What would be a good way to express empathetic sorrow in Portuguese? For example, if my friend's puppy dies and it's not my fault I wouldn't say "Desculpe!" right? "Desculpar" would have a meaning closer to "remove the guilt." I'm looking for a word or phrase that means something similar to "lo siento" in Spanish—a word I can say in consolation and sympathy but doesn't imply that I am somehow responsible for the situation.
There are several ways of expressing your sympathy.
- "Sinto muito"
- "Sinto muito por você"
- "Lamento" (sounds formal)
- "Meus pêsames" (too strong for the death of a puppy. Used for people.)
- "Que pena!" ("seu gato morreu? Ah, que pena!!!)
- "Ah, que tristeza!"
Edit - As @Jorg B commented, "as minhas condolências" is also used. It's a bit formal, though.
You're right about "desculpe": it means forgive me, so it would be nonsensical in the situation you describe.
In addition to the phrases in Centaurus’ answer, there are some that, at least in Portugal, would be quite appropriate to express sympathy for a friend whose puppy has die or suffered injury:
Coitado, coitado do cachorrinho, coitadinho, pobrezinho, pobre cachorrinho.
These are more or less equivalent to poor little puppy. These phrases are quite informal, as informal as “ah, que pena” (what a pitty) or more so, and that’s what makes them especially appropriate when dealing with a friend: they sound more heart-felt than "sinto/lamento muito.” They wouldn´t be out of place in more formal settings either. They can be adapted to any pet or to your friend’s child, parent, etc. Now, coitado is an adjective, so you know, it is coitado/a/os/as as appropriate.
If your friend has suffered some setback instead, say, her car has broken down, you’re ordinarily not going to say “poor little car”. You may say, by increasing order of informality:
Que maçada! que aborrecimento! que chatice!”
Let me know if you require something more informal than chatice. These are more less equivalent to what a nuisance! how annoying! and you will sound as though you’re annoyed or upset in sympathy with your friend.
Now in these situations, demeanour says as much as words, but I reckon that’s the same in every language.