One of the first phrases you’ll cover in your Spanish course is how to say “excuse me”.
If you’re about to embark on a trip and want to avoid any awkward interactions, or you need to brush up on a wide range of ways to say “excuse me”, you’ll find all the information you need right here.
Have a look at the guide below for all the best ways to say “excuse me” in Spanish.
How do we say “excuse me” in Spanish?
There are many ways to say “excuse me” in Spanish, but the principal ways to say it in circumstances where you’re trying to get someone’s attention is perdone or disculpe.
If you’re looking for directions from the train station to the nearest shopping centre for example, you could either say:
Perdone, ¿dónde está el centro comercial?
Or, alternatively, you might choose to say:
Disculpe, ¿sabe usted dónde está el centro comercial?
Use perdone or disculpe the same way that you would us “excuse me” as an English speaker—that is, as an opening word to get someone’s attention.
What are some alternative ways to say “excuse me” in Spanish?
For other contexts, you might choose an alternative phrase to say “excuse me” in Spanish, some of which are listed in the table below:
|Lo siento||Excuse me/Sorry|
|Perdóneme||Pardon me/excuse me|
|Con (su) permiso||With your permission|
|Un momento||One moment/excuse me|
|Permíteme||Excuse me/will you permit me?|
Let’s take a look at each of these and the contexts in which they should be used.
When should you use lo siento in Spanish?
Lo siento, like perdón can be used to apologise in Spanish, but it can also be used to say “excuse me”, or “excuse my insensitivity” if you’re being tactful.
Here are two examples of how to use lo siento to say “excuse me” in Spanish:
Tu madre tiene que ir al médico. Lo siento, no lo sabía. Que se recupere pronto.
No sabía que tus padres se divorciaron. Lo siento mucho.
In which contexts should we use permiso in Spanish?
Permiso, on its own, translates to English as “permission” and is used in contexts where you need to walk past someone who is blocking your path.
Since you’ll be using this one mostly to address strangers, you’re going to need to use the right register and level of formality.
Although you might use permiso to say excuse me to people who are younger than you, most scenarios require the usted version, which is con su permiso:
Con su permiso. ¿Me deja pasar?
You can tell that con su permiso is formal by looking at how it’s conjugated.
Since it’s accompanied with the possessive pronoun su and not tú, this must be used specifically in formal situations.
You’ll usually hear con su permiso when your weekly shopping gets delivered to your home. Before entering your home, the delivery person will say con su permiso, using the usted version to address you and ask if they can enter (as they don’t know you personally).
What does cómo mean in Spanish and when should you use it?
Though cómo can mean “as” or “like” when it doesn’t have an accent mark in Spanish, cómo also means “what?”, or “excuse me?”
If you were unable to hear what someone says, you can use cómo to ask them to repeat what they said.
Here’s an example of a dialogue in which cómo means “excuse me?”
¿Me traes un vaso de agua, por favor?
¿Cómo? No te oí.
Te pregunté si me puedes traer un vaso de agua, ¿por favor?
What does perdóneme mean in Spanish?
The word perdóneme means “excuse me” in Spanish. It takes the usted form and the pronoun me is tagged onto the end of the imperative for extra emphasis.
Use perdóneme when you’re speaking with strangers.
It kind of means “excuse my ignorance or wrongdoing”.
For instance, if someone’s walking their dog and it starts to bark at a stranger, you might hear the owner use the phrase perdóneme:
Perdóneme. Y no se preocupe, que no muerde.
What does perdone mean in Spanish and how is it different from perdon or perdona?
You might have noticed that there are two similar words to the noun perdon that you can also use to say “excuse me”, which are perdone and perdona.
The main difference between perdone and perdon is that perdone takes the usted form and has a higher level of formality than perdon.
Use perdone when you’re addressing a stranger
On the other hand, you can use perdona when you’re addressing friends, since it’s an informal imperative/ command.
What are some examples of how to use perdone and perdona?
There are some common examples of situations where you’d use perdóne, such as asking for the time in Spanish.
To say “excuse me” when approaching a stranger, you would say perdone, and then proceed to ask the question:
¿Perdone, tiene hora? He olvidado mi móvil.
Or, to ask for the nearest post office, you would open the sentence with perdone, and then ask the question:
¿Perdone, sabe usted si hay una oficina de correos cerca?
In contrast, you might use perdona in situations where you accidentally walk into your friend’s path.
For instance you could say:
Perdona, chica, que no te deje pasar.
This latter example has a more informal tone to it and the word perdona might even be interpreted as an apology in this case.
When do we use un momento in Spanish?
Although the literal translation of un momento is (as you might expect) “one moment”, the phase is ideal for those moments where you want to object to a situation or interject and state that you don’t agree with something that has occurred.
It’s like an exclamation or interjection that you might use when you’re not entirely content with a situation, and means “excuse me!”
For instance, if you object to someone pushing in front of you when you’re queuing in a supermarket, you might say:
Un momento, pero estaba esperando en la cola.
In cases like these, un momento is not really a request.
You’re not asking someone for something.
Rather, you’re objecting diplomatically to an injustice or unfavourable circumstance.
What does permítame mean and when should you use it?
The translation of permítame is “will you permit me?” or “do I have permission?”
It is used as a follow up when asking for permission to use something that doesn’t belong to you.
For example, in a work environment, if you want to help a colleague by showing them how to carry out a task on their computer, you would use permítame to ask for permission to use it.
In this case, think of it the Spanish version of the phrase “do you mind if…?”
No entiendo como funciona este formulario.
A ver. ¿Puedo usar el ordenador, permítame?
Sí, por supuesto. La contraseña es 13579XYZ.
Since permítame uses the usted form, use this when you’re speaking to strangers or work colleagues.
Use these phrases to show your etiquette and say excuse me
As you will have noticed, there are several options for saying “excuse me” in Spanish, and the option you take really depends on the context.
Remember that some of these phrases are ideal for formal situations and others are ideal for informal situations.
Distinguishing between the two is important so that you use the right level of formality for the right circumstances.
Practice by making a list of the phrases you are unfamiliar with and create sentences with them.
Challenge yourself to learn which words or phrases require formal sentences and which require informal sentences.
Listen to recordings and Spanish YouTube channels to practice hearing these words being used and when in doubt, imitate native speakers to use these correctly.
Got any other tips for learning how to say excuse me in Spanish?
Add your contribution to the comments section just below!