Apologizing is a common and essential part of everyday social interactions. Language learners, however, often overlook it, or learn it relatively late. You can avoid this common pitfall by learning these ways of saying sorry in Portuguese, especially if you practice with an expert tutor.
Here are five ways to say “sorry” in Portuguese:
The most basic and universal way to say sorry in Portuguese. If you’re not sure what to use, then desculpa or desculpe is acceptable in most situations. Just like with the English word “sorry,” though, it may not be sufficient in more serious situations. Desculpe is the imperative conjugation of desculpar for the pronoun você, and desculpa is the conjugation for tu. In Brazil, you’d be more likely to use desculpe, whereas in Portugal it would depend more on the context.
Eu sinto muito
This is a better expression to use in more serious situations, and literally means “I really feel.” For instance, eu quebrei seu vaso, eu sinto muito means “I broke your vase, I’m very sorry.”
This is particularly appropriate if you’ve hurt somebody’s feelings, and literally means “forgive me.”
This expression literally translates as “I lament” and is for either breaking or hearing about sad news. For instance, if somebody tells you they have recently lost their job, an appropriate response is eu lamento ouvir isso, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Foi sem querer
Use this to emphasize that something was an accident. For instance, in the vase example from before, you could say eu quebrei seu vaso. Eu sinto muito, foi sem querer, which means “I broke your vase. I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
These five phrases will get you through most situations when you need to apologize. To really get a feel for which one to use in which situation, and how to adapt them to cover different kinds of incidents, you’ll need to practice them with a professional teacher. Take the next step: learn Portuguese online here.