Mi scusi.

“Excuse me.”The TTS says “Mi dispiace”. Isn’t that rather “I’m sorry”?

Disclaimer: I’m not a native speaker of either language, so I may be missing some nuances here.

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Well, I can’t think of any way in which “Excuse me” can be misinterpreted as Mi dispiace, but on the other hand “I’m sorry” can be translated as Mi scusi (and vice-versa). Maybe that’s where the confusion comes from, although I’m not sure how the TTS could have got the wrong sentence as it would require both the Italian and English to be replaced (i.e. Mi dispiace / “I’m sorry”).

Now I believe that you were asking about any nuances related to how “Excuse me” might have different interpretations, and so you are probably fully aware of the different interpretations of “I’m sorry”, i.e. that the English “I’m sorry” is used for a range of situations, and that actually both Mi scusi and Mi dispiace can be translated as “I’m sorry”. Now that I’ve made that statement however, I feel that I need to provide an explanation in any case (for anyone else who might happen to read this discussion).

Here are a few examples I can think of to demonstrate where I might use “I’m sorry”, ranging from where it is just used for politeness through to deep sorrow -

  • Accidentally blocking someone’s way (e.g. where someone is trying to look at a timetable and you’re stood in front of it). Often both people will say sorry together, for example if you’re both trying to go into a narrow doorway at the same time.
  • Asking directions from a stranger - “I’m sorry but could you tell me the way to the railway station”.
  • Interrupting work colleagues in a discussion - “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just want to let you know that the boss is coming to talk to us in 5 minutes”
  • Commiserating with someone after a mild setback - “I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t pass your exam, I hope you’re going to try again in a few months.”
  • Offering condolences upon hearing about a death - “I’m sorry to hear that your grandmother passed away” or simply “I’m sorry for your loss”

I would expect to translate the first three of these using Mi scusi (or equivalent Scusate etc.), and the latter two with Mi dispiace, because the first three are not using “I’m sorry” to express emotion, whereas the latter two of these are examples of offering some degree of sympathy/empathy.

On Tatoeba, there are 4 direct translations into Italian for the sentence “I’m sorry” -
I’m sorry. - English example sentence - Tatoeba
For the Italian translations, both Mi scusi and Mi dispiace appear.

The issue you raise is also valid in other languages, for example in French both “Excusez-moi” and “Je suis desolé” can be translated as “I’m sorry”. On my first trip to France (as an adult) many years ago, I didn’t understand this difference, and so I kept saying “Desolé” to people where I should have been saying “Excusez-moi” - for example, if I was in someone’s way in the supermarket, or if I had accidentally bumped into someone.

The range of interpretations for “Excuse me” is much smaller, although there is still a little variety (from just a polite interruption where you might use Mi scusi, through to a loud exclamation meaning “What on earth do you think you are doing?!?!?”).

However …

None of this is an excuse for the TTS saying Mi dispiace


I’m with you here. Mi dispiace is more sympathetic “I’m sorry about something”, “mi dispiace, non lo so”. “Mi scusi” indicates “Mi scusi” (or better “Permesso?”) excuse me, when trying to push by someone for instance.

Actually, I suspect that every time we notice a discrepancy between text and audio, it’s the text that has been changed, but those who have already played the sentence are still getting the old text (with the new audio).


@zzcguns Fantastic reply saying all I wanted to say but putting it so much better. A lot depends on the ?

Mille grazie davvero!