How would you say, "I was sorry..."

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Hello!

First time poster, let me know if I should include more info:

Let's say I was writing a sort of script for a police interrogation in which a woman had gotten her watch stolen. Joey aka José, the suspect under the heat, is trying to express his regret that the watch was stolen. (But of course, he didn't steal it.)

How would he say to the officer,

"I was sorry to hear she lost her watch."

Should the sorry be imperfect past tense? Past tense at all? Ayúdame!

3176 views
updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by davidnathancox

7 Answers

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Well, I would translate 'I'm sorry to hear' into 'Siento escuchar', and my wife tells me that we simply would say 'Siento (mucho) que (ella) haya perdido el (su) reloj' (with haya).

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by Pablo_
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"Cuando ellos me [b]lo dijeron, sen oír que ella perdió su reloj..."[/b]

Thanks lazarus

(If it still doesn't seem like I got the point, let me know : )

Your story is about the point at which she felt sorry, and that's it (I think). You are using impefect, so I expect to hear how I felt while he was feeling sorry; how long it lasted, what happened in the meantime,...).

While we are speaking of verb tenses, why do I keep thinking that in English it should be:

When they told [it to] me, I was sorry to hear that she had lost her watch.

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by 0074b507
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"Cuando ellos me [b]lo dijeron, sen oír que ella perdió su reloj..."[/b]

Thanks lazarus

(If it still doesn't seem like I got the point, let me know : )

Your story is about the point at which she felt sorry, and that's it (I think). You are using impefect, so I expect to hear how I felt while he was feeling sorry; how long it lasted, what happened in the meantime,...).

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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I see, I see. One word is not going to express both what he felt then and also in the present. I don't know where I got the idea!

I think the sentence will keep its suspense and end up looking like this:

When they told me, I was sorry to hear that she lost her watch...

"Cuando ellos me dijeron, sentía oír que ella perdió su reloj..."

Thanks lazarus

(If it still doesn't seem like I got the point, let me know : )

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by davidnathancox
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Mmmm... I think I didn't explain myself clearly. Let's start all over again:

You say in English 'I was sorry to hear she lost her watch.'. Question: Are you still sorry? Answer: No one knows, because it cannot be inferred from the statement. You don't know in English, and you don't know in Spanish. Neither language clarifies this point.

Now, if we go back to the point where you had these feelings,... do you want your audience to stop and think how did you feel THEN, or you just want to inform that you felt sorry then before you got over it? Preterite implies the end of an action; imperfect halts it to maintain the tension of the moment.

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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Thank you!

Very clear and useful explanation (especially of why the "imperfect" is called such. It's certainly going to help me later!)

I think I want the speaker to be saying that he felt sorry then and still feels sorry now. How can I carry that sentiment into the present'

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by davidnathancox
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Hola, David:

You want to use imperfect if you want your audience to see how you were feeling at that time, but you don't want them to know how you felt later, or you just want to hold on to that feeling, and continue talking about that moment while the feeling was still alive, maybe to contemplate the events that took place while you were still feeling sorry about it. That's why it is called imperfect. Write "sentía", and no one will know when or how your feelings changed afterwards until you mention it, because this tense is used to maintain the story in suspense.

Use preterite ("sentí") if you want to describe a period of time in the past after it was over, i.e. you had that feeling then, and that was it; finished: you reached a point at which it no longer mattered. This is the tense that you are more likely to require here, but it depends on what you want.

updated JUN 21, 2009
posted by lazarus1907