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How to Tell Someone You are Embarrassed in Spanish

Updated on December 15, 2012

To tell someone that you are embarrassed in Spanish, you will most likely want to use dar pena. For example:

  • Me da pena. I'm embarrassed.
  • Le da pena. He/she is embarrassed.
  • ¡Qué pena! How embarrassing!

Saying that you're embarrassed in Spanish happens to be a common false cognate that trips up beginner and intermediate Spanish speakers alike. Sometimes it's easy to guess how to say something in Spanish because it sounds very similar to English. For instance, comunicación means communication, just like it sounds. However, there are also a number of false cognates, or words that sound similar to each other but actually have different meanings, to be aware of when speaking Spanish.

"Emarazado" is one of those tricky false cognates and does NOT mean embarrassed. You actually could be making an embarrassing mistake if you use "embarazado" when you're wanting to say "embarrassed," as in our missionary friend's story recounted below.

How NOT to Say "Embarrassed" in Spanish

There is a funny, and true, story of a young missionary who was suddenly called on by the Bishop of the church, one Sunday morning, to get up and speak in front of the congregation. The church was Spanish-speaking and the missionary had only been learning Spanish for a few months, so he was nervous to have to practice his Spanish in front of more than 100 people.

Reluctantly, the young man stood up to the pulpit and, declaring his nervousness to the church attendees, said,

Estoy embarazado por la culpa del Obispo.

What he wanted to say was, "I'm embarrassed and it's the Bishop's fault." When what he really said was, "I'm pregnant and it's the Bishop's fault."

After reading this story I bet you won't make the mistake of using embarazado when you want to tell someone that you're "embarrassed."

How to Say "Embarrassed" in Spanish

The word "embarrassed" can be translated into Spanish as apenado or penoso. However, the best way to tell someone that you are embarrassed is by using dar pena. Me da pena literally translates to "it gives me embarrassment." Me da pena is the most appropriate way to say "I am embarrassed" in Spanish. You could also say ¡Qué pena! for "How embarrassing!"

You can also use the word vergüenza to express embarrassment, though it comes off a little stronger than pena, more like shame. You grammatically use vergüenza as you do pena. For example in a sentence, you might say, me da vergüenza.

"Vacunar" means "to vaccinate" in Spanish, not to "vacuum"!
"Vacunar" means "to vaccinate" in Spanish, not to "vacuum"! | Source

Other Common Word Mix-Ups in Spanish

  • Actualmente means "at present" or "currently," not "actually."
  • Afección usually means a medical condition, like "afliction," not "affection."
  • Asistir means "to attend" not "to assist."
  • Balde does not mean "bald" but "bucket."
  • Billón means "trillion." To say a billion in Spanish, you say mil milliones.
  • Capable doesn't exist in Spanish. Use capaz to say "capable."
  • Carpeta means "porfolio," not "carpet." Instead, use alfombra.
  • Decepción means "disappointment," not "deceit" or "deceptive."
  • Excitado translates to "aroused." Use emocionado for "excited."
  • Éxito means "success," not "exit."
  • Intoxicado doesn't work for "drunk." Rather, native Spanish-speakers would take it to mean "poisoned." Use borracho instead.
  • Introducir never works for introducing people. Instead, use presentar.
  • Molestar means "to bother" or "annoy," not "to molest."
  • Pena means "embarrassment" or "sorrow," not pain. Use dolor for pain.
  • Receta is a prescription or recipe, not a receipt. To say receipt in Spanish, use nota or recibo.
  • Sopa means "soup" while jabón means "soap."
  • Soportar doesn't mean "to support" and is actually most frequently used in the negative to mean "can't stand."
  • Últimamente means "recently" not "ultimately."
  • Vacunar means to "vaccinate" not "to vacuum." If you want to say "to vacuum," use aspirar.


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    • Jenna Estefan profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenna Estefan 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Oh, hahah! That's probably why I couldn't find it when I Googled it!

    • Lwelch profile image

      Lena Welch 

      7 years ago from USA

      Dentist is one slight difference from a curse word... easy to mess up. I can never remember which is which. For this reason I have elected to never need a filling :) Okay, not really... but it can be a very bad mix up.

    • Jenna Estefan profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenna Estefan 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Lwelch- Now I have to look up how not to say dentist in sign language...

      OanaBoteanu - hilarious! I guess making some "embarrassing" mistakes is all part of learning a new language.

      Thank you for your comments!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This a great hub. I speak Spanish fluently (I lived and studied in Spain for a few years) and yet sometimes I still find myself falling into the trap of translating 'literally'.

      My funniest story with this is about sparkling water. The Spanish call it 'agua con gas'. They also call petrol- gasolina, which confused me a little at the beginning.In my second day in Spain I walked into a shop and asked the lady for 'agua con gasolina' :D

      I laugh about it to this date :D:D

      Thanks for this hub, Voting UP

    • Lwelch profile image

      Lena Welch 

      7 years ago from USA

      We talked about that false cognate when I took Spanish lessons a million years ago. If you ever do a sign language hub you can conquer how not to say dentist....


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