How to say ‘I don’t know’ in Russian

Long time no see 🙂

It’s a short lesson, where I’ll show you some easy ways to say “I don’t know” in Russian. As you might know, one simple phrase in Russian can be spoken in many different ways. For example:

(Я) не знаю. [Ya ni znayu] – I don’t know.

Не знаю я. – same meaning but mostly used when you are annoyed. For example, when someone
asks you the same thing over and over again. In such case we usually add “да” in the beginning.

Когда она придет? – When will she come?
Не знаю. – I don’t know.
Вечером? – In the evening?
Возможно. – Maybe.
А во сколько? – At what time?
Да не знаю я! – I don’t know!

Note that word order can be quite tricky. “Не знаю я” sounds absolutely okay, but you can’t say “знаю я не”, “я знаю не”. You should put “не” before the verb in this case. Or, before the noun (pronoun) if it’s what you want to deny. “Не я знаю” is possible but quite rare. It can be used if you want to say that it’s NOT YOU who knows something, it’s other person who does.

Read also: How to say ‘How are you?’ in Russian

Other ways to say “I don’t know”

Okay, the easiest way we’ve just learned. What about others? Here’s the list with translation:

Откуда мне знать? – lit. Where can I know this from? ( = it’s impossible from me to know it from somewhere).

Понятия не имею. – I have no idea (понятие – concept, idea, definition).

Не представляю. – lit. I’m not imagining. (Can’t imagine it = I have no idea).

У меня нет ни малейшего представления. – I don’t have any idea. (I haven’t the faintest idea.)

А я знаю? – something like “Do I know?” with meaning “Why it is me who should know that?”, “How can I know?”, etc.

How to say 'I don't know' in Russian

I hope it was useful for you. Leave your comments below to suggest a topic for me to explain the next time!

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