I Don’t Know In German: 11 Alternatives for Ich Weiß Nicht When You’re In Trouble

Let’s admit it: we all get into a situation where we have to say I don’t know in German. And the most common way to say it is: Ich weiß nicht.

But there are other alternatives that can make you sound more like a German native speaker. And we advise you to use these alternatives because they make your sentences better!

Lingoni German made a great video on these alternatives, check it out:

And if you want to learn more about these chunks or common German phrases, click on any of these terms:

GermanEnglish
Ich weiß nicht.I don’t know
Keine Ahnung.No idea
Ich habe keine Ahnung.I have no idea
Das weiß ich nicht.I don’t know that
Ich bin mir nicht sicher.I’m not sure
Keine Idee.No idea
Das ist mir unbekannt.That is unknown to me
Ich kann dir nicht sagen.I can’t tell you
Das weiß ich leider nicht.Unfortunately, I don’t know that
Ich bin nicht informiert.I am not informed
Ich bin nicht sicher.I am not certain

1. Ich weiß nicht. (I don’t know in German)

Effortless Answers

This is the most basic and universally understood way to express uncertainty in German.

You can use it in almost any situation, whether you’re talking to a friend, a family member, or even a stranger. It’s direct and gets the point across without any additional nuance.

In a real-life situation, this could look like:

Anna: Weißt du, wo der nächste Supermarkt ist? (Do you know where the nearest supermarket is?)
Ben: Ich weiß nicht. (I don’t know.)

2. Keine Ahnung. (No idea)

This phrase is very casual and can often carry a tone of indifference or resignation. It’s used among friends or in other relaxed settings where formal language isn’t necessary.

In German dialogues:

Lisa: Hast du den neuen Film gesehen? Wie war er? (Have you seen the new movie? How was it?)
Tom: Keine Ahnung. (No idea.)

3. Ich habe keine Ahnung. (I have no idea)

This phrase is a bit more descriptive and can be used in both informal and semi-formal conversations. It shows a complete lack of knowledge or understanding about a particular topic.

In German sentences:

Sarah: Weißt du, wie man das Problem lösen kann? (Do you know how to solve the problem?)
Max: Ich habe keine Ahnung. (I have no idea.)

4. Das weiß ich nicht. (I don’t know that)

Use this phrase when you want to emphasize that you’re unaware of a piece of information. It’s enough for both formal and informal conversations.

In real-life situations:

Clara: Weißt du, warum Matthias heute nicht gekommen ist? (Do you know why Matthias didn’t come today?)
Paul: Das weiß ich nicht. (I don’t know that.)

i don't know in german illustrated with a cartoon character

5. Ich bin mir nicht sicher. (I’m not sure)

This phrase shows that you might have some knowledge or a guess but lack confidence in it. It’s used to soften the uncertainty, making it good for conversations where a definitive answer is not expected.

A German conversation could go on like this:

Eva: Meinst du, das Restaurant ist noch geöffnet? (Do you think the restaurant is still open?)
Lukas: Ich bin mir nicht sicher. (I’m not sure.)

6. Keine Idee. (No idea)

This is a very casual way of saying that you have no clue about something. It’s often used among friends or in informal settings.

Sometimes, you don’t have to use advanced German phrases to talk in German:

Mia: Was machst du am Wochenende? (What are you doing on the weekend?)
Jonas: Keine Idee. (No idea.)

7. Das ist mir unbekannt. (That is unknown to me)

This phrase is more formal and can be used in professional or academic German settings. It expresses that the information is entirely unknown to you without suggesting any potential ignorance or lack of knowledge on your part.

When something isn’t clear to you:

Hannah: Kennen Sie den Autor dieses Buches? (Do you know the author of this book?)
Felix: Das ist mir unbekannt. (That is unknown to me.)

8. Ich kann dir nicht sagen. (I can’t tell you)

This chunk expresses that even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t be able to provide the information. It’s good for casual conversations where the exact knowledge is not crucial.

Maybe you truly don’t know something, or you want to keep a secret:

Nina: Was gibt es heute zum Mittagessen? (What is for lunch today?)
Philipp: Ich kann dir nicht sagen. (I can’t tell you.)

9. Das weiß ich leider nicht. (Unfortunately, I don’t know that)

Adding “leider” (unfortunately) makes this phrase more polite and empathetic.

It’s appropriate for any context where you want to soften the blow of not having the information.

Let’s imagine this situation:

Julia: Wann beginnt die Veranstaltung? (When does the event start?)
Marco: Das weiß ich leider nicht. (Unfortunately, I don’t know that.)

10. Ich bin nicht informiert. (I am not informed)

This is a formal way of expressing that you haven’t been given the information. It’s great for professional or academic settings where a more, advanced German vocabulary is expected.

For example:

Laura: Hast du die neuesten Nachrichten gehört? (Have you heard the latest news?)
David: Ich bin nicht informiert. (I am not informed.)

11. Ich bin nicht sicher. (I am not certain)

Similar to Ich bin mir nicht sicher, this phrase shows some kind of knowledge but a lack of full confidence. It can be used in both formal and informal settings.

For instance, this could sound like this:

Katrin: Denkst du, dass das Wetter morgen gut wird? (Do you think the weather will be good tomorrow?)
Stefan: Ich bin nicht sicher. (I am not certain.)

Practice worksheet for I don’t know in German synonyms

If you want to practice using the synonyms in German, here’s your chance!

And this was just a sneak peek! You can access our Full Practice Worksheet if you click the button below!

Know the answer to every German question with Conversation Based Chunking

Now you know how to say I don’t know in German. If you want to learn to answer every question in German, you can use the Conversation Based Chunking method.

It’s an approach that focuses on the lexical chunks of the language, and instead of focusing too much on grammar, you immerse yourself in the language by listening to German podcasts, watching the best German movies or the best German TV shows on Netflix. You pick up on the chunks native speakers use all the time, and then, you incorporate it into your German sentences.

The good news is: we can teach you this method. The only thing you have to do now is to click this button below and sign up to our email list. After that, you’ll get the first pack for FREE!

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