Expressing regret in French

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Expressing regret

Apart from sobbing deeply into your handkerchief, there are many ways of expressing regret.

•  The verb regretter (to regret) is the simplest and most common:
Je regrette de ne pas avoir invité Victor. I regret not having invited Victor.
Nous regrettons ce qui vous est arrivé. We regret what happened to you.
Juliette a beaucoup regretté que Victor ne soit pas venu. Juliette greatly regretted that Victor did not come.
•  The expression s’en vouloir (‘to feel bad’, ‘to feel guilty’, ‘to blame oneself’) has a similar meaning to regretter:
- Tu t’en veux d’avoir menti à Victor ? -Do you feel bad for having lied to Victor?
- Non, je ne m’en veux pas du tout. -No, I don’t feel bad at all.
•  We can also use the conditionnel passé, the past conditional form:
J’aurais dû inviter Victor ! I should have invited Victor!
J’aurais aimé inviter Victor ! I would like to have invited Victor!
J’aurais mieux fait d’inviter Victor ! I would have been better off inviting Victor!
•  We can also use si + conditional constructions:
Si c’était à refaire, je ne le ferais pas. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it.
Si j’avais su, j’aurais invité Victor. If I had known, I would have invited Victor.
•  We can also use the expression Quel dommage ! (What a shame!), or Quel dommage + DE + infinitive or Quel dommage + QUE + subjunctive.
Victor ne peut pas venir ? Quel dommage ! Victor can’t come? What a shame!
Quel dommage d’avoir oublié d’inviter Victor. Too bad for forgetting to have invited Victor.
Quel dommage que Victor ne soit pas venu ! Isn’t it sad that Victor didn’t come!

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