5

I'm surprised this question hasn't been asked already so in case I just missed it in my searches please point me to it.

Is there a general way to express "being sorry" not when apologizing of course, but rather when you want to convey sympathy towards someone's unfortunate circumstances.

I am sure that in certain specific situations there would be standard sentences for this, e.g., "I'm sorry for your loss".

However, I'm interested in more general situations. How to answer "Oh, I'm sorry about that" when someone tell's you about something unfortunate they are/have been going through?

Random examples:

  1. A: I lost my wallet with all my documents in it.

    B: Oh, I'm sorry about that...

  2. A: I didn't get the scholarship and I won't be able to go study abroad.

    B: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that...

  3. A: I got fired.

    B: Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that...

I tried on purpose to think of situations with different degrees of severity. Also suppose that A and B are quite close, but I think regardless of A and B's relationship in English one would say something on the line of "I'm sorry" (the difference stands in how much A means it).

One thing I could think of in Japanese would be

B: "あ、それは残念/大変ですね..."

However, this to me sounds more like an objective acknowledgment that something is bad/unfortunate rather than a subjective expression of one own's sympathetic feelings. Something like in English maybe would be "Ah, that's too bad/that sucks...".

So is there something in Japanese closer to the English "being sorry" in this kind of situations? Or very simply people just wouldn't use anything like that?

  • If 残念 was an objective statement, it would not take the form of 残念がる. – macraf Sep 5 '17 at 5:40
4

A: I lost my wallet with all my documents in it.

B: Oh, I'm sorry about that...

おお、それは大変でしたね。

A: I didn't get the scholarship and I won't be able to go study abroad.

B: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that...

おお、それは残念でしたね。

A: I got fired.

B: Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that...

ええっ? それは大変でしたね。大丈夫ですか。

These are my responses. In short, I agree with what you thought of.

3

The expression that matches "being sorry" is それは お気の毒に… / お気の毒(さま)です.

(残念だ is used when something ends without reaching expectation. So, you don't really use it in the cases of 1 or 3 unless it implies that it prevents the person from doing something. However, I think it's a compassion rather than an objective acknowledgement.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.