Do you know all the apologies in Spanish? You should! During your trip through Hispanic countries, you may experience certain situations where you will be required to apologize.
Imagine you visit a beautiful Catholic Church and decide to take pictures. You don't realize that a small baptismal mass is taking place, much less do you notice your camera flash. Someone approaches you to ask you not to take pictures during the mass, and with great shame, you cannot express in Spanish how sorry you are.
In cases like these, knowing a few essential words in the language of the country you are visiting can save you from many uncomfortable situations. It's hard enough for people to apologize. More if you have made a mistake in a foreign country.
It has happened to me several times, and just by remembering it, I feel the embarrassment come to me once again! But I must also admit that I feel much better when I accept my mistakes and apologize. I can certainly make the other person feel good as well.
When I travel, I always make sure I know how to say hello, please, thank you, and sorry.
If you are ready to learn how to apologize in Spanish, here's what we will cover in today's post:
An apology is a necessary action that allows us to express when we are sorry for the negative situation we have caused someone else and restore dignity to those we hurt.
Although our actions may not have been on purpose, it is necessary to be aware of what happened and the effects of our actions.
Now, apologizing can become a bit more tricky in the Spanish language. We have many terms for apologizing that can have different connotations depending on the situation. Therefore, you must know each of them and become familiar with the contexts.
In a nutshell, the first phrases you should understand are the following:
Ask for forgiveness:
To say sorry, to apologize, or to forgive:
But there's more! Keep reading.
Start apologizing to people in their native language so that you can win their hearts quicker. After learning these Spanish words and phrases, you will start sounding like a native speaker in no time.
Let's go through the following phrases and their meanings:
Note: This lesson will cover both the formal and informal ways of saying sorry, the meaning of each term and some examples of when to use these terms.
From the verb: Perdonar (To forgive)
When visiting a Spanish-speaking country or having Spanish-speaking friends, you will often hear the verb 'perdonar' being used to apologize. It is our most used way to express how sorry we are.
In my personal opinion, every time I need to apologize to someone, I always choose to say 'Perdóname' or any of its related terms such as 'me perdonas?' (can you forgive me?), because it is easier for me to say this phrase.
It sounds sincere and expresses everything that I wish to convey to the other person.
Perdóname - Informal (I'm sorry)
'Perdóname' has the same meaning, but it is used only in informal situations, with your friends, family, or anyone you are close with.
Another important fact for you to know is that there are some countries where people don't use formal terms, so it would depend on where you are.
Perdone - Formal (Forgive me)
You can use this interchangeably with 'perdóneme' as they are both formal ways to apologize to your superiors, elderly people, or someone you don't know well.
Perdona - Neutral (Forgive me)
This variant can also be used with close people. Although, some people do say 'perdona' to strangers because it is not informal nor formal. It is more like a neutral term that sounds polite enough to use with strangers.
Perdón - Neutral (Forgiveness)
This noun can be used in any context. You can say 'perdón' when you make a mistake, and you can say it also if someone has blocked your way and you need space to pass.
Perdón por - Neutral (I’m sorry for)
Whenever you need to explain your mistake, you can say 'perdón por…' and add your explanation. This way, the other person will understand why you are apologizing.
Verb:Sentir (To feel)
Another widely used form of apologizing in Spanish is 'Lo siento.' It is preferred by many people not only because it can be said in formal and informal situations but also because it allows the person to express the remorse they have been feeling for their actions.
If the person saying 'lo siento' isn't the culprit, it might be that they feel bad for something that they witnessed. So, they want to convey that they know what the other person is going through.
The literal translation of 'lo siento' is 'I feel it.' You feel emotions about the situation, your actions and their effects on someone else.
As a native speaker, I feel like people who can easily ask for forgiveness choose to say 'lo siento' instead of 'perdón,' since it connotes more feelings. So, people who can't express feelings may not use this form unless they say it to someone familiar.
Lo siento (I'm sorry. The literal translation is: 'I feel it.')
'De verdad' (really) can be used to reassure that you indeed feel sorry and will not stop until you are forgiven.
Lo siento mucho por lo que has estado pasando. (I'm so sorry for what you have been going through.)
You can also say 'muchísimo' (very much), which helps you emphasize how much you are sorry.
If you want to explain why you are saying sorry, add your reason after saying 'siento.' For example:
Here you are saying that you feel bad for having the person waiting for so long before your date.
Verb: Disculpar (To forgive, to excuse)
'Discúlpeme' is commonly used to say 'excuse me.' But it is also a form to apologize for committing a mistake.
An excellent example of when I would use this term is if, for example, my professor asks me to pass him a pen, but when giving it to him, it falls to the floor. I will quickly say 'uy, discúlpeme.' I would proceed to pick it up and ensure that the pen does reach his hand this time.
Discúlpeme, pero no puedo responder a su pregunta. (Excuse me, but I cannot answer your question.)
Let's learn two essential terms related to this word.
As with the other formal phrases that we have previously discussed, you should only use 'disculpe' when talking with elder people, superiors such as your boss, or people you don't know.
Some countries have the tradition of speaking formally with their parents and grandparents. So you may listen to people using this form in a familiar context. If you get confused by this, my only advice is to go along with what natives do.
In that sentence, I wrote 'podría' (could you – formal) and not 'podrías' (could you – informal).
Verb: Lamentar (To regret)
Saying 'lo lamento' allows you to express your deep regret. In addition, many people usually use this term together with 'discúlpeme.'
Lamento que…- Neutral (I'm sorry that…)
Congratulations! Knowing how to apologize in Spanish is a big step in your Spanish learning. And now you know all the apologies in Spanish to use in different situations. Which one will you use? That would depend on your feelings and preference!
You will often use at least one of these phrases while traveling abroad or talking with Spanish speakers.
Many people will agree that apologizing can be difficult in any language. But being able to say sorry to someone in their native tongue can make things so much easier between you two!
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