How to Apologize in Spanish: Phrases and Listening Practice

Hola nuevamente. Today’s lesson will teach some basic ways to apologize in Spanish for being late and for several other situations. We will learn formal and informal ways to say sorry in Spanish through a nice picture and examples. More importantly, you will be able to practice with two listening activities. Comencemos…

Vocabulary introduction: Common ways to apologize in Spanish

There are many ways to apologize in Spanish. Basically, “Lo siento” would be the most common way to say “I am sorry” in Spanish, but we also have some more formal phrases as well. It is very common to use the verb “Disculpar” meaning “to excuse” or “to apologize”. This verb is a very polite way to apologize in Spanish and will be often used as “Disculpa” (tú), “Disculpe” (usted) and “Discúlpanos” (nosotros). These conjugations are based on the rules for the imperative tense in Spanish, a grammar topic that was briefly introduced in our lesson for classroom commands.

The verb “Perdonar” means “to forgive” and we often use it as “Perdón” (impersonal), “Perdona” (tú) and “Perdónanos” (nosotros). Notice that the verbs DISCULPAR and PERDONAR can be used as Spanish reflexive verbs, just like polite commands, e.g. “Discúlpame” or “Perdóname” (which is the title of several famous Spanish songs). In order to reply when someone offers apologies in Spanish with “Lo siento” or any of the phrases we have covered, the other person usually says “No te preocupes”, “No hay problema” or “No tienes que disculparte”. The picture below shows a short list of phrases you can use to say sorry in Spanish. We will be using these expressions later for listening practice.

How to apologize in Spanish and say sorry for being late and other situations
Formas de disculparse en español

Listening Activity No.1: Apologizing in Spanish – Disculpándose

In order to practice and learn some other new phrases, we decided to write a short letter written by someone using different ways to apologize in Spanish. Listen to the letter and complete the missing parts. ¡Buena suerte!

Listening Activity No.2: Saying you are sorry in Spanish

Listen to a conversation between two co-workers. One of them is apologizing in Spanish for being late using different phrases. Try to understand why she is sorry and what the other person’s reaction is. Press START when you are ready.

Key phrases in the conversation:

  • “Desde hace rato” means “for a long time”
  • “La hora pico” means “The rush hour”
  • “Estaba casi segura…” means “I was almost sure…”
Conversation script: Saying sorry in Spanish
Gema: Hola Kevin… ¿Puedo pasar?
Kevin: Gema, pasa… te he estado esperando desde hace rato.
Gema: Disculpa por llegar tarde. El tráfico estaba horrible ahorita porque es la hora pico.
Kevin: No hay problema. ¿Tienes el reporte que te pedí?
Gema: Sí, creo que lo tengo en mi bolso… uhmm… espera… no lo encuentro. No puede ser. ¡Qué pena! Parece que lo dejé en mi oficina. ¡Qué tonto de mi parte!
Kevin: Vaya. Necesitamos ese reporte para hoy mismo. Tenemos que ir por él a tu oficina.
Gema: Está bien, no tenemos otra alternativa. Es mi culpa, perdón. Estaba casi segura que estaba en mi bolso.
Kevin: No te preocupes. Vamos por el reporte y en el camino discutimos sobre el pago por la traducción del proyecto.
Gema: Buena idea. Vámonos entonces.
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