Desculpe vs Desculpa and their uses in conversation

Hi all. As a beginner I’ve recently learned desculpe (excuse me) and desculpa (sorry). So far, the lessons I have don’t show extensive examples of how to use these. Based on their meanings, I want to know if I could use them in the following scenarios:

NOTE: While I know the answer to some, I’m listing all possibilities I know of, so as to help others who read this topic. Also, treat the below as 2 independent sections that have nothing to do with each other.


  • Excuse me, do you know where the bathroom is?
  • Please excuse me from the table.
  • Saying “excuse me” after burping.
  • Saying “excuse me” when trying to get through a crowded area.


  • Sorry, do you know where the bathroom is?
  • Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.
  • Sorry for messing your drink.
  • Mom: Did you eat the cake? Me: Sorry.

The above lines demonstrate our typical lingo in English here in South Africa, so I’m trying to connect the dots as best as I can. If anyone could advise which of the above statements are correct and if wrong, how to correct them.

Many thanks in advance.


I don’t have a helpful reply. I am just also curious. Desculpe and desculpa seem mostly interchangeable if you use it in these contexts. Did you mean to write that they are both valid for asking directions (ie to the bathroom)

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Hi Nicole. I was referencing each one independently vs using them interchangeably. I suppose I’m asking 2 questions in one topic if that makes sense?


Throwing something else into the mix here…

I thought desculpe is more formal (o senhor, a senhora, você) and desculpa is informal (tu).
I’m intrigued now to see what the answer is!


And how does Com Licensa fit in to all this?

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This is only half true :slight_smile: They both mean “sorry” by definition (desculpe more formal and desculpa more informal, like @Jeremy said), but both can also be used in the sense of “excuse me” in some contexts, again, with the same respective levels of formality. For other contexts, com licença (excuse me) or perdão (pardon me) are more appropriate, and I’ll use your examples to demonstrate when to use each.

Personally, I don’t like the use of “Perdão” for anything other than inconvenient bodily noises, haha. In that particular case, common usage made it very normal. In other contexts, it sounds a bit too fancy, a bit too apologetic… I don’t know. But you’ll hear it all.


A brilliant response thanks Josepth. This really gives broad context to the use of these words/terms :clap:


Many-many thanks @Joseph! I am always getting the various usages mixed up.

But can “desulpa” also be used as a noun, rather than as an informal method for saying “excuse me”? As in “Peço (or Pedia) tu (or seu) desulpa” - I ask for your forgiveness/forgive me, or “esta razão só era uma desculpa para a outra” - this reason was only an excuse for the other one.



Yes, sure, you can use it like that. Just a correction: it’s just “Peço desculpa” :slight_smile:


These kinds of articles add so much value, it’s amazing how learning material lacks this and only focuses on 1-2 examples at best, which are usually the same scenarios as well.