is not the right word to use, but whether you use すみません or ごめんなさい depends how hard you hit them. If you just nudged them lightly, then I would use すみません, but if you caused them to fall down or spill a hot drink on themselves, I would go with ごめんなさい. Again, I'm not a native speaker and I learned practically all of my Japanese in Hokkaido, so the way they do things up north may be different from what's done in Tokyo.
You had me with "there's a difference in usage in different regions of Japan", and then lost me at "I learned practically all of my Japanese in Hokkaido" because I'm a Hokkaido girl through and through and I feel the same as the JapanPod101 article ;) I wouldn't say ごめんなさい to waiter unless I knew them / frequented the restaurant often. It feels too familiar for me to say it to a stranger. I can imagine that in somewhere like Osaka people would be more likely to use ごめんなさい even with strangers because their culture tends to be more open and friendly. Gender and age might also play a role.