Say "I Don’t Understand" in Chinese Like a Native, Avoid annoying "听不懂"
Posted by Fifi Yang on 2016-02-29 17:42:17 18490

I do not understand in Chinese

听不懂 tīng bù dǒng is a useful phrase that every Chinese beginner needs to learn. When you do not understand something, you will default to saying 我听不懂/听不懂 tīng bù dǒng. However, it does not help in all situations. If you say "我听不懂,听不懂",the native speaker will think you do not understand Mandarin Chinese at all, not like you do not understand the particular thing. But, what if you just do not fully get the meaning of the speaker, like missing one word, concept, or maybe you just didn't hear clearly, what should you say? Today we really encourage you to read below about better ways to say "I don't understand" in Chinese.

Let's go through one by one.

1. wǒ bù mínɡ bɑi ; wǒ bù dǒnɡ; wǒ bù zhī dào
我不明白; 我不懂;我不知道

This phrase is quite similar to 听不懂, which means I heard what you say, but could not get the meaning of it.

2. bù hǎo yì si, wǒ méi tīnɡ qīnɡ chu
不好意思,我没听清楚

Excuse me. I did not quite hear you right.

This phrase means I may miss that information a bit.

3. duì bù qǐ, wǒ bù dǒnɡ nǐ de yì si
对不起,我不懂你的意思
I'm sorry, I don't understand your meaning

These phrase is perfect for those situations when you understood every word but don't know what the person really means.

4. nǐ ( ɡānɡ cái / ɡānɡ ɡānɡ ) shuō shén me ?
你(刚才/刚刚)说什么?

What are you saying just now?

A:nǐ bānɡ wǒ bǎ zhuō shànɡ de běn zi dì ɡuò lái yí xià kě yǐ mɑ
你帮我把桌上的本子递过来一下可以吗?

Could you please help to handle my notebook?

B:nǐ shuō shén me?
你说什么?

What are you saying just now?

When you did not hear what that person's saying or understand what she mean.

5. qǐnɡ zài shuō yī cì
请再说一次

Please say one more time.

You've noticed that we've add some polite words in the beginning, it's just kind of soft tenses to show politeness.

6. nǐ de yì si shì … …
你的意思是……

So you mean…

Sometimes guessing what the person means maybe your best bet.

7. shén me … shén me … shén me …
什么…什么…什么…

A native speaker probably says when do not understand or don't understand properly, especially the speaker says it in a quite fast speed, and you only get some fragment information.

There are many other phrases useful to respond when you do not understand something, and probably they are all better than simply saying "听不懂". Do not be afraid to use some complex vocabulary, that's how you can improve your Mandarin Chinese.

If you stick to saying 听不懂 everytime, maybe they will just switch to English, you will miss the chance to practice your Mandarin Chinese.

Want to learn more useful and native Chinese phrases? Do not be shy, sign up for a free online tailor-made Chinese lesson to try out for yourself.

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