Lo siento… Sorry in Spanish, right? Wrong! Well kind of… It depends on the context. Today, I want to write about something that has confused me in Spanish for the longest time and share my thoughts and some tips if you are a Spanish learner. I started learning Spanish in high school and have been practicing and learning ever since. As a pre-k assistant, I had to constantly tell my students to apologize to their friends, for hitting each other, stealing their toys, or cutting in line. I would always say, “Dile lo siento…” thinking it meant our equivalent of “Tell him sorry” or “Say sorry.”
After saying this a few hundred times and hearing native speakers, I realized this was not the best way to apologize and the Spanish language had a few different ways to express being sorry. Here are the three I have found that might help if you are wondering the best way to apologize in different contexts or ask students to apologize.
- Lo siento
The literal meaning of this means ” I feel it.” This would be appropriate if someone is telling you about losing a family member or complaining about their life. You are offering sympathy when you say this. The English equivalent might be something like ” I am sorry to hear that.”
2. Perdón, Perdóname, Perdóneme
The literal meaning of the first one would be “Sorry” and the next two would be “Forgive me” in the informal and formal conjugations. If you bump into someone, you would just say “perdón” and that would just act as an English “excuse me,” “pardon me,” or just “sorry.” The other two you would use if you are asking someone for forgiveness after you made a mistake. You can also use disculpa/disculpe for these situations but it seems a little formal.
3. Pedir disculpas, pedir perdón
This is what I should have been saying to my students when I wanted them to apologize to each other. “Pedir” means to ask so these would literally mean, ” to ask for apologies” and “to ask forgiveness.”
So… when you want to tell a student to apologize to another student, instead of “
dile lo siento” you can say anyone of these:
- tienes que pedirle disculpas/perdón
- quiero que le pidas disculpas/perdón
- Pídele perdón/ Pídele disculpas
Thank you for reading! I hope this helped and as you know, I am not a native speaker so if you see something incorrect here, please let me know! Gracias 🙂