I have to apologize for a procedural error at work, and am unsure about selecting the right form of apology from the variants of 「ご迷惑をおかけ・・・」:




Also, whether or not to append 「でした」to the end.

The thing I am apologizing for is a mistake in a business purchase. I charged a purchase to my corporate card, but should have had the vendor bill monthly using the 分割払【ぶんかつばら】い option. So a brief explanation, concluding with this apology, will be written in the comment section of my expense report. The reason for apologizing is not to really say I am sorry, but just to let everybody in the approval chain for my expense report know that I now know I did it wrong, and won't do it like this in the future.

I chose to write it as follows:



Firstly, this is an internal company communication, and the people to whom I will submit this document are of a lesser coporate rank than myself (although they are not my subordinates, since the work for the Finance Department). So I felt like 「申し訳ございません」was too much.

(Also, I confess, because I don't yet really understand the full nuance of super-polite self-humbling apology in Japanese, so I tend to never use verbs like 「ございます」or 「いたします」. )

Does that reasoning make sense?

Secondly, as for the 「でした」 at the end, I put it in the past tense because the procedural error I made happened last month. The way I think of it, I'm saying, "Sorry for the error I made last month," so I put it in past tense.

But I wasn't confident about this, because the actual bother I am causing them is actually happening at the time I submit my expense report. So in a different sense I am saying, "Sorry for the bother I am causing you right now by submitting this unexpectedly high expense report, due to the error I made last month". Thought about that way, I wondered if the apology should be in the present tense.

Which is correct? Or might either one work?

(And speaking of apologies: sorry for the two-part question; I couldn't cleanly separate these two concerns.)

2 Answers 2


I'm no keigo expert, but it seems to me that choice #1 is a bit too formal/humble for an internal memo or comment to someone that's not in a higher position than you. Choices #2 and #3 seem a bit better, but the humble form お + verb + する for かける seems a bit too humble to me in this case. I would change #2 to 「ご迷惑をかけて申し訳ありません」 and #3 to 「ご迷惑をかけてすみません」.

In my case I would probably use #2. #3 seems a bit too familiar to use on someone in a work environment where you don't necessarily know exactly who they are and you haven't interacted personally with them before. Also, changing it to the past tense should be fine, since you've already made the mistake, you are just reporting/explaining it on your expense report.


It is not an apology.

It is a standard ending of a letter to the person you depend on. Like your boss, a person on position who helps you without earning benefits directly, and a customer who you ask to do something. The meaning is simply "sorry for disturbing you with this request."

Then, if it comes to apologies, you have to use "total kenjougo" in the letter, and begin it with ....,まことに申し訳ございませんでした。or some equivalent to that.

BTW, this thing with a credit card is officially called "power harassment" in Japan. In companies it is applied to foreigners more often than to Japanese women. Media raises the topic, but the state does not care, so you can't go to lawyer, like you would do in the USA. See "Fear and Trembling" movie(or read the book).

  • まこと申し訳ございませんでした -- 一文字抜けてますよ
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 23:39
  • yep, my miss. corrected
    – Asdf
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 23:43

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