Ways To Say I Don’t Know In Korean

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Do you ever find yourself struggling to express uncertainty in Korean? Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate learner, knowing how to say ‘I don’t know’ in different situations is essential for effective communication. In this article, we will explore various ways to convey your lack of knowledge in Korean, ranging from casual expressions to formal phrases and polite manners.

Additionally, we will delve into common Korean idioms related to not knowing, as well as provide you with essential vocabulary to enhance your language skills. Furthermore, we will offer tips on improving your overall communication in Korean, enabling you to navigate through conversations with confidence.

So, if you’re ready to expand your linguistic repertoire and become more proficient in expressing uncertainty, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Korean language together!

Expressing Uncertainty in Korean

Expressing uncertainty in Korean can be accomplished through the use of various linguistic expressions.

When you don’t know the answer to a question, you can simply say ‘모르겠어요’ (moreugetseoyo) which means ‘I don’t know.’

Another common expression is ‘잘 모르겠어요’ (jal moreugetseoyo) which means ‘I don’t know well.’

If you’re unsure about something, you can also use ‘아마도’ (amado) which means ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps.’

These expressions can help you navigate conversations when you’re uncertain.

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Casual Ways to Say ‘I Don’t Know’

Confused about something in Korean? Here are some casual ways to shrug off your lack of knowledge.

When you’re unsure, you can say ‘몰라’ (molla), which means ‘I don’t know.’

Another option is ‘잘 모르겠어’ (jal moreugesseo), which translates to ‘I really don’t know.’

If you want to sound even more casual, you can simply say ‘모르겠어’ (moreugesseo).

These phrases will help you express your uncertainty in a casual and natural way.

Formal Expressions for Admitting Lack of Knowledge

When it comes to admitting your lack of knowledge in a formal setting, there are specific phrases you can use. For example, you can say ‘저는 잘 모르겠어요’ (jeoneun jal moreugesseoyo) or ‘저는 모르는 것 같아요’ (jeoneun moreuneun geot gatayo). These expressions politely convey that you do not know the answer or information being asked.

Using these phrases is important in formal situations because they show respect and maintain professionalism. It’s also crucial to remember to use formal speech levels when speaking to someone of higher status or age.

Polite Phrases to Use When Unsure

Polite phrases to use when unsure can help create a respectful and professional atmosphere in formal situations. When you find yourself unsure of the answer, you can politely say, "저는 잘 모르겠습니다" (jeoneun jal moreugesseumnida), which means "I don’t know."

Another option is to say, "잠시만 기다려 주세요" (jamsiman gidaryeo juseyo), which means "Please wait a moment."

These phrases show that you are respectful and willing to find the answer, even if you don’t know it immediately.

Common Korean Idioms for Not Knowing

Unsure of what to do, Koreans often use idioms to express their lack of knowledge. One such idiom is ‘풍문조차 모르다’ (pungmunjocha moreuda), which means ‘not even aware of the rumor.’

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Another commonly used idiom is ‘외눈박이다’ (wenunbakida), which translates to ‘having only one eye.’ This idiom is used to convey that one is completely oblivious or ignorant about something.

These idioms add color and depth to conversations, allowing Koreans to express their uncertainty in a creative and vivid way.

Cultural Context of Expressing Ignorance in Korean

Imagine yourself immersed in Korean culture, where expressing ignorance holds a significant cultural context that adds depth and richness to conversations.

In Korean society, admitting that you don’t know something is not seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence, but rather a humble and respectful gesture. It shows that you value the other person’s knowledge and expertise.

This cultural norm encourages open and honest communication, fostering a sense of learning and growth in conversations.

Polishing Your Korean Language Skills

Enhancing your Korean language skills can open up doors to new opportunities and deeper connections with others.

To polish your skills, immerse yourself in the language by watching Korean movies or dramas and listening to Korean music.

Practice speaking with native speakers or language exchange partners to improve your pronunciation and fluency.

Utilize online resources and language learning apps to expand your vocabulary and grammar knowledge.

With dedication and practice, you can become proficient in Korean.

Essential Korean Vocabulary for Expressing Uncertainty

Mastering essential Korean vocabulary is crucial for effectively expressing uncertainty and navigating conversations with native speakers. When it comes to saying ‘I don’t know’ in Korean, there are several useful phrases to remember.

One common expression is ‘모르겠어요’ (moreugetseoyo), which directly translates to ‘I don’t know.’

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Another option is to use ‘잘 모르겠어요’ (jal moreugetseoyo), which means ‘I don’t know well.’

These phrases will help you communicate your uncertainty in various situations and improve your overall language skills.

Tips for Improving Communication in Korean

Improve your Korean communication skills by incorporating these effective tips into your conversations.

First, practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and avoiding distractions.

Second, ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the message accurately.

Third, use body language and gestures to enhance your communication.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

By following these tips, you can enhance your communication skills in Korean.

Practicing Saying ‘I Don’t Know’ in Korean

When faced with unfamiliar questions, it’s crucial to be honest and humble by admitting your lack of knowledge with a simple ‘I’m clueless’ in Korean.

One way to say ‘I don’t know’ in Korean is ‘몰라요’ (mollayo), which is the most common phrase used.

Another option is ‘모르겠어요’ (moreugesseoyo), which means ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m not sure.’

Both phrases are widely understood and will help you navigate conversations with ease.


In conclusion, it is essential to know different ways to say ‘I don’t know’ in Korean for effective communication. There are various expressions to choose from when expressing uncertainty casually, formally, or politely. Familiarizing yourself with common Korean idioms for not knowing can also help you sound more natural in conversations. By expanding your vocabulary and practicing these phrases, you can polish your Korean language skills and improve your overall communication.

Remember, language learning is a continuous process. Keep practicing and never be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.