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Saying “I’m sorry” in Spanish

Here in the UK we’re renowned for over using the word “sorry”, we say it for everything, to apologize, to get someone’s attention or asking them to repeat themselves. In Spanish it’s uses are slightly different.

There are four possible options: lo siento, disculpe, perdón and lamento. All mean “sorry” but how do you know which to use?

Let’s take lo siento. Siento means I feel and comes from the verb sentir (to feel). The translation therefore of lo siento, is I feel sorry. It’s a more meaningful “sorry”, like something you’d say if you were comforting someone or offering your condolences for example. When you feel very bad about something you can say lo siento mucho.

Eg. Lo siento, pero no estoy de acuerdo. — I’m sorry, but I disagree.

Discuple on the other hand means “excuse me” (formally) and discupla (informal) and comes from the verb discuplarse (to apologize). You might use this when you ask for forgiveness; pedir discupla. La disculpa is an apology.

Eg. Disculpa, no entiendo. ¿Hablas inglés? — Sorry, I don’t understand you. Do you speak English?

¡Perdón! is also used for asking for forgiveness, pedir perdón. But it’s used when something is kind of your fault – a handy one to remember when you’re in a busy “mercado” in Spain and you accidently bump into someone. You might say “aye perdón” or perdoname – forgive me.

Lamento is more poetic than lo siento. It comes from the verb lamentar (to regret or lament).

Eg. Lamento tu pérdida. — I’m sorry for your loss.

My advice would be to use perdón or discupla for when you’re out and about and lo siento and lamento for more meaningful apologies.

Want to hear how they are pronounced? Watch this short video below.

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