There could be numerous reasons regarding why you can want come say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Especially early on when you’re still a beginner. Being able to tell someone with speech that you don’t understand what they’re saying deserve to save friend from a lot of awkward human body language.

You are watching: How do you say i don t know in japanese

You’d think that many an easy expressions in English would translate fluidly end to Japanese. However, there space many English words and also expressions that carry out not have precise equivalent in Japanese. Figuring out the most an ideal Japanese translation for what you desire to say deserve to sometimes be a hassle. Like once you want to speak “good luck” to someone in Japanese for example.

Luckily though, when you desire to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese, it isn’t the complex! There space two main ways friend express your absence of understanding in something in Japanese. These space 知らない (shiranai) and わからない (wakaranai).

In This can be fried Guide, I breakdown the definition of わからない (wakaranai), 知らない (shiranai) and also discuss the differences in between them. No longer will you absence a verbal response when you have actually no idea around something in Japanese. Instead, if you’re lucky, you could even gain a 日本語上手 (nihongo jouzu) come your way!

This guide is tailored for beginners and advanced learners alike and goes beyond the limit of just how to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. I additionally cover related expressions such as “I have no clue” or “I don’t obtain it” in Japanese. No issue the situation, official or casual, you’ll it is in equipped with the understanding of the many suitable method on how to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese!

Let’s begin!


Table of Contents


I Don’t understand in JapaneseI Don’t recognize in JapaneseI Don’t know What I should Do in JapaneseI’m Not certain in Japanese

I Don’t understand in Japanese

I Don’t Know.知らない。shiranai.https://stclairdrake.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/知らない.mp3

In many contexts, when you have no clue around something, the best expression (and safest) you deserve to use 知らない (shiranai).

知らない (shiranai) is the negative type of the verb 知る (shiru), which method “to know” in Japanese. Interestingly, the kanji, 知, which is provided in both verbs means “wisdom” or “knowledge” in Japanese.

Therefore when you say 知らない (shiranai) in Japanese, you’re saying that you don’t have actually the wisdom or knowledge around something. 知らない (shiranai) is a very general method to say “I don’t know” in Japanese, and you can also use the in regards come people.

For instance:

その人をあまり知らない。sono hito wo amari shiranai.I don’t really know that person.

That person could be anyone. As soon as you say it favor this, you’re speak you have minimal knowledge of the person, their personality etc.

An exciting use the 知らない (shiranai) can occur during arguments. Say who you’re engaged in conversation through is doing something you’d never ever thought they would do. To express your excessive shock, you could say:

あなたをもう知らない!anata wo mou shiranai!I’ve no idea who you room anymore!

You can also use the in regards come objects and other things. Say i were come ask girlfriend if you know what The Legend the Zelda is for example…

それをらない。sore wo shiranai.I don’t understand what that is.

Essentially, as soon as you don’t have any kind of awareness or understanding of a object or thing, you can use 知らない (shiranai) to express it.

A quick thing around “I” and “you” in Japanese… pronouns in Japanese are very frequently omitted when the context is clear. Thus you’ll check out them absent in the Japanese translations too.

I Don’t understand in Polite Japanese

As Japanese is a polite language that offers honorifics (keigo), you might need to conjugate 知らない (shiranai) come the polite kind depending ~ above the situation.

The polite form is a layout of speech that is booked for situations when you must speak respectfully. These include, however are not minimal to, conversations v your manager, teacher or strangers.

In the polite form, 知らない (shiranai) becomes 知りません (shirimasen). You can use that the same method as girlfriend would usage 知らない (shiranai) when you want to refer a absence of expertise on a topic.

今日は給料日ですか?知りませんでした!kyou ha kyuuryouhi desu ka? shirimasen deshita!Today is payday? ns didn’t know!

In this example, you’re telling the human that you had no information on the reality that it’s payday.

I Don’t know in Japanese

I Don’t Understand.わからない。wakaranai.
https://stclairdrake.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/わからない.mp3

わからない (wakaranai) is the 2nd of the 2 most common expressions come say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Fairly than just “I don’t know”, as soon as you use わからない (wakaranai), the an interpretation is closer come “I don’t understand.”

Consequently, わからない (wakaranai) is reserved for mostly pundit or emotionally matters. When you say わからない (wakaranai) you’re saying that you do the efforts to know something, yet were unable to so girlfriend don’t know.

あなたが言ってることわからない。anata ga itteru koto wakaranai.I don’t understand what you’re saying.

Or, you deserve to say:

日本語がわからない。nihongo ga wakaranai.I don’t know/understand Japanese.

In both of these examples, the speak is speak they don’t recognize something, yet in the context of not being able to understand. Due to the fact that they don’t understand, despite their efforts they simply don’t know.

わからない (wakaranai), and the affirmative kind わかる (wakaru), definition to “understand” in Japanese has a nuance that the trying come relate to the speaker and their words/feelings.

During instances when you’ve tried come understand and also establish a deeper connection to a person’s feelings, however are can not to, you deserve to use わからない (wakaranai). Alternatively, if friend do understand you deserve to use わかる (wakaru), of course.

気持ちいわかる。kimochi wakaru.I understand/know how you feel.

Difference between わからない (wakaranai) & 知らない (shiranai)

Let’s summarise the differences between わからない (wakaranai) and 知らない (shiranai).

知らない (shiranai) is completely informational. When you have not heard/seen or read around a particular topic, you deserve to use 知らない (shiranai). It’s indicative of a absence of superficial information around something. Therefore, as soon as you say 知らない (shiranai), you’re saying the you execute not possess info or expertise on a topic.

Whereas わからない (wakaranai) mirrors that you tried to know something but were can not to. Utilizing わからない (wakaranai) invokes a deeper an interpretation and has actually a nuance the you tried to relate and also connect come the various other person. 

There is an exception to these rules, and also I think it’s worth pointing out so you don’t accidentally say the wrong point to someone.

If someone were to ask you, “hey is the bus stop roughly here?” for instance… based on the explanations I common above, you might think come say 知らない (shiranai). This is not necessarily wrong, it’s grammatically correct actually. But I think indigenous Japanese speakers would like using わからない (wakaranai), or rather, the polite わかりません (wakarimasen) if speaking through a stranger. 

This is because わからない (wakaranai) conveys a much softer “no, i don’t know” rather than 知らない (shiranai). Just saying 知らない (shiranai) can come across as rather cold. In this situation, back the speak is asking for details from you, saying 知らない (shiranai) comes throughout as a blunt “No, ns don’t know, why would I?” type of answer.

Instead, using わからない (wakaranai) acts as a much gentler negation that conveys something follow me the lines of “I’m not as well sure, I’m not really acquainted with this area” sort of thing.

This is similar to exactly how the Japanese avoid saying “no” straight to things. It’s in the society to be polite about your solution to save the various other persons face.

I Don’t understand At all in Japanese

*
*
*
*
*
*

I know.
知ってる。shitteru.https://stclairdrake.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/知ってる.mp3

With every one of these different ways come express that you don’t know or don’t know something, what around when you’re on the other side that the spectrum.

That being said, as soon as you desire to speak “I know” in Japanese, the most general expression is 知ってる (shitteru). You might recall from the first entry that this guide that the affirmative way to to speak “I know” in Japanese is the verb 知る (shiru). However, to say the naturally, we very first have to conjugate 知る (shiru) right into te-form. Once we do, it i do not care 知ってる (shitteru).

The factor we need to use 知ってる (shitteru) over 知る (shiru) is since 知ってる (shitteru) is the progressive kind of 知る (shiru). This is because, when we understand something, it’s a constant thing. Us don’t simply know something for an instant and then forget. As soon as we say that we understand something, we’re saying that we have actually (and will proceed to have) expertise or information on a topic.

When we say 知ってる (shitteru) we’re speak that us possess information on the topic in ~ hand. We can likewise phrase it like a question.

彼が来るかどうか知ってる?kara ga kuru kadouka shitteru?Do you know if he’s comes or not?

To speak “I know” official in Japanese, use 知っています (shitteimasu).

See more: How Long Does It Take To Bike 30 Miles A Bad Idea?: Cycling How Long Does It Take To Bike 30 Miles

What If ns Don’t Know exactly how To Study more Japanese!

どうやってもっと日本語の勉強ができるかわからない!
douyatte motto nihongo no benkyou ga dekiruka wakaranai!I don’t know how to study much more Japanese!

This brings united state to the finish of this ultimate overview on just how to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. If girlfriend have any questions about anything covered/not covered right here feel totally free to leaving a comment or shoot me a message!

Why not have actually a glance at my resources on just how to say miscellaneous Japanese expression in the form of can be fried guides!

I have likewise launched a new resource – interaction Japanese eLearning PDFs. They’re reading practices free because that you come use.