Lost In Translation? 10+ Ways to Say "I Don't Know" in Spanish!
Our knowledge on many topics of discussion is limited. This makes it necessary to point out confidently that we do not know something. The need for this phrase in daily conversation is diverse, depending on the context it is being used in. As such, it is crucial to know which one is appropriate for all situations.
The most commonly used phrase is no lo sé, which translates as “I don’t know.” It is essential to note that sometimes, the tone used for the words impacts how others receive what you want to say. There is a thin line between a polite “I do not know” and a rude one. If you are not careful, you might sound dismissive.
No lo sé is pronounced ['no 'lo 'se] in the IPA transcription.
If you are on the quest to learn Spanish, you might often find that you don’t know or understand a phrase or an expression. Our Spanish Frequency Dictionaries are a great source to help you overcome that. In four books, you’ll get 10,000 most common Spanish words listed by frequency and alphabet. Each entry also has an example sentence translated into English to show you word usage in context.
Other Ways to Say “I Don’t Know” in Spanish
- No tengo idea – I have no idea
This expression is used when there is a problem on the table, and you do not have a solution for it. It can range from someone asking you for directions or what time it is. Whichever situation it is, the phrase shows frustration and disappointment.
It could be that someone is bothering you with the inquisition, and this answer is meant to silence them. Also, you might not like that you cannot figure something out.
Due to the mixed interpretations, it is essential to keep this answer within a circle of close colleagues, friends, and relatives. Saying it to your boss might be seen as a blatant refusal to find a solution as you cannot be bothered.
- No tengo idea de cuándo comienza la reunion. – I have no idea what time the meeting is starting.
- No tengo conocimiento – I am not aware
This indicates information that you have not come across. It can be used in a formal situation. The phrase is an ideal response when someone wishes to confirm details with you. It shows an acknowledgement that whatever they are talking about might be accurate, but you cannot confirm or refute it.
- No tengo conocimiento de ningún cambio en el lugar. – I am not aware of any changes in the venue.
- Me gana – It beats me
When you are aware of an occurrence, but you do not know the details, this phrase comes in handy. It can be used for how, when, or why of a situation. It is crucial to note that it is only ideal to use in casual settings, considering the use of figurative speech. It adds a little flare to the language and makes you sound unique.
- Su decisión de mover la boda me gana. – Their decision to move the wedding beats me.
- No tan lejos como sé – Not as far as I know
This phrase acknowledges a gap in the transfer of information. It shows that there is a possible new development that you are not aware of. However, it also expresses hope that you will know in due time.
This can be used in formal situations where organization is essential, and there is a chain in communication. For instance, in an office setting when organizing a meeting.
- Question: ¿Viene el supervisor? – Is the supervisor coming?
- Response: No tan lejos como sé. – Not as far as I know.
- Quién sabe? – Who knows?
You can use this phrase in a group when everyone expresses frustrations with trying to understand something or solve a problem. It is also a final remark to a question that seeks to clarify an idea that is beyond your scope.
- Question: ¿Por qué sigue apareciendo? – Why does he keep showing up?
- Response: ¿Quién sabe? – Who knows?
- Desearía saber – I wish I knew
When you want to help someone through an inquiry but can’t, this is the best phrase to use. It shows concern for their situation a willingness to assist, but you are not in a position to. This can be due to boundaries, restrictions, or lack of information.
It can also be taken as a reference to have them look for someone who could help. This is also an apology for not being able to assist.
- Desearía saber cuando tus resultados salgan. – I wish I knew when your results will be out.
- No soy familiarizado – I am not familiar
This is used when the information presented is essential in the situation, but you lack the proper understanding to comprehend it. This could range from a topic of discussion with friends to a more formal inquiry at work about a project. It expresses regret at not knowing what is being talked about while communicating the willingness to learn more about what is being discussed.
- No estoy familiarizado con esta formula. – I am not familiar with this formula.
- No soy la persona adecuada para preguntar. – I am not the right person to ask that.
This is an admission of the lack of ability to address a situation. It is indicative of a superior who might have the needed information. As such, the phrase is a redirection towards the right source of information. It is appropriate for formal settings.
When used in a sentence, you can replace the word “that” with the topic of discussion to personalize the conversation.
- No soy la persona adecuada para preguntar sobre la administración. – I am not the right person to ask about management.
- Está más allá de mí. – It is beyond me.
This means that the reason you do not know something is that you cannot understand it. It shows that no effort towards comprehension will end with you being familiar with a concept or situation.
- Cómo viven en la suciedad está más allá de mí. – How they live in filth is beyond me.
- Hay muchas respuestas posibles. – There are many possible answers.
If you find yourself in a dilemma and the given options are similar, the best response is to avoid picking one. This means you need to communicate the presence of an array of choices that would make for a correct answer. It can be interpreted as “I don’t know which one to pick.”
- Hay muchas respuestas posibles cuando se trata de resolver este problema. – There are many possible answers when it comes to solving this problem.
Don’t forget to look at our Spanish Frequency Dictionary series. You’ll find only practical vocabulary there together with a translation, pronunciation, and basic grammar. The example sentences are a great reading practice, too!
It’s OK to admit you don’t know the answer. However, showing that you are willing to find it will make communication with others easier.
In today’s article, you’ve learned many possible ways to say “I don’t know” in Spanish in various situations and contexts. You don’t have to rely on the simple “no lo sé” anymore. If you have further questions, let us know in the comments below. We’ll be more than happy to answer!