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Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

which is the correct meaning? 2008/5/24 18:56
i read from some webby that wakaranai means i don't know,
but yet my friend told me that wakaranai actually means i don't understand and shiranai means i don't know.
which is then the correct one?

then if wakaranai really means i don't understand,
is this sentence "Dore ni shitara iika wakaranai." still correct?
by eileen  

wakaranai and shiranai 2008/5/25 09:11
The words wakaranai and shiranai don't correspond exactly to the English words "I don't know" and "I don't understand", there is a lot of overlap. Sometimes wakaranai means "I don't know", and sometimes it means "I don't understand".

For example, if someone asked you "What is the capital of Estonia?" and you weren't sure, you would say "wakaranai" in Japanese, so in this case it means "I don't know".

However if someone spoke to you in really fast Tohoku dialect, you would also say "wakaranai", but in this case in English you would say "I don't understand". So wakaranai can be translated as both "don't know" and "don't understand" in English, depending on the situation.

Are you following me here? I know it's a bit complicated, I still confuse the words occasionally.

As for "shiranai", that is more like "I don't know of/ about that thing/ person". If someone asked you "Do you know Takeshi Yamada?" and you have never met/ heard of him, you would answer "shiranai", i.e. "I don't know him".

Did that make sense? One of the tricky things about Japanese is that often words/ phrases don't correspond directly to a single English word/ phrase, and vice versa- this is one of those cases.

Maybe someone else can give some more examples if you're not sure yet.

by Sira rate this post as useful

Wakaranai vs. Wakarimasen 2008/5/25 12:49
Do these two words then mean the same thing (and the same with shiranai and shirimasen)?
by Maverick2008 rate this post as useful

same meaning 2008/5/25 13:12
"Wakaranai" and any verb with that ending is the plain form, used in more casual speech.

"Wakarimasen" and any verb with the "masen" ending is the polite form.

If I am chatting with my friends I usually say "wakaranai" or "shiranai",
but if I am talking to people I don't know, people older than me, in a work environment etc. It is better to use the polite form of the verb or another polite way of expressing it.

by Sira rate this post as useful

:D 2008/5/25 13:35
thanks a lot! you've been a great help sira. :D
by eileen rate this post as useful

Just to add... 2008/5/25 15:18
True, there is no exact match between the languages :) The difference between "wakaranai" (the original form of the verb is "wakaru") and "shiranai" ("shiru") seem to correspond to
Spanish verbs "saber" and "conocer," both of which would be translated in English as "to know," but in different nuances, I've read somewhere. If you happen to know Spanish, please check it out.

- "conocer" is more of "to know (of someone, of something, or their existance)," so if you asked "Conoces (do you know) Tom?" That means "Do you know of this person called Tom?"
- "saber" is more of "to know well/to have a grasp of (someone/something)," so if you asked "Sabes (do you know) Tom?" that would be more like "Do you know Tom well?," so in response you might say, "Yes, he and I have been friends for over 10 years," meaning "I have a good grasp of Tom."

So... your example of "Dore ni shitara ii ka wakaranai," yes, it is correct, you "don't know/don't have a grasp on which one to go with."
by AK rate this post as useful

other languages 2008/5/25 15:45
That is a good example AK, I was also thinking of "saber" and "conocer" when I was writing the above, or "savoir" and "connaitre" in French.
by Sira rate this post as useful

o-o 2008/5/25 20:12
ahaha. everyone is so good at jap; makes me feel kind of stupid. hahaha. but oh well, im learning. (:
by eileen rate this post as useful

studying Japanese 2008/5/25 20:59
Don't worry too much! AK is a native speaker, and I've been learning Japanese for 20 years and have lived in Japan for 10, and still my Japanese is far from perfect, so no need to be hard on yourself- enjoy your studies!
by Sira rate this post as useful

that's right 2008/5/25 21:08
Hi Eileen, I *am* Japanese, and I used to teach the language to English speakers before :) Don't get discouraged, I hope that you continue to enjoy learning!! Studying is supposed to be fun :)
by AK rate this post as useful

o-o hajime mashite! 2008/5/26 03:12
what's with the "*am*" eh? haha. i won't stop learning jap, i will visit there one day with fluent japanese! xD
by eileen rate this post as useful

... 2008/5/28 11:21
shiraneenara omeera wo shitsuke daze..
by Not ur Jesus rate this post as useful

careful with abbreviations 2008/5/28 22:59
Uh, Eileen, if you do want to visit Japan one day, better stop using the word "Jap" now, as it is considered offensive (it has associations with World War 2)- just some friendly advice.
by Sira rate this post as useful

gomen ne. 2008/5/29 00:42
O-O oh gosh. :X
sorry. no offence people.
by eileen rate this post as useful

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