Email of apology exercise

Apologizing in the English-speaking world is very important, especially in business or professional situations. If somebody isn't happy with you or even angry with you, an apology may be able to save the situation.

To apologize well, you not only have to say you are sorry, but explain what happened and what you are doing to correct the problem and/or make sure it doesn't happen again. When you do this, it's really important you use the correct type of vocabulary and phrases.

The best and quickest way to learn and (more importantly) remember what type of things you have to write and how to write them is not to be told, but for you to see a good email of apology and decide yourself why something is being written and what it means.

And this is what you will do in this online exercise on writing emails of apology in English. By first reading an example of an email of apology, you'll learn what type of things to write, where to write them and professional English phrases to use.

To make sure you understand what these phrases mean and how to use them correctly, there is a quiz/test after the example. Doing this quiz/test will help you to not forgot them and make sure that you don't use them incorrectly.

In English, 'apologize' can also be spelt 'apologise' (outside of America).

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on writing emails/letters

Example & Exercise: An email of apology

Read the following letter of apology from a supplier to a commercial customer regarding problems with a delivery of components.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

I would recommend that before you read this email and do the exercise, that you first quickly read the email of complaint which this email is answering. Reading it, will help you to better understand the situation, the purpose of the different parts of the below email and what you need to do to write your own email of apology.

Dear Mr Smith,

Further to your email of the 17th December 2009 regarding your order (ref no. 34ED12QP). First of all, please allow me to apologise for Peter Taylor not responding to your email. I can confirm that Peter has been on sick leave for the whole of this week. And although this explains the issue, it does not justify it.

It transpires that there was a miscommunication in his department and the person who should have been taking care of this issue, did not. I have already taken all the necessary measures to ensure that this does not happen again in the future. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

With regards to the issues about your order, I have taken personal charge of them. First of all, let me apologise for the late delivery. We should have made you aware about the delay at the time.

Regarding the damaged components, I can confirm the following:

It is normal policy here that we do not accept liability for problems with components if we are not notified within 7 working days after delivery. And due to the fact that you did not notify us until after 15 working days of the delivery, the Customer Service Department followed procedure.

But as we view you as a valuable customer, and we have worked together for over five years, rest assured that I will sort out this issue as a matter of urgency. I have already spoken to the Production Director here and he will confirm tomorrow when we can send the replacement components to you. I will update you about the situation with the components by the end of tomorrow at the latest.

Could you please confirm if this is adequate?

I do hope that this situation has not damaged your confidence in working with us.

Once again, please accept our apologises for any inconvenience caused.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me by mobile on 07995 348236.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Sally Boswell
Rugger Sales Director

Our other exercises and articles to help you write all types of good business emails

10 ways to write better business emails/letters


Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, this icon will appear next to the answer. Click on it to find extra information about the word/phrase (e.g. when, where and how to use etc...) and a translation in Spanish.


A formal way of saying that you are not responsible for something gone wrong, is


We do not accept liability for:
(phrase) A very formal way of saying 'it's not our fault or problem'. When you use this phrase, it means that you're not going to do anything to resolve or fix a problem/situation. In Spanish: "Negamos la responsabilidad de".



When you re-apologise, normally at the end of the email, you say


Please accept our apologises for any inconvenience caused:
(phrase) A formal phrase. This is placed at the end of an email or letter. In Spanish: "Disculpen las molestias que les hayamos podido ocasionar".



A formal way of saying 'for telling me about it', is


Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention:
(phrase) A formal expression commonly used in both emails and letters of apology. In Spanish: "Gracias por traer este asunto a mi atención".



A formal way of saying I hope it 'hasn't hurt our working relationship', is


Has not damaged your confidence in working with us:
(phrase) In general, this phrase is not necessary. Apologizing two or three times is sufficient. This phrase is normally placed at the end of an email or letter. In Spanish: "no ha dañado su confianza trabajando con nosotros".



A different way of saying 'I'm now mangaing this situation' is


Have taken personal charge:
(phrase) A phrase used when a senior manager takes over responsibility of an issue. Its purpose is to reassure the person complaining that they are doing everything possible to resolve it. In Spanish: "se ha hecho cargo personalmente de ello".



A formal way of saying 'don't worry, I'm going to fix the problem quickly', is


Rest assured that I will sort out this issue as a matter of urgency:
(phrase) A formal phrase which means 'don't worry, we're doing everything possible to fix/resolve it quickly.' In Spanish: "está seguro de que resolveré el problema con carácter de urgencia".



A very formal way of apologising, is


Please allow me to apologise for:
(phrase) A formal way to apologize that is normally used as the first apology in a letter or email. It is normally followed by the situation/problem the apology is for, e.g. 'Please allow me to apologise for the delay in the delivery of your order'. In Spanish: "permítanme disculparme por".



A polite way of saying your money is still important to us, is


View you as a valuable customer:
(phrase) A formal way of saying you're a very important customer/client. In Spanish: "vista que como un cliente valioso".



A formal way of telling somebody that the problem is fixed and won't happen again, is


Have already taken all the necessary measures to ensure:
(phrase) Normally, this phrase follows the initial apology and explanation. It is used to reassure the person complaining that this problem or situation will never happen again. In Spanish: "ya se han tomado todas las medidas necesarias para garantizarlo".



A verb that is used to explain the cause of a problem, is


It transpires:
(verb) The infinitive is "to transpire". In this context it is used to explain what the cause or reason of a problem or situation was. It is an intransitive verb which requires 'that' after the verb, e.g. 'It transpires that they never checked the documentation'. In Spanish: "ocurre".



Now that you understand the vocabulary, practise it by writing your own email of apology in English with the new words/phrases.