Ways to Say Sorry in Bahasa Indonesia

“Maaf” is the most common way to say sorry in bahasa Indonesia. Unlike English which has several expressions, Bahasa Indonesia only has “maaf”. Here are some expressions that are useful.


This expression, other than to apologize, also functions as opening statement when you want to open a conversation with person or people you do not know. Let’s say you want to ask for direction. Here are expressions you can use with “maaf”.

Indonesian English
Maaf, bolehkah saya bertanya arah ke ..... Sorry, can I ask for directions to .....
Maaf, bisa tolong tunjukkan saya arah ke ..... Sorry, can you please show me directions to .....
Maaf, tolong tunjukkan jalan ke ..... Sorry, please show me directions to .....
Maaf, kalau ke ..... lewat jalan mana? Sorry, if I want to go to ..... which way should I take?
Maaf, dimana letak ..... Sorry, where is ..... located?
When “maaf” means “to ask for pardon” or “to apologize”, let’s say you have just made a mistake and you are really sorry for that then you want to ask for apoligize, here are some expressions that you can use.

Indonesian English
Maaf, saya telah melakukan kesalahan Sorry, I have just made a mistake
Maaf, ini salahku Sorry, this is my fault
Maaf, saya mengaku salah Sorry, I admit my mistake
Maaf, kalau saya ingin ke ..... saya harus lewat mana? Sorry, if I want to go to ..... which way should I take?

Meminta Maaf

Meminta maaf literally means “asking or apologize”. This expression is more formal than “maaf”. This expression is usually uttered when person or people you want to apologize to has a relationship with you, such as your boss, etc. Remember, in using this expression, you will need subject of the sentence. This expression is not independent like “maaf”. Here are some examples on how this expressions are used in real world.

Indonesian English
Saya meminta maaf atas kejadian ini I apologize for this
Saya meminta maaf untuk semuanya I apologize for everything
Saya meminta maaf atas kesalahan saya I apologize for my mistake

Maafkan Saya

The way this expression is used is closely similar with the two previous expressions. In using this expression, you do not need a subject. You can simply say “maafkan saya atas semuanya” or “maafkan saya atas kejadian ini”. This expression is personally oriented, sounds more intimate and sincere, and psychologically powerful.

Saya Memohon Maaf

This is commonly found in written form like in apology statement as this is the most formal expression  among all expressions. In using this expression, you can simply say “saya memohon maaf atas kejadian ini” or “saya memohon maaf atas semuanya”. The literal translation of “saya memohon maaf” is similar with examples which have been given on the table above. However, this expression has higher degree of formality. Use this expression when you are in a formal situation or if you want to ask for apology through written form.