Knowing different ways to say sorry in Spanish not only can help you be more polite with other people, but also will allow you to express your feelings. Given that learners want to improve their vocabulary, many people wonder if there are other expressions that they can use to say sorry in Spanish.
In Spanish, there are different words that people use to say sorry. Some of the most common expressions include:
- Lo siento – I’m sorry
- Perdón – Sorry / Excuse me
- Una disculpa – My apologies
- Pedir perdón / pedir disculpas – To be sorry for
- Disculpar – To forgive / To apologize / To say sorry for
Saying sorry or asking for forgiveness in Spanish can be very useful. So, I’ve compiled a list of 5 common ways to apologize to someone in Spanish. As you may have noticed, there are different words or expressions that you can use for this purpose.
However, in order to use these options correctly, there are some characteristics that you need to keep in mind. Below you’ll find some small descriptions and examples that will help you determine when and how to use this vocabulary.
By the end of this, you’ll be able to apologize or say sorry in Spanish like a native speaker!
1. Lo siento – I’m sorry
As you may already know, lo siento is the direct translation of I’m sorry. Therefore, we can use this expression to say ‘sorry’ in Spanish. Something that you need to keep in mind is that, in some contexts, ‘lo siento’ is also used to express sadness or sorrow for a certain situation.
Lo lamento is a slightly more formal variation of ‘lo siento’. Since they’re practically synonyms, choosing one over the other is a personal preference. For example, I personally prefer to use lo lamento to apologize in very formal situations or to express sorrow.
‘Lo siento’ in Spanish can be used when people are expressing that they’re upset with you. In other words, if the context is clear enough, lo siento works as a response to a complaint. Check this example:
|Tú: Oye, llevo esperándote media hora.||You: Hey, I’ve been waiting for you for 30 minutes.|
|Yo: Lo siento, Amy, no va a volver a pasar.||Me: I’m sorry, Amy, it won’t happen again.|
If instead you want to apologize for something you did, you need to use the following structure. Notice that:
- You can use either lamentar or sentir to apologize.
- You can use present perfect or an infinitive verb to indicate the thing that you are apologizing for.
- In this case, haber remains in its infinitive form.
[Sentir/Lamentar conjugated] + [present perfect/infinitive verb]
Amy, siento haberte hecho esperar
Amy, I’m sorry for making you wait
Siento haberles gritado, nenas
I’m sorry that I yelled at you, baby girls
Señorita, lamentamos decirle que su cuenta no fue aprobada
Miss, we’re sorry to inform you that your account wasn’t approved
2. Perdón – Sorry / Excuse me
Perdón is another common way to say sorry in Spanish. One of the advantages of this word is that you can use it in both formal and informal situations. Perdón has different uses in Spanish. So, depending on the situation, this word can be translated as:
- Excuse me
- Pardon me
Just like the English translations, perdón can be used to ask for forgiveness, as a polite way to get people’s attention or to interrupt them, or to ask people to move because you are going to pass. As you may imagine, the meaning or use of this word depends on the context where it’s being applied.
Perdón, ¿en qué pasillo está la leche?
Pardon me, in which aisle can I find milk?
Laura, perdón, pero no estoy de acuerdo
Sorry, Laura, but I don’t agree with you
Just like with other expressions, if you want to use perdón to apologize for something, the contexts need to be very clear. To put it simply, you want people to know what you are saying sorry for. In order to do this, you can use nouns or verbs.
Here is a phrase structure that you can use:
Perdón + [complement]
Lizzy, perdón, se me olvidaron tus cosas
Lizzy, I’m sorry, I forgot your things
Oye, perdón por lo de tu celular
Hey, I’m sorry about your phone
Kelly, perdón por romper tu celular, te pago la reparación
Kelly, I’m sorry for breaking your phone, I’ll pay for the repair
3. Una disculpa – My apologies
A more formal way to say sorry in Spanish is by using the expression una disculpa. Since this expression is too formal, you may not want to use it among your friends or family. In fact, this phrase is perfect for formal environments such as school, news, and business meetings.
There are some popular variatiations that you could use instead of una disculpa:
- Mis más sinceras disculpas – My sincere apologies. (It’s very formal)
- Mil disculpas – My apologies / a thousand apologies.
- Mis disculpas – My apologies.
Unlike other expressions from this list, una disculpa and its variations are only used to say apologize for something. Depending on how clear the context is, you can use these expressions as a response to someone’s complaint or you could explain what you’re apologizing for.
[Expression] + [verb conjugated/por] + [complement]
Mis más sinceras disculpas por la espera
My sincere apologies for the wait
Una disculpa, de verdad no quería lastimar tus sentimientos
My apologies, I honestly didn’t want to hurt your feelings
Mil disculpas, señorita, estamos cortos de personal
A thousand apologies, miss, we’re short on staff
Take Note: You can make una disculpa a little bit more formal by using the verb ofrecer (to offer) or pedir (to ask). Notice that no matter what verb you use, this expression is translated as ‘I apologize’ or ‘I offer you an apology’.
[IOP] + [ofrecer conjugated] + una disculpa + por + [complement]
Tanya, te ofrezco una disculpa por lo que dije
Tanya, I apologize for what I said
Señora, le ofrecemos una disculpa por el inconveniente
Madam, we offer you an apology for the inconvenience
**FYI: In this phrase structure, IOP means Indirect Object Pronoun.
4. Pedir perdón por – To be sorry for
Pedir perdón or pedir disculpas are very common expressions that people use to ask for forgiveness in Spanish. Both options can be used in formal and informal conversations. However, in Mexico, pedir perdón is slightly more informal than ‘pedir disculpas’.
- Pedir perdón por = To be sorry for
- Pedir disculpas por = To apologize for
In these phrases, the presence of the preposition por forces you to mention or explain what you’re saying sorry for. Check these examples:
[IOP] + [pedir conjugated] + perdón/disculpas + por + [complement]
Brian, te pido perdón por haberte dicho eso
Brian, I’m sorry for telling you that
Señora, le pido disculpas por las molestias
Madam, I apologize for the troubles
Amigas, les pido perdón por no haberlas invitado a mi fiesta
Girls, I’m sorry that I didn’t invite you to my party
There are some small tweaks that Spanish speakers make to this structure to make it sound more casual and personal. Check the examples below:
[IOP] + [querer conjugated] + pedir perdón/disculpas + por + [complement]
Sussy, quiero pedirte disculpas por enojarme contigo
Sussy, I want to apologize for getting angry at you
Oigan, les quiero pedir perdón por mi actitud
Hey, I want to apologize with you for my attitude
Take Note: When a Spanish sentence has two verbs (like the previous examples), you have more flexibility regarding where you can place the object pronouns. You can place it in front of the conjugated verb or attached to the second verb.
5. Disculpar – To forgive / To apologize
In Spanish, disculpar is a basic verb that you use to apologize to someone. This verb is always related to apologies and forgiveness, but it can be used with different purposes:
- Get people’s attention – (Excuse me)
- Forgive someone – (To forgive)
- Say sorry or apologize – (To apologize / To be sorry)
Disculpa, ¿dónde están los baños?
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?
Cindy, disculpar a tus hermanos
Cindy, forgive your brothers
As you may imagine, the uses of this verb are determined by elements that you use and the context. When using this verb to ask for forgiveness in Spanish, disculpar needs to work with direct object pronouns.
Check this examples:
[Disculpar conjugated] + [direct object pronoun] + [complement]
Amiga, discúlpame, no te escuche, ¿qué dijiste?
I’m sorry, I didn’t listen to you, what did you say?
Discúlpeme, señora, creí que esta bolsa era mía
I’m sorry, ma’am, I thought this was my bag
Claire, ¿me disculpas por haberte gritado?
Claire, can you forgive me for yelling at you?
Learning how to say sorry or ask for forgiveness in Spanish can be very useful for your conversations. For that reason, in this article, we learned 5 expressions and words that you can use to apologize to people.
All of these expressions are very popular in Spanish, most of them can be used in both formal and informal situations. But before choosing one, make sure you know what’s the best option for that particular situation.
Hopefully, now you know how to say sorry in Spanish without repeating yourself all the time!