There might be many reasons regarding why you could want to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Especially beforehand when you’re quiet a beginner. Gift able come tell someone through speech that you don’t know what they’re saying have the right to save you from a lot of awkward body language.

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You’d think that many simple expressions in English would translate fluidly end to Japanese. However, there are many English words and also expressions that carry out not have specific equivalent in Japanese. Figuring the end the most suitable Japanese translation because that what you want to say can sometimes it is in a hassle. Like once you want to speak “good luck” to someone in Japanese for example.

Luckily though, once you want to say “I don’t know” in Japanese, it isn’t the complex! There space two key ways you express your absence of understanding in miscellaneous in Japanese. These room 知らない (shiranai) and also わからない (wakaranai).

In This ultimate Guide, I malfunction the an interpretation of わからない (wakaranai), 知らない (shiranai) and also discuss the differences in between them. No much longer will you lack a verbal solution when you have actually no idea around something in Japanese. Instead, if you’re lucky, you can even acquire a 日本語上手 (nihongo jouzu) come her way!

This overview is tailored because that beginners and advanced learners alike and goes past the limit of just just how to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese. I additionally cover associated expressions such as “I have no clue” or “I don’t get it” in Japanese. No issue the situation, official or casual, you’ll be equipped v the expertise of the most suitable means on just how to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese!

Let’s begin!


Table the Contents


I Don’t understand in JapaneseI Don’t know in JapaneseI Don’t understand What I have to Do in JapaneseI’m Not certain in Japanese

I Don’t recognize in Japanese

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

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

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

Therefore as soon as you speak 知らない (shiranai) in Japanese, you’re saying the you don’t have the wisdom or knowledge about something. 知らない (shiranai) is a an extremely general means to to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese, and you can also use the 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 understand that person.

That person might be anyone. Once you to speak it favor 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 someone you’re involved in conversation v is act something you’d never thought they would do. To express your excessive shock, you might say:

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

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

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

Essentially, as soon as you don’t have any kind of awareness or knowledge of a topic or thing, you have the right to use 知らない (shiranai) come express it.

A rapid thing around “I” and also “you” in Japanese… pronoun in Japanese are an extremely frequently omitted as soon as the context is clear. For this reason you’ll watch them lacking in the Japanese translations too.

I Don’t recognize in Polite Japanese

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

The polite type is a layout of speech that is scheduled for cases when you have to speak respectfully. These 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 you would usage 知らない (shiranai) when you desire to to express a absence 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 human that you had no info on the reality that it’s payday.

I Don’t know in Japanese

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

わからない (wakaranai) is the second of the two most usual expressions to say “I don’t know” in Japanese. Rather than just “I don’t know”, once 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 emotional matters. When you say わからない (wakaranai) you’re saying that you do the efforts to recognize something, however were unable to so you 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 have the right to say:

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

In both of this examples, the speaker is saying they don’t recognize something, yet in the paper definition of not being able to understand. Due to the fact that they don’t understand, despite their efforts they just don’t know.

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

During instances when you’ve tried come understand and establish a deeper link to a person’s feelings, yet are unable to, you can use わからない (wakaranai). Alternatively, if friend do know you have the right to use わかる (wakaru), the course.

気持ちいわかる。kimochi wakaru.I understand/know exactly 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 purely informational. When you have not heard/seen or read around a certain topic, you deserve to use 知らない (shiranai). It’s indicative the a lack of superficial information about something. Therefore, when you to speak 知らない (shiranai), you’re saying that you carry out not possess details or understanding on a topic.

Whereas わからない (wakaranai) reflects that you tried to know something yet were unable to. Making use of わからない (wakaranai) invokes a deeper definition and has a nuance that you tried to relate and also connect to the other person. 

There is an exception to these rules, and I think it’s worth stating 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 mutual above, you can think come say 知らない (shiranai). This is not have to wrong, it’s grammatically exactly actually. Yet I think native Japanese speakers would choose using わからない (wakaranai), or rather, the polite わかりません (wakarimasen) if speaking v a stranger. 

This is since わからない (wakaranai) conveys a lot softer “no, i don’t know” rather 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, although the speaker is questioning for info from you, saying 知らない (shiranai) comes throughout as a blunt “No, ns don’t know, why would certainly I?” type of answer.

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

This is similar to exactly how the Japanese protect against saying “no” straight to things. It’s in the society to be polite around your response to conserve the other persons face.

I Don’t recognize At all in Japanese

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

With all of these various ways to express that you don’t know or don’t know something, what about when you’re ~ above the other side that the spectrum.

That gift said, once you desire to say “I know” in Japanese, the most basic expression is 知ってる (shitteru). You may recall native the very first entry that this overview that the affirmative way to to speak “I know” in Japanese is the verb 知る (shiru). However, come say that naturally, we very first have to conjugate 知る (shiru) right into te-form. As soon as we do, it i do not care 知ってる (shitteru).

The factor we need to use 知ってる (shitteru) end 知る (shiru) is because 知ってる (shitteru) is the progressive kind of 知る (shiru). This is because, once we recognize something, it’s a consistent thing. We don’t simply know something for an instant and then forget. Once we say that we recognize something, we’re saying the we have actually (and will proceed to have) knowledge or information on a topic.

When we say 知ってる (shitteru) we’re speak that we possess information on the topic in ~ hand. We can likewise phrase it prefer 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 coming or not?

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

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What If i Don’t Know exactly 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 much more Japanese!

This brings us to the finish of this ultimate overview on just how to speak “I don’t know” in Japanese. If friend have any type of questions about anything covered/not covered here feel totally free to leave a comment or shooting me a message!

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

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