I received an email from a new professor in my department asking for a native English speaker's check of his paper. Since no one had ever asked me to check their English before, whereas I had previously asked fellow grad students to check my Japanese, I assumed the email was from some student who I didn't know personally. I had only met this professor once in person, so I didn't recognize it was him from his name in the email. Thus, I did not refer to him as 「先生」 and instead replied with:




この論文の目的は何でしょうか(例えば、日本での発表、海外の発表、海外の学術誌)。 宮嶋さんの希望は、英語の文法などのチェックだけでしょうか、または、西洋の論文の構成やスタイルもチェックでしょうか。私にとって両方とも大丈夫ですので、宮嶋さんの選好にします。


When I found out afterward that I sent that to a professor, I felt terribly embarrassed!!

How can I write an adequately polite and humble email that apologizes for not realizing it was him, and for my rudeness?

What is the most polite way to express that I had not recognized his name?

I found some nice apologetic phrases at ビジネスメールの書き方, but I'm not sure which ones are most suitable for this case, such as:

  • 無礼千万なことと、謹んでお詫びを申しあげます。
  • とんだ失態を演じてしまいまして、まことにお恥ずかしい限りです。
  • 大変失礼いたしました。
  • 誤解を与えたようでしたら、謝罪いたします。
  • 今回の件を厳粛に受け止め、陳謝いたします。
  • 配慮が行き届かなかったと、自責の念にかられております。
  • 不注意であったと、反省いたしております。
  • 私の不徳のいたすところと、猛省しております。
  • 弊社の不注意でこのようなことになり、本当に申し訳ありません。

1 Answer 1


I feel that the expressions you listed include "super-polite" apologies which would be a bit too much in this situation. The professor would be surprised if you really used these heavy expressions. (And it would be more true considering the fact that he knows you're not a native speaker of Japanese.)

Among those, 大変失礼いたしました is probably the safest, and you can write something like this:


A native business person who is strict on business manner may take this more seriously and recommend stronger expressions, but I personally feel an average academic researcher is kind enough to forget this instantly.

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