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How to say “Sorry” in Spanish

With its rich cultural tapestry and linguistic diversity, the Spanish language places significant emphasis on the manner and form of apologies. Understanding how to say "sorry" in Spanish and its nuances can open doors to deeper connections and smoother interactions in Spanish-speaking cultures. So, let’s explore the contexts, expressions, and cultural insights that make each apology meaningful.

Importance of apologies in Spanish-speaking cultures

In Spanish-speaking cultures, apologizing is not only a mere offer of regret but also shows sincerity, empathy, and understanding of social dynamics. Compared to the U.S., where apologies might sometimes be more casual or less frequent, Spanish-speaking cultures often view apologies as fundamental to maintaining respect in relationships. Understanding these cultural subtleties is essential. An apology in Spanish can range from a simple expression for bumping into someone, to a heartfelt expression of sorrow for a significant error or oversight. It’s about the context, the depth of the relationship, and the gravity of the situation.

How do you say sorry in Spanish in different scenarios?

There are several different ways to apologize in Spanish, and it's important to understand the difference in expressing authenticity in various situations.  

Apologizing for minor accidents

For everyday accidents or mishaps, like stepping on someone's foot or bumping into them, a simple "Lo siento" (pronounced "loh-see-en-toh") suffices. This phrase translates directly to “I’m sorry” and is universally understood. It’s casual and can be used in most informal situations.


Spanish: "Lo siento, no te vi allí."

English: "Sorry, I didn’t see you there."

Apologizing for your mistakes

When acknowledging your mistake, especially when you’re genuinely at fault, “Lo lamento” (loh lah-men-toh) expresses a deeper level of regret. It translates to “I regret it” and is more heartfelt.


Spanish: "Lo lamento, fue mi error."

English: "I regret it; it was my mistake."

Expressing regrets

To convey sympathy or regret about a situation that’s not directly your fault, you could use “Qué lástima” (keh lah-stee-mah), meaning “What a pity.” It’s a way of empathizing with someone else’s unfortunate situation.


Spanish: "Qué lástima que no puedas venir."

English: "What a pity that you can’t come."

To comfort someone

In situations requiring comfort or expressing condolences, “Lo siento mucho” (loh see-en-toh moo-cho) is appropriate. It translates to “I am very sorry” and is commonly used in more serious or sensitive contexts.


Spanish: "Lo siento mucho por tu pérdida."

English: "I am very sorry for your loss."

When asking for something

In Spanish, it’s polite to use “Perdón” (pehr-dohn) or “Disculpa” (dees-kool-pah) when you’re interrupting someone or asking for a favor. These translate to “pardon” or “excuse me” and are used to grab attention politely.


Spanish: "Perdón, ¿puedes ayudarme?"

English: "Excuse me, can you help me?"

“Sorry” as in “excuse me”

In crowded places, or when moving through a group, “Con permiso” (kohn pehr-mee-soh), literally meaning “with permission,” is used. It’s a courteous way to excuse yourself while navigating through spaces.


Spanish: "Con permiso, necesito pasar."

English: "Excuse me, I need to get through."

Beyond “lo siento” – other apology phrases in Spanish

Apologizing formally

When in a formal setting or addressing someone with whom you have a formal relationship, it’s better to use “Le pido disculpas” (leh pee-doh dees-kool-pahs), which is a more formal way of saying “I apologize.”


Spanish: "Le pido disculpas por el retraso."

English: "I apologize for the delay."

Asking for forgiveness

To directly ask for forgiveness, “Perdóname” (pehr-doh-nah-meh) for informal and “Perdóneme” (pehr-doh-neh-meh) for formal scenarios are used. It translates to “forgive me.”


Spanish (informal): "Perdóname por olvidar nuestro aniversario."

English: "Forgive me for forgetting our anniversary."

Acknowledging a misunderstanding

In cases of misunderstandings, “Fue un malentendido” (fweh oon mah-len-ten-dee-doh) can be used, meaning “It was a misunderstanding.”


Spanish: "Fue un malentendido, no quise ofenderte."

English: "It was a misunderstanding, I didn’t mean to offend you."

When “sorry” isn’t enough

In situations where “sorry” doesn’t quite capture the depth of your feelings, you might say, “No hay palabras para expresar mi arrepentimiento” (noh eye pah-lah-brahs pah-rah eks-preh-sahr mee ahr-reh-peen-tee-mee-en-toh), which means “There are no words to express my regret.”


Spanish: "No hay palabras para expresar mi arrepentimiento por el daño causado."

English: "There are no words to express my regret for the harm caused."

Pronunciation and cultural nuances

In Spanish, the way you pronounce your apology and the context in which you use it matters. The tone should match the seriousness of the situation. A simple “lo siento” with a friendly tone is enough in more casual settings. However, in more serious situations, your tone should reflect sincerity and remorse.

Remember, in Spanish-speaking cultures, apologies often involve more than words. It’s about the gesture, the sincerity in your eyes, and the willingness to make amends. It’s not just about saying “sorry”; it’s about showing it.

In the next section, we’ll explore more specific scenarios and phrases for apologizing in Spanish, ensuring that you’re prepared for various situations — from bumping into someone on the street to navigating complex social dynamics. Let’s continue expanding your Spanish apology vocabulary and understanding the cultural subtleties that come with it.

How to say "sorry" in Spanish by level

Navigating through various levels of apologies in Spanish is an art. Each level reflects a different depth of emotion and context. Let’s break them down.

Casual apologies

In casual or everyday situations, simple phrases suffice. These are used among friends, close colleagues, or in informal settings.

"Lo siento" (I'm sorry): Basic and versatile.

"Perdona" (Forgive me): Informal and direct.

"Mil disculpas" (A thousand apologies): Expressive yet casual.

Formal apologies

The language shifts to a more respectful tone in formal settings or when addressing someone with respect (like an elder or a superior).

"Le pido disculpas" (I ask for your apologies): Shows respect and formality.

"Lamento mucho lo ocurrido" (I deeply regret what happened): Conveys a sense of seriousness.

"Mis más sinceras disculpas" (My most sincere apologies): Reflects genuine remorse in a formal context.

Genuine apologies

When the situation requires a heartfelt apology, indicating that you truly mean it, these phrases come in handy.

"De verdad, lo siento mucho" (Truly, I am very sorry): Emphasizes sincerity.

"No fue mi intención lastimarte" (It was not my intention to hurt you): Shows care and concern.

Deep or heartfelt apologies

For moments that need a profound expression of regret, these phrases strongly convey your emotions.

"Estoy arrepentido/a de corazón" (I am heartily sorry): Indicates deep regret.

"Nunca fue mi intención causar tanto dolor" (It was never my intention to cause so much pain): Shows depth of feeling.

How to say “sorry” in Spanish slang

In informal, day-to-day interactions, especially among the younger crowd, slang comes into play. You might hear a phrase like this:

"Fue sin querer, te lo juro" (It was unintentional, I swear): Conveys accidental mistakes colloquially.

How to say “sorry” in Spanish at a glance

Spanish Phrase English Translation
Lo siento I'm sorry
Perdona Forgive me
Mil disculpas A thousand apologies
Le pido disculpas I ask for your apologies
Lamento mucho lo ocurrido I deeply regret what happened
Mis más sinceras disculpas My most sincere apologies
De verdad, lo siento mucho Truly, I am very sorry
No fue mi intención lastimarte It was not my intention to hurt you
Estoy arrepentido/a de corazón I am heartily sorry
Nunca fue mi intención causar tanto dolor It was never my intention to cause so much pain
Fue sin querer, te lo juro It was unintentional, I swear

Lo siento vs. perdón

Understanding when to use “Lo siento” and “Perdón” is crucial for effective communication. “Lo siento” is used to express sorrow for a situation or action, often implying empathy. “Perdón” is commonly used to ask for forgiveness or to excuse oneself, like getting someone’s attention or passing through.

Misuse Example:

Incorrect: "Perdón por llegar tarde" when you want to express that you feel sorry for being late.

Correct: "Lo siento por llegar tarde."

Correct Use Example:

Appropriate: "Perdón, ¿tienes hora?" when politely asking for the time.

How to forgive in Spanish

Forgiveness is a two-way street. Here are ways to express forgiveness in Spanish.

"No te preocupes" (Don’t worry): For minor offenses.

"Está olvidado" (It’s forgotten): Indicates that you’ve moved past the issue.

"Te perdono" (I forgive you): A clear and straightforward expression of forgiveness.

Common phrases and idioms used in apologies

Spanish, rich in expressions and idioms, has colorful ways to convey apologies.

"Echarse a los pies" (To throw oneself at someone’s feet): An idiom for asking for forgiveness dramatically.

"Pedir la luna" (To ask for the moon): Used when someone expects too much, perhaps in an apology.

"Meter la pata" (To put one’s foot in it): Admitting you’ve made a mistake.

Wrapping up

Remember, apologies in Spanish go beyond mere words. They're about the intention, tone, and the willingness to make amends. So, as you step into the world armed with these expressions, remember that each apology is an opportunity to bridge gaps, heal wounds, and strengthen bonds. In every "lo siento" lies the power to transform relationships, making every word you learn an essential thread in the fabric of human interactions.

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