To apologize is part of our everyday life. We do things without thinking, we make mistakes, or we forget important things. So, learning how to apologize in Mexico is very important. As we say in Mexico: “es educado,” meaning it is polite to say sorry or to ask for an apology.
But, how do we say it in Spanish? Should we say “lo siento” or “perdón”? Are there any more expressions?
Yes. Actually, we have many verbs and expressions in Spanish to say sorry or to catch somebody’s attention. Here are some examples.
The word “perdón” is often used when we cannot hear what the other person is saying. In a way, it is how we ask someone to repeat what she or he said. It’s like saying, “I beg your pardon.”
When we want to catch somebody’s attention we say “disculpa,” which means “excuse me.” Usually, we say this, for example, when we are on the street and want to ask for an address or a place. As we approach the person, we say “disculpa.” The normal response would be “si, dígame” meaning “yes, tell me” and then we ask or tell the person our request.
Another common situation when we say “disculpa” is at the restaurant. Once we are at our table and need something, if we say “disculpa” the waiter would know you are asking him or her to come to the table.
On the other hand, it is very different to say “discúlpame.” When you look up this word in the translator it gives you the translation: “excuse me.” However, its meaning is closer to “I’m sorry.” The way we say it, for example, is when you are walking down the street and you bump into someone unintentionally. In general, every time we do something accidentally this is the expression to use.
Another translation for “I’m sorry” is “lo siento,” which could be used the same way as “discúlpame.”
There is another expression for “excuse me” which is “con permiso.” The literal translation is “with your permit.” You can say “con permiso” when you walk into a room and there’s somebody in the way, or it is very common to say it when you are on the bus and you want to walk through the people standing. You can just say, “con permiso.”
“Con permiso” is also used in the supermarket when you are in line and someone wants to walk through the line. You will hear “con permiso,” asking if you can give them room to cross the line.
We also have more meaningful ways to apologize. We say “perdóname” when we hurt somebody’s feelings. If you say something without thinking and then realize it wasn’t nice, you can express that you’re sorry by saying “perdóname” or “lo siento mucho.” You could also say “discúlpame,” but this time the tone of your voice will tell that it’s more thoughtful.
Lastly, when you have a deeper and more meaningful feeling, as when somebody dies, or when you hear bad news, we say “lo lamento” or “lo lamento mucho” as a way to give your condolences. Again, “lo siento mucho” would be appropriate to say in these cases.
Now, imagine that you are having dinner with friends and you want to excuse yourself to go to the baño. What would you say? Would it be the same as when you want to reach for the salt? How about when you have the last piece of bread and somebody wanted another piece? Or you say an inappropriate joke? Let us know your comments.
Saludos y hasta la próxima.