In English, there are numerous ways to say “excuse me,” and we use different expressions depending on the situation. There are also numerous ways to say ‘excuse me’ in Spanish, and if you use them correctly, you can speak like a native.
Knowing basic expressions hold great importance in learning a second language. Try one of these 15 expressions the next time you need to ask someone for more time or to move from in front of you. If you use the best expression, you will sound more fluent and appear more polite.
‘Permiso’ is the most commonly used expression in Spanish for “excuse me.” Everyone will understand that you are saying “excuse me” when you say this. You can use this at any time and in any situation, and there will be no misunderstanding. It works well in both informal and formal settings.
You don’t need to be concerned about formality because the expression is only one word and literally translates to “permission.”
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2. Con su permiso
If you want to be polite when interrupting someone during a meeting, say “con su permiso.” The word’su’ indicates that this is a formal sentence.
In a formal setting, such as an office or a university, you should use this. When you want to go do something, you always say this. Because ‘con’ means with and ‘permiso’ means permission, you are requesting permission to do something.
You can use an interjection like in English when you interrupt someone. ‘Perdón’ is a Spanish interjection that means “excuse me,” and you can use it when you want to bother someone about something.
If you are walking into a meeting and want to sit, you could say this to get someone’s attention. Once you have their attention, you will ask a question.
If you happen to run into someone in a line, you can say ‘perdóneme.’ You should only use this for minor blunders that necessitate an apology. When people want to exclaim, they will sometimes add extra words before this. You can add ‘uy’ in front of the word to make it more interesting or to express surprise.
When you say ‘uy, perdóneme,’ you are apologizing and saying “excuse me” in the same sentence.
5. Lo siento
Although this is technically an apology, it can also be used as “excuse me.” This will come in handy in a few situations. You can use this in the same way that you would ‘perdóneme.’ People typically use this for actions that have unintended consequences.
Apart from these expressions, you can also learn to say thank you in Spanish, as these expressions are going to help you a lot in holding formal and informal conversations on daily basis.
The verb is ‘permitir,’ means “to allow.” You have probably guessed that this means you would like to excuse yourself and are politely requesting permission. In a formal setting, you would use this to excuse yourself.
7. Un momento
If you are being falsely accused of something, you should use ‘un momento.’ It is a polite way of saying “something’s wrong.” The literal translation could be “for a split second.” You should use this when you have more information to share with someone after telling them they are incorrect.
In informal situations, ‘espere’ can be used instead of ‘un momento.’ Both of these indicate that something isn’t quite right and that you need to correct the story. You would not say this to your boss or someone in a position of power. Instead, use this when speaking with friends or family members.
Know that, there are some business greetings in Spanish that are specifically used in a formal setting. You need to be aware of all the formal and informal expressions in order to avoid any embarrassment.
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If you mishear someone, you might want them to repeat what they said. ‘Cómo?’ is a common phrase in Spanish. You can use this when speaking to anyone, and it can mean “come again?” or “excuse me, can you repeat that?” in English.
In Spanish, it is common for long phrases to be shortened. The context contributes significantly to the shortening.
10. ¿Cómo fue?
Similar to ‘¿Cómo?’ you can say, ‘¿Cómo fue?’ When you don’t understand something or miss what was said, you can ask, “Cómo fue?” You can apply this to anyone. The distinction is ‘fue,’ which means “was it” in English. The phrase translates as “what was it?”
You can use this to get more information about something. The connotation is slightly different than simply ‘Cómo?’ because it indicates that you want clarification and repetition. This translates to “excuse me, could you repeat that?” in English.
11. Me apena
‘Me apnea’ is an extreme way of saying “excuse me.” This should not be used lightly because it translates to “I regret.” It also means you are sorry for something you did, but it can also mean “excuse me.” To use this as an “excuse me,” you must be deeply sorry for causing an inconvenience.
‘Lamento’ can be used in the same way that ‘me apena’ can. This expression is used to justify yourself for making a mistake that has resulted in a bad situation. The verb ‘lamentar’ means “to regret,” but it can also be used as a noun “lamento” for “a regret.” This is a verb when used as “excuse me.” You can say it’s a verb by replacing the ‘ar’ ending with an ‘o’ for ‘yo’ in Spanish.
If you need to interrupt someone while speaking in Spanish, say ‘disculpe.’ This can be used in either a formal or informal setting. Take note of the subjunctive form of this verb. You can ask someone for permission to interrupt them, but you can’t guarantee they will agree or not.
You cannot use ‘excsame’ in the same way as the other examples on this list because it literally means “excuse me.” When you use this phrase, you are excusing someone’s action. In Spanish, this is more commonly used as “I’m sorry.”
You only use the word ‘excsame’ to justify your actions. In the following example, you did something that resulted in a negative outcome.
‘Mande’ is a very common colloquial expression in Mexico. When you need clarification on something, use this. It is a very informal and colloquial way of saying ‘Cómo?’ Because the phrase is so informal, it should only be used with family or close friends.
There are several ways to say ‘excuse me’ in Spanish just like in English. We have explored some expressions ranging from formal to informal situations. Be mindful while choosing the right phrase for you based on your situation.
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