DON’T Say PERDON, say THESE 5 Alternatives Instead!

DON’T Say PERDON, say THESE 5 Alternatives Instead!

Maura, sabes…
(Maura, you know…)

¡Aaaah! Me asustaste, pensé que no estabas.
(Aaaah! You scared me, I thought you were gone.)

Ay, perdón. Lo siento, ¿me disculpas?
(Oh, sorry. I’m sorry, will you forgive me?)

So, sweet Amanda here is very dramatic and basically apologized in every way possible. It is useful for us though, since we are about go in depth with how to apologize in Spanish, ask for forgiveness and excuse yourself like a native!

Yo soy Maura, de Spring Spanish and let’s now take a look at 5 alternatives to lo siento in Spanish. ¡Empecemos!

1. How to correctly use lo siento (I’m sorry) when apologizing in Spanish

¿Qué te pasa? Has estado cabizbaja todo el día.
(What’s the matter with you? You’ve been glum all day.)

¿Ah? Es que… nada. Estoy preocupada por una amiga que está pasando por algo difícil.
(Oh? It’s just that… nothing. I’m worried about a friend who is going through something difficult.)

Lo siento mucho. Entiendo si no puedes contarme. Si no hay nada que puedas hacer, lo mejor es escucharla y darle apoyo.
(I am so sorry. I understand if you can’t tell me. If there is nothing you can do, the best thing to do is to listen to her and give her support.)

Lo sé, pero lamentablemente eso es justo lo que ella no hace, compartir cómo se siente. Se cierra y… tampoco puedo forzarla.
(I know, but unfortunately that’s just what she doesn’t do, share how she feels. She shuts down and… I can’t force her either.)

Pues sí, es lamentable. No contarlo y compartirlo, solo lo hace más difícil para ella y para ti. Lo siento, amiga. ¿Te hago un té?
(Well yes, it is unfortunate. Not telling and sharing it, only makes it harder for her and for you. I’m sorry, girlfriend. Can I make you a tea? )

Sí, gracias.
(Yes, thank you.)

As you can see in the dialogue, we generally need for the situation to be, at least, a little serious to use lo siento (I’m sorry). It can go all the way to absolute seriousness like when somebody passes away. But, other everyday situations in which most of us would use lo siento (I’m sorry), would be:

  • When you hurt someone: Lo siento mucho. (I’m so sorry.)
  • When you make an important mistake: Lo siento. (I’m sorry.)
  • When you are being very annoying: Lo siento pero necesito luz. (I’m sorry but I need light.)

That being said, feel free to use lo siento (I’m sorry) according to your personality. Yo lo digo todo el tiempo, incluso para las cosas más minúsculas. (I say this all the time, even for the the littlest of things.)

We could also use another word we used in the dialogue for all of these examples. Me pregunto si sabes cuál es. (I wonder if you know which one it is.)

Lo lamento (I’m sorry) is easily used as a synonym. The only thing is that it does have a more serious feeling and it is less used, al menos en Venezuela (at least in Venezuela). Keep in mind that with all of these words there might be slight differences depending on the country, pero nada importante que pueda causar algún problema en lo absoluto. (but nothing major that can cause any problems whatsoever.)

Save lo lamento (I’m sorry) for very serious situations like: again, when somebody passes away, someone gets fired, a couple breaks up or anything you want to be serious about. Different combinations are possible, try the following:

  • Lo lamento mucho o muchísimo. (I’m very sorry.)
  • Lo lamento en el alma. (I’m sorry in my soul.)
  • Lo lamento de verdad. (I am really sorry.)

I used it in the dialogue to say something is lamentable (unfortunate). You can also use this little word like this and it’ll be far more common. Try saying things like:

  • El estado del océano a nivel mundial es lamentable, por decir lo mínimo. (The state of the ocean worldwide is unfortunate, to say the least.)
  • Lamentablemente, no puedo acompañarlos a cenar hoy, pero para la próxima ¡me uno seguro! (Unfortunately, I can’t join you for dinner today, but next time I’ll join you for sure!)

Just so you know, at the end of this video we’ll be covering how to use some of these expression to show you’re offended so, quite the opposite energy of apologizing.

2. How to apologize with perdón, disculpa y con permiso (pardon me, excuse me and with permission) in Spanish

¡Gracias! Eres la mejor. Perdón que te fastidie pero, ¿le pusiste miel?
(Thank you! You’re the best. Sorry to bother you but, did you put honey in it?)

Ay, no disculpa, ya te la traigo.
(Oh, no, excuse me, I’ll get it for you.)

No te tienes que disculpar, ¿estás loca? Yo la busco.
(You don’t have to apologize, are you crazy? I’ll get it.)

Es que yo sé que te gusta con miel, pero se me olvidó. ¿Me disculpas?
(It’s just that I know you like it with honey, but I forgot. Will you forgive me?)

MAURA (off-camera)
Amanda, deja el drama. Ya la tengo.
(Amanda, stop the drama. I have it.)

Chunk Alert!

Deja el drama (stop the drama) is such a common chunk for me. Creo que mi mamá me lo decía a diario cuando era adolescente. (I think my mom would say this daily to me as a teenager.) Solo para que sepas, yo era súper dramática. (Just so you know, I was super dramatic.) You can use it with anyone you’re close to. También (Also), it’s all about how you say it, so it can be serious or playful. If you say it to someone who’s not being dramatic at all, it’s even diminishing.

No es por ser dramática pero (Not to be dramatic but), if you haven’t checked that link in the description, you must do it now, like, ¡ahora mismo! (right now!) It’ll give you access to our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit which is filled with everyday chunks for you to start using immediately!

De vuelta a nuestro diálogo (Back to our dialogue), disculpa (excuse me) is a much lighter word that you can use for everyday micro apologies. Unlike lo siento (I’m sorry) and lo lamento (I’m sorry), this is more about apologizing than feeling sorry for someone. Así que guárdalo para pequeñas disculpas. (So, save it for small apologies.) Do not use this when something heavy happens to another person!

Use it when:

  • You bump into someone on the street.
  • You want to be polite before asking something, like: Disculpa, ¿sabes dónde queda el Museo del Prado? (Excuse me, do you know where Museo del Prado is?)
  • You made a tiny mistake, like in the dialogue: Ay, no disculpa, ya te traigo la miel. (Oh, no, excuse me, I’ll get the honey for you.)

You can use perdón (pardon) for all of this as well. It is less common for me as a Venezuelan, though. In my family they always say: Perdón sólo se le pide a Dios. (Pardons are only asked from God.) Catholic much? Here in Madrid, though, I rarely hear disculpa and they do use perdón for everything.

(Phone rings) Uff, tengo que atender porque es mi jefa. Permiso.
(Pff, I have to take this because it’s my boss. Excuse me.)

Seguro, adelante.
(Sure, go ahead.)

Lo siento, es que está con un estrés esta semana que ni yo.
(I’m sorry, she’s just so stressed out this week that not even I can relate.)

No te preocupes. La verdad eso es mucho decir, jaja.
(No worries. That’s really saying a lot, haha.)

We use permiso o con permiso (excuse me) to ask to be excused from something, but you’re not apologizing or feeling bad for anything nor anyone. It’s more for things like:

  • When you need to leave the table.
  • When you need to pick up a phone call, like in the dialogue.
  • When you enter someone’s home and you don’t know them very well. Or, you’re trying to look good in front of someone. Cuando yo era adolescente era dramática, pero súper educada y siempre decía “con permiso” cuando llegaba a casa de mis amigas y amigos. ¡Me ganaba a todos los papás y mamás en un instante! (When I was a teenager I was dramatic, but super polite and always said “excuse me” when I arrived at my friends’ house. I won over all the moms and dads in an instant!)
  • When you need to pass someone on the streets. Por favor, hazlo. (Please, do it.) The public space is for all and the other person’s presence should be recognized as if they have a right to exist as well. Dicho a todos los maleducados que me chocan por la calle como si fuera transparente. (Said to all the rude people that bump me on the streets like I’m transparent.)

3. How to ask for forgiveness in Spanish

De verdad, lo siento mucho por hoy.
(I’m really sorry for today.)

¿Por qué? ¿De qué hablas?
(Why? What are you talking about?)

La idea era que compartiéramos un rato y yo estuve distraída todo el tiempo. Perdóname. ¡Te prometo que la próxima vez hacemos lo que tú quieras!
(The idea was for us to share some time and I was distracted the whole time. Forgive me, I promise next time we’ll do whatever you want!)

¡No! Querida, no te preocupes, no es nada, de verdad. La idea era que compartiéramos lo que nos pasa y en este momento eso es lo que te pasa.
(No! My dear, don’t worry, it’s nothing, really. The idea was for us to share what happens to us and at this moment that is what happens to you.)

¡Gracias! Te quiero, amiga.
(Thank you. I love you, girlfriend.)

All right, so, asking for forgiveness is as simple as using either perdón (pardon) or discúlpame (excuse me), just like that. That conjugation, perdón and discúlpame, is the imperative mood, que es un estado sencillo y útil sobre el que hicimos un vídeo que puedes mirar aquí (which is a simple and useful mood we made a video about that you can check over here.)

The idea is that you “tell” the person to forgive you, like I did in the dialogue by saying: perdóname (pardon me). I could’ve also said: discúlpame (excuse me). You cannot use lo siento o lo lamento (I’m sorry) for this.

También (also), it’s possible to ask for it as an actual question, like:

  • ¿Me perdonas? (Will you pardon me?)
  • ¿Me disculpas? (Will you excuse me?)

If you want to be even more emphatic, add a please:

  • Por favor perdóname. (Please pardon me.)
  • Por favor discúlpame. (Please excuse me.)

To accept someone’s apologies you have many options. Saying something like: acepto tu disculpa (I accept your apologies) could work but it might be too serious and/or formal for most situations. I, personally, would prefer saying:

  • No te preocupes. (Don’t worry.)
  • No es nada, de verdad. (It’s nothing, really.)
  • Olvídalo, ya pasó. (Forget it, it’s passed.)

4. Acting offended with perdón y disculpa (sorry and excuse me) in Spanish

AMANDA (during her phone call with her boss)
No, Cristina, disculpa pero yo lo que te dije fue que Ángel se iba a encargar de eso, no que yo no quería hacerlo. Si…
(No, Cristina, I’m sorry but what I told you was that Angel was going to take care of it, not that I didn’t want to do it. If…)

(Unintelligible angry speech)

¡¿Disculpa?! No creo que sea necesario llegar a tanto, Cristina. Mejor conversamos en otro momento, cuando estemos más tranquilas.
(Excuse me?! I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far, Cristina. We better talk some other time, when we’re calmer.)

MAURA (off camera)
¿Qué pasó? ¿Qué te dijo?
(What happened? What did she say?)

Se volvió loca y se puso a insultarme a mi y a todo el equipo. Y no, eso no es aceptable. Que se calme y ya hablaremos.
(She went crazy and started insulting me and the whole team. And no, that’s not acceptable. Let her calm down and we’ll talk later.)

Tell me you got the shock in Amanda’s “¡¿disculpa?! (Excuse me?!) because that’s what this whole section is about. Sé que se puede hacer lo mismo en inglés, así que solo hay que saber que funciona exactamente igual en español. (I know we can do the same in English, so just know it works exactly the same in Spanish.) Use your tone and fight other people’s bad vibes by simple saying: ¡¿disculpa?! (excuse me?!) or ¡¿perdón?! (pardon me?!). Whichever suits you best will work just fine.


How to apologize in Spanish?

For everyday minor things, you can use:

  • Lo siento (I’m sorry)
  • Perdón (Pardon me)
  • Disculpa (Excuse me)

For serious things you feel sorry about, use:

  • Lo lamento (I’m sorry)

For things like leaving the table, picking up a phone call, or passing someone on the streets, say:

  • Con permiso (Excuse me)

To ask for forgiveness, you can use:

  • ¿Me perdonas? (Will you forgive me?)
  • Por favor, discúlpame. (Please, forgive me.)

Now that you learned how to navigate the world of apologizing and feeling sorry in Spanish, how about learning how to wish someone well or good luck? We say many more things than justbuena suerte”.

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