There might be numerous reasons as to why you could want to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Especially at an early stage when you’re tho a beginner. Being able to tell someone v speech the you don’t understand what they’re saying deserve to save girlfriend from a the majority of awkward body language.

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You’d think that many basic expressions in English would interpret fluidly over to Japanese. However, there are many English words and also expressions that carry out not have precise equivalent in Japanese. Figuring the end the most perfect Japanese translation for what you want to say deserve to sometimes be a hassle. Like when you want to to speak “good luck” to who in Japanese for example.

Luckily though, as soon as you want to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese, that isn’t that complex! There are two main ways girlfriend express your absence of knowledge 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 failure the an interpretation of わからない (wakaranai), 知らない (shiranai) and discuss the differences in between them. No much longer will you lack a verbal response when you have actually no idea around something in Japanese. Instead, if you’re lucky, you could even get a 日本語上手 (nihongo jouzu) come her way!

This guide is tailored because that beginners and advanced learners alike and goes beyond the limit of just how to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. I likewise cover related expressions such together “I have actually no clue” or “I don’t gain it” in Japanese. No issue the situation, officially or casual, you’ll be equipped through the understanding of the many suitable way on how to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese!

Let’s begin!


Table of Contents


I Don’t know in JapaneseI Don’t recognize in JapaneseI Don’t recognize What I need to Do in JapaneseI’m Not certain in Japanese

I Don’t know in Japanese

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

In most contexts, as soon as you have actually no clue about something, the ideal expression (and safest) you have the right to use 知らない (shiranai).

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

Therefore once you speak 知らない (shiranai) in Japanese, you’re saying the you don’t have the wisdom or knowledge around something. 知らない (shiranai) is a very general method to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese, and also you can even use it in regards to 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 can be anyone. When you to speak it prefer this, you’re speak you have minimal knowledge of the person, their personality etc.

An exciting use of 知らない (shiranai) deserve to occur during arguments. Say who you’re involved in conversation v is doing something you’d never thought they would do. Come express your extreme shock, you can say:

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

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

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

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

A quick thing about “I” and “you” in Japanese… pronouns in Japanese are really frequently omitted once the paper definition is clear. For this reason you’ll view them missing in the Japanese translations too.

I Don’t know in Polite Japanese

As Japanese is a polite language that supplies honorifics (keigo), you may need come conjugate 知らない (shiranai) come the polite type depending ~ above the situation.

The polite form is a style of speech that is reserved for cases when you need to speak respectfully. This include, however are not restricted to, conversations v your manager, teacher or strangers.

In the polite form, 知らない (shiranai) i do not care 知りません (shirimasen). You can use the the same means as friend would usage 知らない (shiranai) as soon as you desire to express a lack of knowledge 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? i didn’t know!

In this example, you’re telling the person that you had no details on the truth that it’s payday.

I Don’t know in Japanese

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

わからない (wakaranai) is the 2nd of the two most typical expressions come say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Quite than just “I don’t know”, once you usage 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 intellectual or emotional matters. When you speak わからない (wakaranai) you’re saying the you do the efforts to know something, however were can not to so friend 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 recognize what you’re saying.

Or, you can 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 speaker is speak they don’t know something, yet in the context of no being able to understand. Since they don’t understand, despite their initiatives they just don’t know.

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

During instances when you’ve tried come understand and also establish a deeper link to a person’s feelings, however are unable to, you deserve to use わからない (wakaranai). Alternatively, if girlfriend do recognize you can use わかる (wakaru), of course.

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

Difference in 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 also 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 can use 知らない (shiranai). It’s indicative that a lack of superficial information around something. Therefore, as soon as you to speak 知らない (shiranai), you’re saying the you perform not possess information or understanding on a topic.

Whereas わからない (wakaranai) shows that you tried to recognize something yet were can not to. Using わからない (wakaranai) invokes a deeper an interpretation and has actually a nuance that you tried come relate and also connect come the other person. 

There is an exception to this rules, and I think it’s worth discussing so friend don’t accidentally speak the wrong thing to someone.

If someone to be to questioning you, “hey is the bus stop about here?” because that instance… based on the explanations I common above, you might think to say 知らない (shiranai). This is not necessarily wrong, it’s grammatically exactly actually. Yet I think indigenous Japanese speaker would favor 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 due to the fact that わからない (wakaranai) conveys a lot softer “no, i don’t know” quite than 知らない (shiranai). Just saying 知らない (shiranai) have the right to come across as somewhat cold. In this situation, return the speak is questioning for information from you, speak 知らない (shiranai) comes across as a dull “No, i don’t know, why would certainly I?” type of answer.

Instead, making use of わからない (wakaranai) acts together a lot gentler negation the conveys something along the present of “I’m not as well sure, I’m not very acquainted through this area” sort of thing.

This is comparable to how the Japanese stop saying “no” directly to things. It’s in the culture to be polite around your response to save the various other persons face.

I Don’t recognize At all in Japanese

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

With every one of these different ways to express the you don’t understand or don’t recognize something, what around when you’re on the various other side of the spectrum.

That being said, once you desire to say “I know” in Japanese, the most general expression is 知ってる (shitteru). You might recall from the very first entry of this overview that the affirmative method 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) into te-form. As soon as we do, it i do not care 知ってる (shitteru).

The reason we need to use 知ってる (shitteru) over 知る (shiru) is since 知ってる (shitteru) is the progressive form of 知る (shiru). This is because, when we recognize something, it’s a constant thing. Us don’t just know something for an instant and then forget. Once we say that we understand something, we’re saying that we have actually (and will continue to have) understanding or information on a topic.

When we say 知ってる (shitteru) we’re saying that we possess information on the topic in ~ hand. We can additionally phrase it choose a question.

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

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

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What If ns Don’t Know just how To Study an ext 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 more Japanese!

This brings united state to the finish of this ultimate guide on how to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese. If friend have any questions about anything covered/not covered right here feel cost-free to leave a comment or shoot me a message!

Why not have a glance at my sources on just how to say assorted Japanese expressions in the type of ultimate guides!

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