The French word "Excuse-moi" explained

We are going to teach you everything you want to know about the basic word “Excuse-moi”.

This include a complete explanation of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. And also the useful things we sprinkled like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonyms and more!

Oh and if you are interested, on this page you will find more of these words guides plus all our pages about French words on this page. Have fun!

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English translation

Pronunciation example

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does excuse-moi mean?


It literally means:

  • Excuse → Excuse
  • moi→ me

“Excuse-moi” is a common way to express “Excuse me” in French. It’s useful to express apologies in informal contexts or when talking to someone you already know.

How to use

Just like in English, “Excuse-moi” (excuse me) is typically used when apologizing for interrupting a friend or a family member, few examples:

  1. Excuse-moi, il est quelle heure ?→ Excuse me, what time is it?
  2. Excuse-moi de te déranger… → Sorry to bother you…
  3. etc.

But it can also be used to apologize in every other formal situation, to express “I am sorry“:

  • Tu m’as fait mal ! → You hurt me!
  • Excuse-moi, je ne l’ai pas fait exprès → I am sorry, I didn’t do it on purpose

Finally, when you need to express apologies in formal contexts, you can use instead: “Excusez-moi” (Excuse me) or “Toutes mes excuses” (All my excuses/apologies)


  • Excusez-moi → Excuse me (Formal)
  • Je m’excuse → I apologize
  • Désolé → Sorry
  • Pardon → Sorry
  • Toutes mes excuses → All my excuses/apologies (Formal)

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Une matinée au marché
A morning at the market
Tous les samedis matin, Olivia va au marché.
Every Saturday morning, Olivia goes to the market.
Elle aime se promener et regarder les fruits, les légumes, les fromages, les poissons, etc.
She enjoys walking around and looking at fruits, vegetables, cheeses, fish, etc.
Elle y va souvent seule…
She is often going there alone…
Mais de temps en temps, son copain Théo vient avec elle.
But from time to time, her boyfriend Théo comes with her.
En général, elle essaie de regarder tous les stands du marché.
Usually, she tries to look at all the stalls in the market.
Elle pense que c’est important de manger des produits frais et locaux.
She thinks it’s important to eat fresh and local products.
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