When i was a kid somone told me "i am sorry" is only used only in some situation amd should not be used , instead you should use "I'm sorry".

Is really a different between the meaning of these two sentences?

  • 2
    It is never wrong to say "I am". In the specific example, you can emphasize the "am" to make it sound more sincere, rather than the casual "I'm sorry" used if you bump someone accidentally. Nov 17, 2018 at 19:34
  • There is no actual difference in meaning between the two sentences. In general I think you'll probably hear 'I'm sorry' more, but only because of the prevalence of contractions in speech.
    – EenBeetje
    Nov 17, 2018 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


Weather Vane is correct in his comment. There is no technical difference between the two phrases (that is, they both mean the same thing). Saying 'I am sorry' can put more emphasis on the 'am', thus indicating your sincerity: 'I am sorry.'

This does not mean 'I'm sorry' isn't sincere; it merely comes down to how you say it.

If you are writing, spelling out 'I am sorry' automatically conveys more attention to the phrase (they didn't use a contraction), which in turn automatically conveys more sincerity:

"I'm sorry," Jane said as she walked by.

"I am sorry," Jane said as she walked by.

You can hear the difference. One sounds more sincere than the other.

  • What is a "technical difference"? I can name half a dozen differences between "I'm" and "I am", and some of those are quite technical indeed. For starters, these are two completely different sequences of ones and zeroes. That not a technical difference?
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 17, 2018 at 22:41
  • In this case I simply mean that they mean the same thing. Aka, technically, there is no difference. Nov 19, 2018 at 0:42

In spoken British English this is a minefield ;) We're addicted to saying sorry as a subtle status play. Each variant can sound sarcastic or even insulting depending on the situation and tone of voice.

In general 'I'm sorry' is safer, just because it's more friendly. 'I apologise' is a completely safe and unambiguous backup.

However watch your tone as there's also 'I'm sorry??' as a question which depending on the intonation can mean 'I didn't catch that' (neutral) or 'what the --- are you talking about?' (aggressive). Note that in this questioning sense we never use 'I am sorry?'

If using either in conversation in England be sure to make eye contact and adopt a sincere expression! Another way to emphasise sincerity is to add 'Oh'. 'Oh, I'm sorry' and 'Oh, I am sorry' in spoken British English are both idiomatic and interchangeable although you wouldn't generally use them in writing.

If I bumped into someone in the street I'd probably say just 'sorry', or 'oh, sorry', or if it's a man 'sorry mate'.

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