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5 Mexican Spanish Phrases to…

Be Polite & Clearly Communicate Your Intentions 

As we go through our day-to-day life here in Mexico, there are a few important Spanish phrases that help us to be polite and respectful.

Maybe you need to get someone’s attention… “Excuse me”

Or you bump into someone lightly as you walk by them… “Sorry”

Or maybe someone is standing directly in front of the item you need at the grocery store. ”Oh. Excuse Me, I just need to get by”

In Spanish, and specifically here in Mexico, there are certain phrases help us to express these thoughts BUT they are completely different from the phrases we would say in English (and not even Google Translate gets them right!)

If you’re using Spanish phrases like: “Lo siento” or “Perdonáme”, keep reading because we will clarify these 5 key Spanish phrases that are indispensable in your daily life to communicate with respect.

1. Disculpe (Excuse Me)

Used to get someone’s attention

Whether you need to get your server’s attention or ask a store employee where a certain item is located in the store, the phrase you will want to use is: Disculpe (said like dis-school-pay).

When you say this word, it works like magic and the person you are trying to talk to will immediately turn their head. And they will likely reply to you with our next Spanish phrase…

2. Mande 

Used to indicate you are listening after being called

This phrase is very Mexican but it’s not slang. It is the most common way to answer someone who says ‘disculpe’ or when they call you.

  • You say ‘disculpe’ to a busy store worker. They turn around and say ‘Mande’ to indicate they are listening.
  • Dad is calling his son who is up in his room, “Jose”. Jose replies “Mande” to tell his dad that he is listening.

Just note that you may also hear: ‘Dígame’ or ‘Dime’ which literally means ‘Tell me’. These phrases indicate the person is listening and for you to speak.

Mande can also be used to ask someone to repeat.  Learn more about that specific use along with some other useful phrases here: 10 Phrases you NEED to be Using in Everyday Situations

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With these 10-minute quick lessons, you will learn how to:

Asking for items at shops     

Meeting & greeting in Spanish

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  Speaking with a Great Accent

With these 10-minute quick lessons, you will learn how to:

Asking for items at shops      Meeting & greeting in Spanish

Ordering food & drinks like a local    Speaking with a Great Accent

3. Con Permiso (with Permission)

Used to indicate you need someone to move or you are trying to get by

If you need to walk between two people, squeeze by people while trying to get off a crowded bus, or politely ask them to ‘move’ so that you can grab an item from the shelf, the best phrase to use is ‘con permiso’.

The phrase ‘con permiso’ means ‘with permission’ in Spanish. It can be shortened to ‘permiso and works exactly the same.

This is the time where you might be thinking… What happens if I say ‘disculpe’ here? Could that work? 

Remember, ‘disculpe is used to get someone’s attention so you can speak to them. Whereas ‘permiso’ or ‘con permiso’ indicates you are asking permission to get by, permission to walk through two people having a conversation on the street, or asking someone to move out of the way.

For all of these phrases, it’s best to think about them according to the situation and what the word accomplishes rather than translating it.

4. Perdón

Used to apologize for a not-so-serious offense

If you have been using ‘Lo siento’ for ALL situations as a way to apologize, pay special attention to this explanation.

In English, the word ‘sorry’ can be used for pretty much everything from interrupting someone (sorry, go ahead) to giving condolences to someone for the loss of a loved one (sorry for your loss)

In Spanish, there are phrases that help us express different intensity levels based on how ‘sorry’ we really feel. It is important to choose the right one otherwise, it might sound a little heavy or out of context.

For light situations such as…

  • Dropping a business card someone just handed you
  • Bumping into someone accidentally as you walk by

The appropriate word to use is ‘Perdón’. If the situation is a little bit more serious, you will need the next phrase on the list.

 the5. Lo Siento

Used to apologize for things you really feel bad about

The phrase ‘Lo siento’ actually means ‘I feel it’. It shows empathy and recognition for the mistake you made or the situation the other person is going through.

‘Lo siento’ is appropriate for heavier situations like…

  • Bumping into someone and actually knocking them over on the ground
  • Really messing up at work or forgetting something important
  • Offering condolences for a loss

One more phrase related to forgiveness is ‘perdonáme’. This is typically used to ask someone to forgive you.

  • Apologizing to a partner after an argument
  • Apologizing to your boss for the huge mistake you made on the project

If you learned something from this article, you’ll love our video lessons in our 7-day Spanish Jumpstart (it’s free to join!)

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