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In your travels through Spain, you want to make new friends and have interesting experiences. One of the major reasons people study Spanish is to make it easier to communicate with Spanish-speaking people.
While travelers to a new area don’t want to offend anyone, you might inevitably find yourself in a situation where you need to apologize for something. That is why it is important to learn the different ways to say “sorry” in Spanish.
It’s only polite to know how to apologize in Spanish. You might find yourself having to say “sorry” in Spanish for bumping into someone in the streets. You might also find yourself having to say “sorry” for disturbing someone or “sorry” because you want to get their attention. It’s only polite after all.
If you don’t know how to say “sorry” in Spanish, you might end up making a minor offense bigger. At the very least, you might leave a negative impression as a “rude” foreigner, which might affect your ability to make friends and form business relationships.
To avoid having to be “sorry” because you didn’t apologize properly, you should study and memorize these different ways to say “sorry” in Spanish. We’ve also included a pronunciation guide as well as some tips as to when you should use these words and phrases.
Pronunciation guide: loh syehn-toh
If you use a translation app and ask it how to say “sorry” in Spanish, the most likely answer you will get is this phrase. This phrase is the equivalent to the English phrase “I’m sorry” which is the most common way to issue an apology if you think or you believe you have given offense or harmed someone.
You can also use “lo siento” if you want to express your condolences. So, if you have a Spanish colleague whose father has passed on, you can use this phrase to tell them that you are sorry for their loss.
Pronunciation guide: loh syehn-toh moo-cho/moo-chis-moh
If you feel that “sorry” isn’t enough, you can say these phrases, which basically translate to “I’m really sorry” or “I’m terribly sorry”.
Pronunciation guide: pehr-dohn
This is a noun for “forgiveness” or the act of forgiving someone. It is also commonly used as the way to say “excuse me” or “pardon me” or “I’m sorry”. It is a common word used to make apologies, but it’s only for minor instances.
So, if you want to say “sorry, excuse me” because you want someone to get out of your way or “I’m sorry” if you stepped on their foot, just say “Perdón”. You can or cannot explain what you are saying sorry for.
You can also use this if you want to get someone’s attention. For example, if you need to call a salesperson’s attention, say this first.
Pronunciation guide: pehr-donah
This is considered an informal but polite way to either apologize or call someone’s attention. It’s usually used if you want to ask a service person or a stranger something. So, you call their attention with “perdona”, then you make your request.
For example, if you want to ask what the time is, say “Perdona ¿tienes hora?”
Pronunciation guide: pehr-dohne
This is considered the formal version of “perdona”. So, you use this, for example in a formal situation.
For example, if you have been invited to have dinner at a friend’s family’s house and you want to make a good impression and you want someone to pass the salt, it should be “Perdone, ¿me puede pasar la sal?”
Pronunciation guide: pehr-doh-nah-meh
This Spanish word translates to the English phrase “forgive me”. You use it to ask for someone’s forgiveness or if you want to apologize. While it might sound like the last few words we talked about, it is not, however, used to say “excuse me”.
Pronunciation guide: dees-kool-pah
This Spanish word is a noun that translates to “apology” or “excuse”. It can also be used as an informal way to say “sorry” in Spanish.
So, you can say “disculpa” for a minor offense, such as bumping into someone BUT keep in mind that it is considered a bit informal. So, if you want to apologize for bumping into an elderly person or your boss, use “pardona” instead.
You can also use it when calling the attention of a stranger. For example, if someone dropped their car keys, call their attention like this “Disculpa, se te han caído las llaves.”
Pronunciation guide: dees-kool-pah-meh
This Spanish word translates to the English phrase “forgive me”, it is an informal way to say “sorry” in Spanish. You can use it in exactly the same way that you would use “disculpa”.
Pronunciation gude: dees-kool-ph
This Spanish word is considered a formal way to say “I’m sorry” in Spanish. It is the formal version of “disculpe” so it can be used in exactly the same way, the difference is in who you are addressing. So, if you are in a formal or business setting, this is what you should use.
Also, if you are apologizing to your boss or someone who is older or of higher social standing than you, it is more appropriate to use “disculpe” to say that you are “sorry”.
Pronunciation guide: sehn-toh
Another way that you can say “sorry” in Spanish is to say “siento”. You should start your sentence with “siento” and then add what it is you are sorry for afterward. Don’t just say “siento” that will sound odd.
Pronunciation guide: loh lah-mehn-toh
This phrase translates to “I’m very sorry” in English. It is not very commonly used, but it is considered a phrase that is appropriate when offering your condolences upon hearing that someone has suffered a death in the family or of a loved one.
Pronunciation guide: meh mahs sehn-tee-doh peh-sah-meh
This is another Spanish phrase that you can use if you want to tell someone that you are “sorry for your loss”. It translates to “my deepest sympathies”. This way to say “sorry” in Spanish is really only used if you are looking to condole with someone.
Pronunciation guide: ah-rreh-pehn-teer-she
This is a verb that means “to feel remorse” or “to be sorry”. You can also use it to say that you are sorry or you regret doing something. Use this word to start a sentence with “I regret” then add the action or the reason you are “sorry” for or about.
Pronunciation guide: kohm-pah-deh-sehr
This is another Spanish verb that means “to feel sad for” or “to pity”. In other words, when you say this, you are emphasizing with someone in a bad situation or feeling “sorry for” them.
It’s commonly used as a phrase to say sorry to say that you sympathize:
Te compadezco – I sympathize/feel sorry for you (informal)
Lo compadezco – I sympathize/feel sorry for you (formal)
No matter what language you are studying, you will probably be advised to learn the ways to say “sorry” in that language.
Spanish is no exception. Almost any list of common Spanish words to learn will contain at least one if not several of these different ways to say sorry that we’ve discussed here.
To help ensure that you learn how to properly apologize in Spanish, we’ve included this downloadable PDF of the words and phrases that we discussed here. We recommend that you take this list with you and study it at your leisure.
We also recommend that you take this list and discuss it with a native Spanish-speaking online tutor. Your tutor can help better explain the different nuances of meaning behind these words for “sorry” in Spanish. They can also correct your pronunciation in real-time and give you tips on your accent.
Make sure to take the time to study these different ways to say “sorry” in Spanish. We guarantee that you won’t feel sorry that you did.
1. Lo siento 2. Lo siento mucho/lo siento muchísimo 3. Perdón 4. Perdona 5. Perdone 6. Perdóname 7. Disculpa 8. Discúlpame 9. Disculpe 10. Siento
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