Let's continue our lesson about the most common ways to say “I'm sorry” in Spanish. Thank you to everybody who sent us feedback and suggestions about this lesson!
We discussed the expression lo siento (I'm sorry) in our previous lesson. Let's now focus on the use and meaning of perdóna[me] and discúlpa[me]. As we mentioned before, these two words have a clear and very distinctive apologetic nature and both translate as "I'm sorry," given the appropriate context.
Ay... ¡perdón! ¡Perdón!
Oh... sorry! Sorry!
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Te recuerdo, no me digas así porque no lo soporto. Ay, disculpa.
I remind you, don't call me that because I can't deal with it. Oh, sorry.
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Remember that perdón and disculpa are also nouns that mean "forgiveness" and "excuse" respectively. So you can say te pido perdón (I ask your forgiveness) or te pido disculpas (literally "I ask you to excuse me"):
Y si he fallado en algo, te pido perdón
And if I have failed in something, I ask your forgiveness
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¿Ya, contento? Te pido disculpas.
Happy now? I beg your forgiveness.
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But by simply saying perdón or disculpa you are actually using these words as verbs in the imperative form, just like "forgive me" and "excuse me" in English. That's made more evident when you attach the personal pronoun me as a suffix to either perdón or disculpa, which is very common (and adds a personal touch to the expression):
¡Qué mala onda, perdóname!
Jeez, forgive me!
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Pero, discúlpame, amiga.
But, sorry, friend.
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You may want to know that even though both perdóname and discúlpame can be translated as "I'm sorry," there are subtle differences between them. In general, perdón is seen as a more heartfelt apology, and more personal. So, thoughtful people who really value precision reserve it for occasions in which they made an actual mistake, personally hurt somebody, etc. Saying disculpa or discúlpame is seen as more casual. Perhaps that's why disculpa is preferred as a simple polite expression equivalent to "excuse me" or "pardon me," phrases that don't necessarily imply you've made a mistake. Remember that, depending on your personal preference and the context, you may want to address people politely by saying (usted) disculpe or discúlpeme:
Disculpe, ¿y usted quién es?
Excuse me, and who are you?
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