Maafkan saya kerana datang lambat.
Maafkan saya, saya sudah lupa.
Maafkan saya, tuan. Apa nama jalan ini?
Itu bukan sengaja. Maafkan saya.
Please excuse me for coming late.
Please excuse me, I have forgotten.
Excuse me, sir. What is the name of this road?
That was not done on purpose. Please excuse me.
kerana = because
lambat = late
lupa = to forget
tuan = sir
jalan = road
sengaja = purposely
The standard reply to sentences one and two is: Tak apalah. (It doesn't matter.)
This is one sentence you have to use each time you don't understand something to avoid misunderstanding: Maafkan saya. Saya tidak faham. (= Excuse me. I do not understand).
Please note that there are three syllables in the word Maafkan (ma-af-kan).
To tell someone that you feel sorry for another person's plight you can say Saya kasihan sama dia (= I feel sorry for him/her).
To say that you regret having done something you can say Saya menyesal perbuatan itu.
(menyesal comes from sesal meaning "to regret")
To excuse oneself for something unimportant you can say Jangan marah ya? (Please don't be angry) and to put it in an even lighter vein (this often works with a woman), you can say Jangan marah ya, nanti lekas tua! (Please don't get angry or you will become old very soon!) There, you have another example of the word nanti not in the sense of "waiting" but to indicate some forthcoming action or event.
If you should trip someone up, or just as bad, step on his toes make sure you say Maafkan saya or Minta maaf. Malaysians are a friendly and forgiving race and such an apology will always be accepted with good grace (provided you don't repeat the accident the minute after, in which case I can't guarantee you that they will be as forgiving as I said they are!)
Either of these two expressions or just Maaf alone is also used when interrupting someone or being obliged to make one's way between two people holding a conversation. (But in such a situation an Indonesian would say Permisi). Translate this into English as the equivalent of "With your permission" and you would have no problem remembering to use it when the occasion arises.
When you are unable to accept an invitation you can say Maafkan saya tetapi saya tidak dapat datang pada hari itu. (Please excuse me but I will not be able to come on that day).
Note how the verb dapat which usually means "to get" or "to obtain" is used here. When followed by another verb (as in this sentence) it has the sense of being able (Saya dapat) or not being able (Saya tidak dapat) to do the action that comes after. When used in this way it can always be replaced by boleh. Thus instead of saying Maafkan saya tetapi saya tidak dapat datang pada hari itu you can say Maafkan saya tetapi saya tidak boleh datang pada hari itu.
The word Tolong! usually means "Help!" (try shouting this out when you are drowning!) but when it precedes another verb (as in the final sentence in the table) it can be translated as "Please". (Tolong maafkan saya = Please excuse me.)