#1 Incredible Guide On How To Apologize In Portuguese

Apologize In Portuguese-ling app-people hugging

Learning how to apologize in Portuguese is an important skill to have if you plan on traveling to a Portuguese-speaking country or if you have Portuguese-speaking friends or colleagues. Even if you don’t plan on doing something wrong (nobody plans on it), there is a chance that you eventually bump into someone, scare someone, or unintentionally do something that you may have to apologize for. Furthermore, these words are also used in Portugal to call for someone’s attention, as if you were apologizing for interrupting whatever they were doing, so even if you’re 100% in the right, you’ll probably end up using them.

As you can see, it is most likely that during your trip, you’re going to need to use them at a certain point. Thus, in this guide, we’ll go over the most common ways to apologize in the Portuguese language and provide some helpful tips and cultural insights to help you navigate this important social skill.

Apologize In Portuguese

How To Apologize In Portuguese

Before we dive into the specific phrases and expressions used to apologize in Portuguese, it’s important to understand the cultural context of apologizing in Portuguese-speaking countries. 

In Portugal, apologizing is a very important act, especially if you’ve caused harm or inconvenience to someone else, and to do so in a sincere and authentic manner.

Contrarily to other cultures, in Portugal, apologizing should be done in a reserved and formal way, meaning that you have to show that you’re sorry even when you’re saying the actual words. Your body language must show the same what you’re transmitting through your words. Grand gestures and emotional reactions are not seen as sincere and honest ways to show remorse.

How To Say I’m Sorry In Portuguese

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to say you’re sorry in Portuguese:

  1. “Desculpe” – This is the most basic and common way to apologize in Portuguese, and it’s similar to saying “sorry” in English. You can use it in a variety of situations, from accidentally bumping into someone on the street to making a mistake at work.
  2. “Peço desculpa” – This phrase is a little more formal and means “I apologize.” It’s often used in more serious or formal situations, such as when you need to apologize to a superior or to someone you don’t know very well. It is also used to call for someone’s attention before, for example, asking for directions.
  3. “Lamento muito” – This phrase means “I am very sorry” and is often used in more formal or serious situations to express deep remorse or regret. Along with the expression “Sinto muito” (“I feel sorry” in English), it is also used to express grief or condolences to someone.
  4. “Perdão” – This word means “forgiveness” and is often used in a more formal or religious context. For example, you might say “Perdão, Senhor” to a religious figure or authority figure to ask for forgiveness.
  5. “Desculpe-me” – This phrase means “excuse me” and is used to apologize for interrupting someone or for causing an inconvenience. It’s similar to saying “sorry to bother you” in English.
  6. “Foi sem querer” – This phrase means “it was not on purpose” and normally comes after one of the previous phrases as an addition to the apology. It is used to show that your actions were really unintentional, or that you did something without even realizing it.
Apologize In Portuguese - no eye Contact

How To Make Your Apology Sincere

In addition to these phrases, there are a few other things you can do to make your apology more sincere and effective in Portuguese-speaking cultures. Here are a few tips:

  • Make eye contact – In many Portuguese-speaking cultures, making eye contact is an important way to show that you are sincere and genuine. When you apologize, be sure to look the person in the eye to show that you are truly sorry.
  • Use body language – Like we talked about before, using body language can be a way to show that you’re sincerely sorry, however, don’t exaggerate or be flamboyant. 
  • Offer a solution – If possible, it’s a good idea to offer a solution or a way to make up for the harm or inconvenience you have caused. This can show that you are not just saying “sorry” to get out of trouble, but that you are truly committed to making things right. 
  • Avoid escaping the blame and pointing it somewhere else – When apologizing in Portuguese, it’s important to avoid making excuses or shifting blame. This can make your apology seem insincere or like you are trying to avoid responsibility. Instead, take responsibility for your actions and focus on expressing remorse and a desire to make things right.
  • Don’t overdo it – Once again, it is not enough to stress how Portuguese people are shy and timid. If you want to show you’re sorry in Portuguese, avoid making a grand, emotional gesture or excessively expressing remorse. 
Apologize In Portuguese - hugging

How To Answer To Sorry In Portuguese

What if you’re on the receiving end of an apology? What should you answer? Well, first of all, let’s assume that the other person did not make a mistake with intent. They want to express regret, and you want to reassure them that it is ok and their apologies are accepted. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • “Não faz mal/Não foi nada” – These two options are the most used both in European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, and they simply mean “It’s ok”.
  • “Tudo bem” – This phrase means “Everything is ok” and you can use it on any occasion as well.
  • “Sem problema” – This phrase means “without a problem” and is a more informal way to reply to an apology in portuguese. You can use it with your close friends or family.

Apologies Are Avoided, Not Said

This is a very well-known Portuguese saying that simply means that you should avoid doing stuff wrong than always saying sorry. This is usually true when your apology is not sincere and honest or when someone shoots sorries just to get out of tough situations.

I’m pretty sure that is not your case, and that if you end up in Portugal saying sorry, it is because you did something wrong unintentionally. Nevertheless, learning these words can be very helpful when you’re in the crowds of people in downtown Lisbon, and it is inevitable that you bump into someone. Even more, if you want to ask for directions, saying “Peço desculpa” before you start the conversation will guarantee that the local people will be thrilled to help you!

Whether you’re traveling to a Portuguese-speaking country or interacting with Portuguese-speaking colleagues or friends, taking the time to learn how to say sorry in Portuguese can go a long way towards building strong, positive relationships and fostering mutual understanding and respect.

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Users can set personalized learning goals and track their progress as they work their way through the lessons. If you’re interested in learning Portuguese or another language, give Ling a try. With its comprehensive curriculum and interactive features, it’s a great tool for anyone looking to improve their language skills. Download the app today and start your language-learning journey!

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