How to Say “I Messed Up” in Spanish: Formal and Informal Ways

Learning how to admit your mistakes and apologize in another language is an excellent way to show humility and respect. In Spanish, there are several different expressions you can use to convey that you have made a mistake and want to acknowledge it. Depending on the level of formality of the situation, you can choose between formal and informal ways to say “I messed up” in Spanish.

1. Formal Ways to Say “I Messed Up”

When you need to apologize formally in Spanish, especially in professional or serious situations, it’s important to use formal language that shows respect and humility. Here are a few common expressions you can use:

“Cometí un error.” (I made a mistake.)

This is a simple and straightforward way to admit your mistake formally. It can be used in various contexts, such as in a professional setting or when apologizing to someone in a position of authority.

“Pido disculpas por mi error.” (I apologize for my mistake.)

Adding the phrase “pido disculpas” emphasizes your sincere apology in a formal manner. This phrase is particularly appropriate when apologizing to someone senior or in a professional environment.

“Lamento profundamente mi equivocación.” (I deeply regret my mistake.)

If you want to express a stronger sense of regret and demonstrate genuine remorse, this phrase is an excellent choice. It conveys a deeper understanding of the impact of your mistake and is suitable for more serious situations.

2. Informal Ways to Say “I Messed Up”

Informal situations, such as among friends or family, allow for a more relaxed and casual approach when admitting a mistake. Here are a few informal expressions commonly used in Spanish:

“Metí la pata.” (I messed up.)

This informal expression is widely used among friends and family. It literally means “I put my foot in it,” suggesting that you made a blunder or error. It conveys a light-hearted tone when admitting your mistake.

“La cagué.” (I screwed up.)

Keep in mind that this phrase contains strong language and should only be used in very informal situations. It is an expressive way to acknowledge a significant mistake among close friends or in a casual environment.

“Perdona, me equivoqué.” (Sorry, I was wrong.)

This phrase is suitable for admitting smaller mistakes and asking for forgiveness in an informal context. It is a more general way to apologize for your error without using explicit expressions like “messed up” or “screwed up.”

3. Regional Variations

While Spanish is spoken across various countries with regional variations, the expressions mentioned above are widely understood throughout the Spanish-speaking world. However, it’s important to note that specific regional variations may exist. For instance:

  • In some Latin American countries, “metí la pata” can also be expressed as “metí la pucha” or “metí la pifia.”
  • In Spain, you might hear “la he liado” or “la he pifiado” instead of “la cagué” to express having made a significant mistake.

These slight regional variations add flavor to the language and provide cultural nuances, but they are not essential to conveying the message of admitting your error. The expressions mentioned earlier will work effectively in most Spanish-speaking countries.


Learning how to admit your mistakes and say “I messed up” in Spanish is a valuable skill when communicating with Spanish speakers. By using the appropriate expression, whether formal or informal, you can show respect and humility while effectively conveying your acknowledgment of the mistake. Remember to consider the level of formality, the context of the situation, and the relationship with the person to whom you’re apologizing. Apologizing is a universal act of humility, and doing so in another language demonstrates a genuine effort to connect and communicate.

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