How to Apologize in Spanish (and What ‘Lo Siento’ Really Means)
Have you ever needed to apologize in Spanish but didn’t know how?
That’s a common issue when you’re learning a new language. You might be ready to communicate and express yourself up to a point, but when you really need to say something important, you may realize that you don’t yet have the right vocabulary.
Learning to say lo siento and to apologize in Spanish is an important stepping stone on your path to fluency. Keep reading to learn how to apologize in Spanish, find out what lo siento really means, and discover other ways to apologize in this beautiful language.
Table of Contents:
- How To Apologize in Spanish
- The True Meaning of Lo Siento
- Other Ways to Apologize in Spanish
- Improve Your Spanish With Real Conversations
How To Apologize in Spanish
Apologizing is a natural element of daily life. It’s something that we all do for many reasons and in a diversity of contexts. If you know how to apologize in English, you understand how important it is to learn how to apologize in Spanish as part of your language learning process.
Just like in English, you apologize in many ways in Spanish. Perhaps the most common one is saying lo siento. Let’s start exploring what lo siento really means and then move onto other ways of apologizing in Spanish.
The True Meaning of Lo Siento
Although the meaning of lo siento is “I’m sorry,” this isn’t an exact translation. Literally, lo siento means “I feel it”—which, if you think about it, is a beautiful way of apologizing.
What exactly is that thing that you feel?
It’s whatever you did wrong that’s made you “feel” that you need to apologize.
But you can also interpret lo siento as an empathetic “feeling” of another person’s pain or embarrassment, whether it’s your fault or not. I like this interpretation a lot because it shows regret, empathy, and kindness.
Lo Siento Variants
You use lo siento in several ways, with a series of variants that express the same idea of “I’m sorry” and “I feel it.” It’s time to learn a few of them!
Lo siento mucho.
I’m very sorry.
¡Que lo siento!
I said I’m sorry!
Siento + que
This structure usually includes a subjunctive after que.
Siento que vengas tan tarde.
I’m sorry you came so late.
Siento que te haya fallado.
I’m sorry that I failed you.
Siento + lo
This expression can be followed either by que or de.
Siento lo que pasó ayer.
I’m sorry for what happened yesterday.
Siento lo de tu hermano.
I’m sorry for what happened to your brother.
Siento + infinitive
Use this construction to apologize about a specific action. You can include a no before the infinitive to build a negative sentence.
Siento decir esto.
I’m sorry for saying this.
Siento no llegar a tiempo.
I’m sorry for not arriving on time.
Other Ways to Apologize in Spanish
As I mentioned, lo siento is just one of the many ways you apologize in Spanish. Let’s learn a few other ways to apologize and say you’re sorry in Spanish.
Perdón literally means “forgiveness.” You use it to apologize in the same way as with lo siento, but also when you didn’t understand something well and want to ask for clarification, or when you bump into someone accidentally.
You can simply say perdón or:
Perdona. (You informal: tú)
Perdone. (You formal: usted)
Te pido que me perdones.
I ask you to forgive me.
Te pido perdón.
I ask you for your forgiveness.
Do you forgive me?
Disculpa is a useful word in Spanish. It means “excuse” or “apology,” but it’s much more than that. In Spanish, the concept of apologizing is known as pedir disculpas, literally “asking for apologies.” You can use disculpa for minor incidents, too.
In some contexts, the word is interchangeable with perdón and means exactly the same thing. For that reason, you’ll see some of the same expressions as with perdón.
Disculpa. (You informal: tú)
Disculpe. (You formal: usted)
Te pido una disculpa.
I ask you for your forgiveness.
Do you forgive me?
This expression literally means “I regret it,” but you use it in the same way as lo siento. If you replace the word siento with lamento in all the examples shown above for lo siento, the meaning of the expression doesn’t change.
Lo lamento mucho.
I’m very sorry.
Lamento lo que pasó ayer.
I’m sorry about what happened yesterday.
Lamento escuchar eso.
I’m sorry to hear that.
Lamentar can also express condolences about the loss or death of someone, particularly in the following structure:
Lamento tu pérdida.
I’m sorry for your loss.
In this case, using sentir wouldn’t be enough, and lamentar is the only option that works using this formula.
Read more: How to Use ‘Lo’ as the Neuter Gender in Spanish
Me arrepiento de lo que hice
In line with expressing your regret in Spanish, this phrase means “I regret what I did.” It’s a clear admission of guilt and another way to apologize in Spanish.
Me arrepiento de lo que hice, espero algún día puedas perdonarme.
I regret what I did, I hope one day you can forgive me.
No debí haber hecho eso
A different way of showing regret, this expression translates as “I shouldn’t have done that.” Change hecho (done) to dicho (said) and the phrase still works in the same way.
Tienes razón, no debí haber hecho eso.
You’re right, I shouldn’t have done that.
Lo siento mucho, no debí haber dicho eso.
I’m very sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.
Read more: How to Express Your Deepest Regrets in Spanish
Es mi culpa
In a way, apologizing is an admission of guilt and this is the most direct way to do exactly that. Meaning “It’s my fault,” this expression can also take a different form: Es culpa mía. Both phrases mean the exact same thing.
Perdóname, es mi culpa.
Forgive me, it’s my fault.
Es culpa mía, no volverá a pasar.
It’s my fault, it won’t happen again.
Here you have three more examples of what you can say when someone suffers the loss of a beloved person.
Mi más sentido pésame.
My deepest condolences.
Comparto tu dolor.
I share your pain.
Read more: Respectful Ways to Offer Condolences in Spanish
There’s a way of apologizing that’s not so much about something you did wrong, but about apologizing “up front” for what’s about to happen. For example, you use it when you need someone to move and let you pass by.
You aren’t apologizing because you made a mistake, but because you’re bothering another person due to a need you have.
Con permiso, ¿puedo pasar?
Excuse me, may I come in?
Permiso por favor, necesito llegar al mostrador.
Excuse me please, I need to get to the front desk.
Perdone la molestia, pero… (You formal: usted)
Sorry to bother you, but…
Improve Your Spanish With Real Conversations
Saying lo siento and learning other ways to apologize in Spanish is an important step in your language learning process.
Remember that becoming fluent in Spanish not only opens the door to better jobs, but also improves your cognition and decision-making abilities.
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