Different ways to say "I don't understand" in Russian
There are many different ways to say that you didn't understand something in Russian: formal, informal and slang. And it's better to know all of them if you want to be able to let a person know what exactly is not clear. You can watch my video lesson on this topic and read a brief overview of the lesson below. The PDF file with all these Russian phrases is attached below the video.
Video lesson How to say "I don't understand in Russian"
Common ways to say "I don't understand" in Russian
The most common way to tell someone that you don’t understand something in Russian is «Я не понима́ю» [й'а нипанимАй'у] - I don't understand. Can be used in any situations.
You can also clarify what exactly you don’t understand because otherwise it would sound a bit weird.
In informal situations (with friends and people you know well):
Я тебя́ не понима́ю, ты говори́шь о́чень бы́стро [й'а тиб'А нипанимАй'у ты гаварИш Очин' бЫстра] - I don't understand you, you speak very fast
In formal situations (with strangers, elderly people, etc.) / or to address to several people:
Я вас не понима́ю, вы говори́те о́чень бы́стро [й'а вас нипанимАй'у
вы гаварИт'э Очин' бЫстра] - I don't understand you, you speak very fast
Я ничего́ не понима́ю. Ты мо́жешь говори́ть поме́дленнее? [й'а ничивО нипанимАй'у
ты мОжыш гаварит' пам'Эдлин'эй'э] - I don't understand anything. Can you speak more slowly?
Я ничего́ не понима́ю. Вы мо́жете говори́ть поме́дленнее? [й'а ничивО нипанимАй'у
вы мОжыт'э гаварит' пам'Эдлин'эй'э] - I don't understand anything. Can you speak more slowly?
However, it will be more natural to use this phrase in the past tense:
«Я не понял» (for a man) and «Я не поняла» (for a woman) = I didn’t get it
You can add some details of course to sound more polite.
Извини́, я не по́нял (m) / я не поняла́ (f) - Sorry, I didn't understand (informal)
Извини́те, я не по́нял (m) / я не поняла́ (f) - Sorry, I didn't understand (formal)
Извини́, я не понял(а) что ты сказа́л - Sorry, I didn't understand what you said (informal)
Извини́те, что вы сказа́ли? - Sorry, what did you say? (formal)
You can also face some situations when, for example, you understood the whole speech except for several words or phrases you don’t know. In this case, you can use the following phrases:
Что это зна́чит? [штО Эта знАчит] - What does it mean?
Что зна́чит сло́во …? [штО знАчит слОва ...] - What does a word ... mean?
Как это сло́во бу́дет по-англи́йски? [как Эта слОва бУдит паанглИски] - What is this word in English?
And now let’s imagine that you perfectly understand all the words and phrases being said but you have no idea what a person wants to say by this, you can use the following phrases:
Что ты име́ешь в виду́? [што ты им'Эиш в:идУ] - What do you mean? (informal)
Что вы име́ете в виду́? [што вы им'Эит'э в:идУ] - What do you mean? (formal)
If you need more details, just use the next phrases:
А мо́жно поподро́бнее? [амОжна пападрОбний'э] - Can I have more details on that?
Вы не могли́ бы объясни́ть поподро́бнее? [вы нимаглИбы абй'ис'нИт' пападрОбний'э] - Could you give some details on that? (formal)
This particle НЕ makes such requests sound more polite.
And how about some Russian slang? There are 3 most common ways to say ‘I don’t get it’ in slang Russian.
Slang words to say "I don't understand" in Russian
Я не догоня́ю [й'а нидаган'Ай'у] - I can't follow what is said / I am not catching up.
And in the past tense:
Я не догна́л (for a man) [й'а нидагнAл] - I couldn't follow what was said
Я не догнала́ (for a woman) [й'а нидагналА] - I couldn't follow what was said
До меня́ не дохо́дит [дамин'А нидахОдит] - I can't follow what is said
And in the past tense:
До меня́ не дошло́ [дамин'А нидашлО] - I couldn't follow what was said
Я не вруба́юсь [й'а ниврубАй'ус'] - I am not able to get / understand smth
And in the past tense:
Я не вруби́лся (m) / Я не вруби́лась (f)
[й'а ниврубИлс'а / й'а ниврубилас']
I couldn't follow what was said / I haven't caught.
I hope that you found these phrases useful and next time you need to tell a person that you don't really understand something in Russian, you will be ready. Hovewer, there are lot's of other things that you need to learn in order to speak Russian language properly:
You can find lots of useful materials on my blog.
Hello! My name is Mila and I am a founder of Hack Your Russian language platform. You can find me here:
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