Learning how to apologize in Spanish is no mean feat, as there are multiple ways of saying you’re sorry, excusing yourself or asking for forgiveness, all of which vary depending on the context. Whether you’re asking someone to pardon a minor behavioral issue or asking for forgiveness for a larger transgression, knowing how to use an appropriate apology for the situation is important. Luckily this article will show you how!
Making Everyday Apologies
Use “perdón” to excuse yourself in minor situations. Perdón is essentially the Spanish equivalent to the English “pardon” or “excuse me.” “perdón”, pronounced “perr-donn” can be used in most minor, everyday incidents, such as accidentally bumping into someone or interrupting someone.
Alternatively, you can say “perdóname”, pronounced “perr-donn-ah-may”, to give a more direct apology.
Use “disculpa” to apologize for minor incidents. The word disculpa, which translates as “apology” or “excuse” and is pronounced as “dees-kool-pah” can be used to mean “forgive me.” It is appropriate for minor incidents in which you need to excuse yourself. It can be used in the same situations as perdón.
When making an informal apology you would say “tú disculpa;” but when making a formal apology you would say “usted disculpe.” When you say “tú disculpa” or “usted disculpe”, you are literally saying “you forgive me”.
As a result, “tú disculpa” and “usted disculpe” are listener-oriented apologies, because they make the listener the subject of the sentence. This structure, which is common in Spanish, places the emphasis on the listener’s ability to forgive you rather than on your own feelings of regret.
Alternatively, you can just say “‘discúlpame”, pronounced
“dees-kool-pah-meh”, which simply means “forgive me” or “excuse me”.
Making Serious Apologies
Use “lo siento” to express remorse or ask for forgiveness. Lo siento, which literally means “I feel it,” is the phrase that most novice Spanish speakers will learn as the all-purpose apology. In reality, lo siento should be used only in fairly serious situations, where depth of emotion is important. Saying “lo siento” after accidentally bumping into someone, for example, is a bit too excessive.
You can also say “lo siento mucho” or “lo siento muchísimo,” meaning “I’m so sorry” or “I’m very sorry.” Another variation with the same meaning is “cuánto lo siento.” ( how sorry I am)
This apology is appropriate for serious situations such as the death of a loved one, a break-up, or a firing or layoff.
Lo siento is pronounced as “loh syenn-toh”.
Say “lo lamento” to express deep regret. Lo lamento literally means “I regret it.” It can be used in place of lo siento to express remorse in more serious situations.
To say “I’m terribly sorry”, you can use the phrase “lo lamento mucho”, pronounced “loh lah-menn-toh moo-cho”.
Using Apologetic Phrases
Say “I’m sorry about what happened”. To say this, use the phrase “siento lo ocurrido,” which is pronounced as “syenn-toh loh oh-coo-ree-doh”.
Say “a thousand apologies”. To say this, use the phrase “mil disculpas”, which is pronounced “meel dees-kool-pahs”.
Say “I owe you an apology”. To say this, use the phrase “te debo una disculpa”, which is pronounced as “tay day-boh oo-nah dees-kool-pah”.
Say “please accept my apology”. To say this, use the phrase “le ruego me disculpe”, which is pronounced as “lay rway-go may dees-kool-pay”.
Say “I’m sorry for the things I’ve said”. To say this, use the sentence “Pido perdón por las cosas que he dicho”, which is pronounced as “Pee-doh perr-donn por las koh-sas kay ay dee-cho”.
Say “I was wrong” or “it’s my fault”. To say “I was wrong”, use the phrase”me equivoqué”, pronounced “may eh-kee-boh-kay”. To say “it’s my fault” use the phrase “es culpa mía”, pronounced “ess kool-pah me-ah”.
Give a personalized apology. Try using the Spanish apologies above combined with other vocabulary to construct an apology specific to your situation.
At a burial ceremony when expressing condolences, see how others do it; you can shake hands with the men, not being energetic and lowering the head a bit, with women you can give them a light “A” hug plus a very light, single or double touch cheek to cheek. In both situations add in a subdued voice “lo siento mucho”.
Take care to curate your facial expression and tone of voice to match the severity of your apology. As a non-native speaker, it can be difficult to focus on anything other than vocabulary and grammar, but note that the non-verbal aspect of your apology is generally used to indicate your sincerity.
When among native Spanish speakers, take note of the way they apologize in various situations. Using these social cues will build your confidence in choosing an appropriate apology.
If you need to write a condolence note, do some research and find specific vocabulary for use in a written note.
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