Over the past year or so I’ve noticed a strange colloquial response in America from those who claim a Latin American culture and heritage.

The phrase — “I don’t blame you” — seems to be a
universal response to any statement made, but I’m not exactly certain
of its meaning and perhaps you can educate me.
Here’s one example from a local deli:

Me: I’m taking a break to have some coffee.
Latin American Friend: I don’t blame you.

Here’s an example in a university classroom:

Me: I’m sorry, I can’t give you financial support for the Fall semester.
Latin American Student: I don’t blame you.

Here’s another from a travel agency:

Me: I’d like to take a vacation to Arizona.
Latin American Travel Agent: I don’t blame you.

Now here are my questions:

  1. What does “blame” have to do with anything?
  2. Is “I don’t blame you” a genuine human response — or is it an automatically required cultural reply?
  3. When is “I don’t blame you” an inappropriate comment on a statement?
  4. What is the Caucasian equivalent of “I don’t blame you” in colloquial slang?

Thank you for your help!


  1. Hi David!
    maybe, when it’s employed within a definite context and not completely non-sequitur, it’s long form for “I understand”.
    saying ‘I understand’ would be too intimate among relative strangers, so it’s replaced by a phrase that’s moderately flippant (like you said, ‘what does blame have to do with it?’) and doesn’t have any sharp edges.
    i suppose, the phrase also seems to imply that the speaker is non-hostile, and is therefore meant to put you at ease.

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