How do you say ‘Sorry I don’t understand Japanese’ in Japanese?

There are not many Japanese people who can speak English in Japan. So when you are in Japan, you are likely to be talked to by people in Japanese.


In other words, it is a good opportunity to practise your Japanese or you may just want to say, ‘Sorry, I can’t understand Japanese’ or ‘I don’t speak Japanese very well’.

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How do you say ‘Sorry I don’t understand Japanese’?

すみません、にほんご わかりません。
Sumimasen, Nihongo Wakarimasen!
Sorry, I don’t understand Japanese

I think this is the easiest phrase to remember and it is useful. Let’s break it up.

Sorry: Sumimasen すみません

First of all, please remember the word, ‘Sorry!’ It is ‘Sumimasen すみません’ in Japanese.

We learnt it before, so please refer to the post below:

Japanese: Nihongo 日本語(にほんご)

In English ‘Japanese’ means people and language, but in Japanese, they are slightly different; Japanese people and the Japanese language.

‘The Japanese language’ is ‘Nihongo にほんご’ in Japanese.

By the way, ‘Japanese people’ is ‘Nihon-jin にほんじん’.

I don’t understand: Wakarimasen わかりません

’Wakarimasen わかりません’’ is a negative and polite form of the verb ‘Wakaru わかる’ which means to understand.

How do you say ‘I cannot speak Japanese’?

In this situation, you can say; “I don’t speak Japanese”. ‘I don’t speak’ or ‘I cannot speak’ is ‘Hanasemasen はなせません’ which came from the verb ‘Hanasu はなす; to speak.

So you can also say,

すみません、にほんご はなせません。
Sumimasen, Nihongo Hanasemasen.
Sorry, I don’t speak Japanese.