10 Ways to Say I Don’t Know in German

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In order to be able to effectively communicate in German, knowing how to say I don’t know in German is key. This is especially true when you are just starting out on your German learning journey.

In the beginning, your tutor or friend may quiz you about how to say a certain word in German, and you likely won’t know. As a beginner, this is completely normal, and you’ll find the phrase “I don’t know”, or Ich weiß es nicht to be especially helpful.

Depending on the context, there may be better ways of saying I don’t know in German other than Ich weiß es nicht. We’ll go through them all in this post!

I Don’t Know in German at a Glance

German

English

Standard ways of saying I don’t know

Ich weiß es nicht.

I don’t know.

Das weiß ich nicht.

I don’t know that.

Casual ways of saying I don’t know

Da bin ich überfragt.

I have no clue.

Ich habe keine Ahnung.

I have no idea.

Kein Plan.

No idea.

Other German Expressions for I don’t know

Nicht dass ich wüsste.

Not as far as I know.

Wer weiß?

Who knows?

Woher soll ich das wissen?

How should I know?

Da fragst du den Falschen.

You are asking the wrong person.

Frag mich was Leichteres.

Ask me something easier.

All the Way to Say I Don’t Know in German

I don't know in German Ich weiß es nicht

Standard ways of saying I don’t know

Ich weiß es nicht

Ich weiß es nicht is the most simple and straightforward way of saying “I don’t know” in German. But just note that, weiß also means “white”.

German

Jonas: Wieviel Uhr ist es?
Julia: Ich weiß es nicht.

English

Jonas: What time is it?
Julia: I don’t know.

Read next: Negation in German – Difference Between Nein, Nicht and Kein

You can also enhance this phrase by adding adjectives between the es “it” and the nicht “not” such as leider “unfortunately”, überhaupt “not at all” or wirklich “really”.

German

  1. Ich weiß es leider nicht.
  2. Ich weiß es überhaupt nicht.
  3. Ich weiß es wirklich nicht.

English

  1. Unfortunately, I don’t know.
  2. I have no idea.
  3. I really don’t know.

Das weiß ich nicht

A common variation of the previous phrase is das weiß ich nicht which means “I don’t know that”. It’s the correct answer when you are asked about something specific.

German

Jonas: Weißt du wo Max ist?
Julia: Das weiß ich nicht. 

English

Jonas: Do you know where Max is?
Julia: I don’t know that. 

Casual ways of saying I don’t know

Da bin ich überfragt

Da bin ich überfragt literally translates to “I am over asked” but means something like “I have no clue”. You can use it in more casual settings. If you want to, you can follow it up by saying aber ich kann nachschauen which means “but I can look it up”.

German

Julia: Wo ist der Bahnhof?
Jonas: Da bin ich überfragt.

English

Julia: Where’s the train station?
Jonas: I have no clue. 

Ich habe keine Ahnung

Ich habe keine Ahnung means “I have no idea”. You can add absolut “absolutely” or gar keine “none at all”  in between habe “have” and keine “no”. This phrase is also often abbreviated to Keine Ahnung “no idea”. It is the least formal option in this list. 

German

  1. Ich habe absolut keine Ahnung.
  2. Ich habe keine gar keine Ahnung

English

  1. I have absolutely no idea.
  2. I have no idea.

Kein Plan

Kein Plan means “no plan” or “no idea” and is a colloquial expression used within a younger demographic. In text messages it is often abbreviated kp.

German

Julia: Was machst du heute Abend?
Jonas: Kein Plan. 

English

Julia: What are you doing tonight?
Jonas: No idea.

Other German Expressions for I don’t know

Nicht dass ich wüsste

If you are looking for a more vague option you can go with Nicht dass ich wüsste “not as far as I know”.

German

Julia: Sind noch Tomaten im Kühlschrank?
Jonas: Nicht dass ich wüsste.

English

Julia: Are there any tomatoes left in the fridge?
Jonas: Not as far as I know. 

Wer weiß?

For an even more vague and cryptic option try wer weiß which translates to “who knows”.

German

Julia: Wird es heute regnen?
Jonas: Wer weiss?

English

Julia: Will it rain today?
Jonas: Who knows?

Woher soll ich das wissen?

Be careful with this next option, Woher soll ich das wissen? “How should I know” can easily come across as a snippy, slightly disrespectful remark in German.

German

Julia: Ist Lisa noch zu Hause?
Jonas: Woher soll ich das wissen?

English

Julia: Is Lisa still at home?
Jonas: How should I know?

Da fragst du den Falschen

Da fragst du den Falschen “you are asking the wrong person” is a common informal expression you can use when you have no idea what the other person is talking about. If you are a woman you would say Da fragst du die Falsche.

German

Julia: Wie macht man Linzertorte?
Jonas: Da fragst du den Falschen.

English

Julia: How do you make Linzer cake (a typical German dessert)?
Jonas: You are asking the wrong person

Frag mich was Leichteres

Another informal expression that is similar to “I don’t know” is Frag mich was Leichteres which translates to “ask me something easier”.

German

Julia: Wo ist die Weihnachtsdeko?
Jonas: Frag mich was Leichteres.

English

Julia: Where is the Christmas decoration?
Jonas: Ask me something easier. 

Conclusion

Germans have countless ways of saying “I don’t know” and aren’t afraid to admit that they simply don’t know something. Younger generations tend to use a more informal language than older ones. If you don’t know and want to ask for help you can say Ich brauche Hilfe “I need help”, Kannst du es mir zeigen? “Can you show me” or Wie geht das? “How does it work?”. 

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