By “I’m Sorry,” I Mean “Thank You”

Last year, Amy Schumer had an amazing sketch on her show about how some people say “sorry” way too much, to the point that the word completely loses any meaning and the people who use it end up diminishing their value.

I’m one of those people.

My most common use of “sorry” is when walking in public. I think I picked this up in Japan, where it’s common to say “sumimasen” (excuse me/I’m sorry) if you’re skirting past people.

This happened the other day at a movie theater. It’s a little thing, but I remember it: My friends had already found their seats in the middle of a row. I had to scoot past three people to get to my seats, and on the way I apologized: “Sorry, sorry!”

I do this all the time. It never quite feels like the right word, but I’ve used it for this purpose for so long that I haven’t known to replace it with anything else.

Until today. Until, literally, 20 minutes ago.

That’s when I read this blog entry. It proposes a new way to say “sorry” in situations where I don’t actually mean to apologize. Here’s an example:


THANK YOU. Those words say it so much better than “I’m sorry.” Instead of making it about me, it’s an expression of gratitude for someone else. I love that.

I’m going to try this from now on. I’m sure I’ll have to remind myself of it quite a bit, but hopefully it won’t take too long to adapt it.

Can you relate to this? Does the substitution of “thanks” for “sorry” work for you in situations where you don’t actually mean to apologize?

5 thoughts on “By “I’m Sorry,” I Mean “Thank You””

  1. It seems that I am late on leaving a comment on the past couple of intriguing posts. Thank you for your patience.

    Anyway, I saw this comic a while ago and promptly forgot about it. I say “sorry” too much in all sorts of situations that it either lost its real meaning of regreting the outcome or make me feel bad for existing/being in the way. I picked this habit here in the States. I used to just say “excuse me” in two ways in Cantonese when I was a kid. I don’t say “I’m sorry for being in the way”; however, it can be translate as such. That was better than being “sorry ” all the time. It just makes me feel shameful. I need to remember this for my time to time lateness and other situations. Thanks for the reminder post!

  2. Jasmin: I’m glad you like the idea! If you remember where you saw the comic, let me know–I don’t know the author for it.

  3. Susie: That’s brilliant! I really like it. I only wish she had used a format that I could subscribe to (i.e., posting individual entries instead of adding to the same page), as it’s something I’d like to follow over time.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading