As with English there are a number of different ways to say sorry
or “excuse me”
in Spanish. Today we’re going to take a quick look at a few different options so we can select the appropriate phrase depending on the situation. Lo siento
“Lo siento” is probably the most common example of “I’m sorry” that most newcomers to Spanish will learn first. Not necessarily because it is the most commonly used, but probably because it is an excellent example of an idiomatic expression.
“Lo siento” literally translates to mean “I feel it” in a similar vein to something like “I feel your pain”. It is used like “I’m sorry” and can be made stronger with “lo siento mucho” (I’m really sorry).
These constructions use the verb sentir (to feel)
to create this kind of idiomatic expression. Look out for other forms of sentir when others are expressing forgiveness. For instance: “Lo sentimos estamos cerrados” meaning “Sorry we’re closed” but more literally “We feel it, we’re closed”.
Typically, “lo siento” isn’t used in every situation and if you were to use it too much, it would certainly sound a little insincere. It is mostly reserved for moments when you feel empathy for the other person. Perdón
“Perdón” is a noun and means pardon
It can be used as a simple interjection when you consider the situation to be your own fault. So, could be used in situations when you bump into someone by mistake for instance. Using the verb perdonar
If “perdón” is a noun meaning pardon
is the verb form meaning to forgive, to pardon
or to excuse.
Most commonly used in the imperative form as a command. We might say “¡Ay! perdóname” (Oh! forgive me) or “perdóneme” or just “perdone” if we are addressing someone with a little more respect.
“Por favor perdóname, no tenía idea” (Please forgive me, I had no idea) ¿Cómo?
“¿Cómo?” literally means ”how?”
and can be used to mean “Sorry, could you repeat that?” or just “sorry” when we are indicating that we didn’t hear or understand what was said. Using the verb disculpar
Rather like using the verb perdonar
we may also use the verb disculpar
which also means to forgive.
“Disculpe”, “Discupla” and “Discúplame” are all examples of using the command form of this verb.
When used to get someone’s attention it can function to mean “excuse me” but equally can mean “forgive me” or “sorry” as a mild apology. Con permiso
“Con permiso” means “with permission” and is the perfect expression when asking someone to move out of the way. In English, we might just say “sorry” or “excuse me” when indicating we need to get past. In this type of situation, expressions like “lo siento” are not really appropriate. Mi más sentido pésame
Hopefully an expression you won’t need to use too often. “Mi más sentido pésame” can be used to mean “My deepest sympathy” and should be used to offer condolences in very serious situations when a simple “lo siento” won’t suffice. Permítame Permítame
means “allow me”, and uses the command form of the verb permitir (to allow / to permit).
When used in constructions like “Permítame un momento” then its meaning changes to be closer to “Excuse me for a moment” or “Give me a moment”. Implying a subtle apology for keeping one waiting. Conclusion | En conclusión
In English we use the word “sorry” or even “excuse me” in a number of ways to ask for forgiveness or to indicate subtly different things. However, there are times when other words or phrases are far more appropriate. Spanish is very much the same, whereby it serves us well to have a small arsenal of expressions and phrases depending on the situation.
Whilst some expressions appear to translate into somewhat old-fashioned English using words like forgiveness.
This is only their literal meaning, in reality they are all commonly used and are indeed considered a modern mode of speech.