7 Trusty Ways to Respond to ‘Lo siento’

As humans (aliens, transformers, wookies, and the like, stop reading now!), chances are the people closest to you have screwed up at some point or another.

And when that happens, what do they do?

Well, if they speak Spanish, then hopefully they apologize with a heartfelt ‘¡Lo siento!’ or ‘I’m sorry!’ (sincerity is a virtue, y’all!).

So, this begs the question … how (the heck!) do you respond?

Well, I’ve prepared a list of 7 trusty ways to respond to ‘lo siento’, so the next time someone apologizes to you in Spanish, you’ll know exactly how to reply.

 Let’s get into it!

Meaning of ‘Lo siento’

Confusingly, ‘lo siento’ has two different meanings:

The verb ‘sentir’ can mean either ‘to feel’ or ‘to be sorry about’, so ‘lo siento’ translates to either ‘I feel it’ OR ‘I’m sorry (about it)’.

Obviously we’re going to focus on the latter translation in today’s lesson!

Lo siento’ is composed of the first-person present conjugation of the verb ‘sentir’ (‘siento’) and the NEUTER direct object pronoun ‘lo’ (which refers to the thing that you’re sorry about).

As such, it can actually be conjugated like a normal verb –

lo siento – I’m sorry

lo siente – She’s / He’s sorry

lo sentimos – We’re sorry

lo sienten – They’re sorry

There are also plenty of other ways to say ‘lo siento’, such as ‘de verdad, lo siento’, which means ‘I’m truly sorry’, or ‘discúlpame’ (‘forgive me’).

Let’s look at a quick example –

Un papá está molesto porque su hijo no limpió la casa

Papá – Te pedí que limpiaras la casa.

Hijo – De verdad, lo siento, se me olvidó.

Papá – Por favor, pon más atención.

A father is mad because his son forgot to clean the house

Dad – I asked you to clean the house.

Son – I’m truly sorry, I forgot.

Dad – Please pay more attention.

Here’s another example using ‘discúlpame’

Una amiga llegó tarde a la esta de otra amiga

Ana – Discúlpame, Pam, me tardé en encontrar un Uber.

 Pam – No te preocupes. Lo bueno es que pudiste venir.

A girl is late to her friend’s party

Ana – Forgive me, Pam, it took me ages to find an Uber.

Pam – Don’t worry. I’m just happy you came.

Ok, now you know what ‘lo siento’ means, let’s dive into how to respond!

No te preocupes – Don’t worry

No te preocupes’ is what you’d say if whatever it is that’s happened isn’t all too serious.

It literally translates to ‘don’t you worry’, but we’d obviously normally say ‘don’t worry’ in spoken English.

And what’s with the ‘te’*?

Well, ‘preocuparse’ is actually a reflexive verb, so it’s conjugated with a reflexive pronoun.

Also, if you’re speaking to someone you don´t know (particularly elderly people), you’ll need to use the formal ‘usted’ form; the response in these instances would be ‘no se preocupe’.

Example time!

Un extraño camina con prisa por la banqueta y te empuja

Extraño – ¡Lo siento, amigo!

Tú – ¡No te preocupes!

A stranger in a hurry bumps into you

Stranger – I’m sorry, bro!

You – Don’t worry!

Erika’s note – if you want to know everything about ‘te’ and, in particular, how it differs from ‘tu’, be sure to check out our article on tu’ vs ‘te.

No pasa nada – It doesn’t matter / No worries

You can think of ‘no pasa nada’ as an even more reassuring variant of ‘no te preocupes’.

It translates well to ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘it’s alright’ and is often used when the matter at hand hasn’t had any real adverse effect (of if you’re just super relaxed!).

Here’s an example –

Un niño derrama agua sobre la mesa por accidente

Niño – Lo siento, no fue mi intención.

Juana – No pasa nada. Vamos a limpiarlo.

A child spills water on the table by accident

Child – I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.

Juana – It’s alright. Let’s clean it up.

It can also be used ironically when we’re really, really hurt!

Una mujer olvidó su aniversario

Sandra – ¡Lo siento mucho, amor! Te lo voy a compensar.

Jorge – No pasa nada.

A woman forgot her anniversary

Sandra – I’m so sorry, love! I’ll make it up to you.

Jorge – It doesn’t matter.

Ouch! Sandra is in big trouble, Jorge wasn’t happy at all!

No hay pedo – No problem

Ah, the infamous ‘pedo’ strikes again.

Think of this response as a “lighter”, friendlier version of ‘no te preocupes’.  

The word ‘pedo’ or ‘fart’ is used a lot in Latin-America, especially in Mexico.

So, this one literally translates to ‘there’s no fart’

… but ‘pedo’ is also a synonym for the word ‘problem’. So, when you say ‘no hay pedo’, what you ACTUALLY mean is ‘no problem’ or ‘don’t worry’.

Just remember to only use it in VERY informal contexts!

Un chico que regresa de la tienda olvidó el pedido de su novia

Toño – ¡Se me olvidaron tus papitas! Lo siento, amor.

 Katy – No hay pedo, amor; mañana compro unas.

A guy forgot his girlfriend’s request from the store

Toño – I forgot your bag of chips! I’m sorry, babe.

Katy – Don’t worry, sweetcheeks; I’ll buy some tomorrow.

Nombre, yo lo siento – No, I’m sorry

This one’s super useful and also pretty interesting!

Although ‘nombre’ means ‘name’, in Latin America it’s common to hear the expression ‘no, hombre‘ (‘no, man’) contracted to ‘nombre’.

Nombre, yo lo siento‘ is the perfect way to respond if you think the blame should be shared!

Long story short, ‘nombre, yo lo siento means no, I’m sorry.

Dos hombres caminan por una banqueta y chocan entre sí

Hombre 1 – ¿Te pegué? ¡Lo siento! No fue mi intención.

Hombre 2 – Nombre, yo lo siento. Iba viendo mi celular.

Two men walk down a sidewalk and collide with each other

Man 1 – Did I hit you? I’m sorry! It wasn´t my intention.

Man 2 – No, I’m sorry. I was looking at my phone.

No es tu culpa – It’s not your fault

And what if the person apologizing wasn’t at fault?

Here comes ‘no es tu culpa’ ( or ‘it’s not your fault‘) to the rescue!

If you want to be a benevolent god and remove any shadow of doubt, I suggest that you use ‘no te preocupes‘ and ‘it’s not your fault’ together. In doing so, you’re saying ‘don’t worry, it’s not your fault’.

Note that there are certain situations in which this response may be considered too formal. For instance, if someone bumps into you on the street, ‘no es tu culpa’ might sound weird.

You’d probably say something like ‘no hay problema‘ or ‘no te apures’ instead.

Dos amigas se dan cuenta de que el pedido de Uber Eats está mal

Elena – Lore, ¡lo siento! No trajeron lo que tú pediste.

Lore – No te preocupes, no es tu culpa. Ahora marco a soporte.

Two friends realize their Uber Eats order is wrong

Elena – Lore, I’m sorry! They didn’t bring what you asked for.

Lore – Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. I’ll just call customer support.

Está bien, pero … – It’s ok, but …

If you’re looking for the middle ground between ‘no pasa nada‘ (‘no problem at all’) and ‘estoy molesto’ (‘I’m a bit annoyed’), this one’s probably your best bet.

You’d normally say ‘está bien, pero‘ and then explain how the situation in question has affected you negatively OR emphasize that you don´t want the person to do the same thing again!

Here are some examples –

Una mamá se enoja porque su hija no lavó la ropa

Hija – Sé que no lavé la ropa. Lo siento, ma. Me quedé estudiando.

Mamá – Está bien, cariño, pero te pido que me ayudes en la casa.

A mom gets mad because her daughter didn’t do the laundry

Daughter – I know I didn’t do the laundry. I’m sorry, mom. I was studying.

Mom – It’s okay, darling, but please do help me around the house.

Un hombre olvida el cumpleaños de su hermana

Hermano – Discúlpame por olvidar tu cumpleaños. Pensé que era el próximo mes.

Hermana – Está bien, pero sí me hizo sentir mal. No lo hagas de nuevo, por favor.

A man forgets his sister’s birthday

Brother – I’m sorry I forgot your birthday. I thought it was next month.

Sister – It’s fine, but it did upset me a bit. Please don’t forget again.

Estoy molesto – I’m a bit annoyed

If the situation made you feel bad – not absolutely outraged, but a little bit annoyed – you could always reply with ‘estoy molesto’.

This one translates to ‘I’m upset‘ or ‘I’m annoyed’ as the verb ‘molestar’ means to be slightly offended by something or somebody.

Un roomie se come el pastel de su compañero

Andrés – Oye, lo siento. No sabía que era tu pastel.

Santiago – Entonces no debiste tomarlo. Estoy molesto.

Andrés eats his roomie’s cake

Andrés – Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was your cake.

 Santiago – Then you shouldn’t have taken it. I’m a bit annoyed.

Final thoughts

And there you have it, a neat cheat sheet (cool rhyme, huh?) to help you properly respond to ‘lo siento’. Just make sure to take into consideration who you’re replying to (please don’t say ‘no hay pedo’ in a formal situation) AND how sorry you are …

… and, well, that’s really all there is to it!

Oh, and definitely shimmy along to our article on all the different ways to respond to ‘de dónde eres if you’d like to up your Spanish conversation game even further!

¡Hasta pronto!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

And some cheeky vids ...

What ya looking for?