No one is exempt from making a mistake here and there, which makes apologizing a key piece of vocabulary to learn. There are also other reasons why you might say you’re sorry, such as when someone passes away or when you’re asking someone to move aside to let you through.
Just like there are different ways to apologize in English, there are also quite a few ways to say “sorry” in Spanish. You might already be familiar with the most common ways to say “sorry” in Spanish: “perdón” and “lo siento”. However, in this article, we’ll cover a variety of situations and useful words and phrases you can use in each of them.
We’ve all gotten things wrong now and then. The most important thing is to admit we have and try to make up for it. Below, you’ll find different ways to apologize depending on who you are apologizing to and how big the blunder was.
As we’ve mentioned, this is one of the most common ways to say “sorry” in Spanish. Perdón is very malleable and can be used in most cases where the misstep has been relatively mild (e.g., when you bump into someone in the street, when you drop something or when you interrupt someone when they’re talking).
Meanwhile, “perdóname” is a variant of “perdón”. It can be used in the same contexts but, instead of apologizing, you are asking for forgiveness. It may sound very intense in English, but isn’t in Spanish.
Just like “perdón”, “lo siento” is both common and can be used in various situations to say “sorry” in Spanish. However, “lo siento” extends to even more usages. As we’ll see later on in this article, this phrase can also be used to show you are sorry for someone’s loss. If you are feeling particularly bad about something you did (for example, accidentally breaking a treasured belonging), you can also use “lo siento mucho” (I’m very sorry).
This is a lighter version of “perdón”. The version with “Te” is informal, while the one with “Le” is formal.
This is a more intense version of the previous phrase and literally translates to “I apologize from the heart”, meaning you truly mean this apology.
Much like in English, this Spanish expression conveys that you are in the wrong while not really apologizing. Just like with “Te/Le pido disculpas”, the version with “Te” is informal, while the one with “Le” is formal.
This is the phrase to use when your blunder is major and/or you are truly upset about what happened.
We sometimes say “sorry” in contexts where we haven’t necessarily done something wrong. Here are a couple of examples of this in Spanish.
You can also use “perdón” (or “perdona”) in a similar way to “excuse me” when you want to get someone’s attention to ask a question, when you want to interrupt someone, or are trying to get around someone to reach a product at the supermarket.
These work the same way as “perdón” and “perdona”, but are a bit more formal. As you may know, Spanish has different forms to say “you” depending on the level of formality. Moreover, you can see who someone is referring to from the verb conjugation. In this case, “disculpa” is for “tu” (informal, but still more formal than “perdón”) and “disculpe” for “vos” (formal).
This phrase literally translates into “with permission” and is used just like “excuse me” in English. You can use it when you want to squeeze through a crowded space, for example.
You may also say sorry to someone not because of something you did, but because of something negative that has happened to them. Here are a few ways in which you can do this.
As we’ve mentioned above, “lo siento” can also be used as a way to show support when someone’s suffered a loss. They might’ve had a death in the family, be in the middle of a divorce or had a break-in.
This phrase works just like “lo siento” in this particular context.
You can use “lo siento mucho/tanto” when you are feeling particularly bad about something that happened to someone (e.g.: when they suffered a loss, failed an exam or lost their job). This is a more heartfelt way to say you’re sorry.
If what happened is even more devastating, you can use one of these two phrases that express how badly you feel about the situation the other person is facing.
We’d like to think you won’t be the only one apologizing, so, in addition to teaching you how to say “sorry” in Spanish, we thought it would be useful to add a section on accepting apologies. Here are some common phrases that will help you forgive someone in Spanish.
This is the most straightforward way to say you accept someone’s apology.
If you are not really bothered by what happened—maybe it was just an accident—you can use these phrases.
You might find it unusual that we thank someone for apologizing, but hear us out. First, sometimes apologizing is a big deal and deserves your appreciation. Second, this is usually the go-to when someone is saying they’re sorry for your loss. If you are curious about more ways to say “thank you” in Spanish, you can take a look at this article.
Most of the phrases we’ve seen above are pretty straightforward. However, we’ll show you some example situations to give you an idea of their real-life usage.
- Perdón, no te vi. (I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.)
- Disculpa. (I’m sorry.)
- Siento mucho lo de tu tía. (I’m very sorry about your aunt.)
- Lamento tu pérdida. (I’m sorry for your loss.)
- Perdona, ¿podrías repetir la pregunta? (I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?)
- Disculpa, ¿me pasas el agua? (Excuse me, can you pass the water?)
- Con permiso, ¿puedo pasar? (Excuse me, could I squeeze through?)
- Perdón por llegar tarde. (I’m sorry I’m late.)
- Lo siento, fue un accidente. (I’m sorry, it was an accident.)
- Te pido disculpas de corazón. No sé qué decir. (I sincerely apologize. I don’t know what to say.)
- Perdóname. No era mi intención. (I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.)
- Lo siento mucho. No volverá a pasar/ocurrir. (I’m really sorry. It won’t happen again.)
- Perdón. No debería haberlo hecho/dicho. (I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done/said that.)
We’ve covered many different ways to say “sorry” in Spanish and a few ones to accept apologies. Now, we’ll focus on some other vocabulary involved in apologies. Just like we have the verb “to apologize” in English, there are a few verbs or verb phrases that relate to this concept in Spanish. Let’s take a look at them below.
When we’ve done something wrong, apologizing is the right thing to do. “Disculparse” is the Spanish equivalent of“to apologize”. You can find a couple of examples below to see how it is used and see its complete conjugation here.
- Se disculpó por no ayudar en casa. (He/She apologized for not helping around the house.)
- Si no se disculpan por esa broma, los mandaré a la oficina del director. (If you don’t apologize for that prank, I’ll send you to the principal’s office.)
Asking for forgiveness goes a bit deeper than apologizing, as you’re acknowledging how at fault you were. Here, we use the verb phrase “pedir perdón”. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
- Me pidió perdón por engañarme. (He/She asked for forgiveness for cheating on me.)
- No te pediré perdón porque no hice nada mal. (I’m not asking for forgiveness, I did nothing wrong.)
You can take a look at the conjugation of the verb “pedir” in this article.
When someone offers you an apology, you have two options. You either forgive them or you don’t. Here are some examples:
- Está bien, te perdono. (It’s ok. I forgive you.)
- Nunca podré perdonarlos. (I’ll never be able to forgive them.)
If you are curious about the conjugation of this verb, you can find it here.
Both of these mean “to make up” but the first one (hacer las paces) is a set phrase. It literally translates to “make peace”. You can use either of them when everything works out after an apology. Here are a couple of examples:
- ¿Y si hacemos las paces? (What if we just make up?)
- Nos reconciliamos hace una semana. (We made up a week ago.)
If you want to learn more about the verb “hacer”, you can check out this article.
We all know those people who are incapable of offering an apology. They tend to justify what they did instead. Here is where “justificar” or “justificarse” come in. We’ll give you one example of each so it’s a bit clearer.
- En vez de disculparse, inventó un montón de excusas para justificar lo que hizo.
(Instead of apologizing, he/she made up a bunch of excuses to justify what he/she did.)
- Odio a la gente que intenta justificarse cuando es más fácil pedir perdón.
(I hate those people that try to justify what they did when it’s easier to just apologize.)
There are not only quite a few ways to say “sorry” in Spanish, but different situations in which one might do so. From when you make a mistake to when someone has passed away, and including when you just want to ask someone to pass the salt at the dinner table.
We hope this article has given you plenty of options on how to say “sorry” in Spanish for every occasion. If you want to see apologies in Spanish in action, check out this Spanish version of Justin Bieber’s Sorry.