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I was wondering if there is a culturally appropriate way to say "my bad" in German as in:

My bad! I should've ...

Google translates it as "meine schlechte", but I don't know how trustworthy that is.

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    @RHa I find "How about a dictionary?" a bit too passive-aggressive. Also, I don't think we should be referring people to dictionaries for idiomatic expressions such as this. The appropriate translation can vary a lot, depending on how literal you want to be.
    – David Vogt
    Oct 31, 2021 at 18:20
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    @David Vogt Well, I think I could have provided three dictionariy links all of which give a translation of "my bad" but I think that would have come across a bit snarky either.
    – RHa
    Oct 31, 2021 at 20:26
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    @RHa - One such link is Wiktionary which does provide the translation mein Fehler. I think the main problem is the expectation that slang, idioms, and other figures of speech can be directly translated from one language to another; that's rarely the case. I brought this up in my answer to a similar question a few days ago.
    – RDBury
    Oct 31, 2021 at 21:28
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    Not a German speaker but "My bad," is a tremendously American phrase. For example, it is not used by English people, so using it in Britain makes Americans stand out like sore thumbs. I expect that using it in Germany would have a similar effect. Language is culture and culture is language; literal translations rarely work as intended. Nov 1, 2021 at 10:01
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    @RHa You don't realise how damaging comments like this can be. For example, when I was first learning computer programming as a child, I asked a simple question on a forum and someone responded "Why don't you just learn Java?" I have not touched Java for years. Please think before you mount your keyboard warrior steed. Help kindly, or go away. Nov 1, 2021 at 10:09

2 Answers 2

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The appropriate translation depends on the context. A literal translation would be:

Mein Fehler.
Meine Schuld.
Mea culpa.

If the phrase is used to acknowledge responsibility:

Das geht auf meine Kappe.

If the phrase is used as an apology:

Entschuldigung.
Tut mir leid.
Sorry.

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    Das geht auf meine Kappe is colloquial and should not be used in a formal setting. Nov 6, 2021 at 11:51
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Given the different kinds of sorry, I've learned "es tut mir leid" as a sympathetic sort of sorry to mean essentially "my condolences" or expressing genuine regret or sorrow - most direct translation I've heard that helped me understand this is "it does me pain / it does me sorrow", whereas a quick "entschuldigung" is warranted when trying to get someone's attention in a casual setting or what you say when you've accidentally bumped into someone.

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