How do you say: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” in German?

I had a rough day today. I can’t figure out if I’m suffering from allergies or if I have a cold, but my nose is runny, breathing is difficult and I feel miserable.

Even so, I walked over 13 miles around Berlin because I had to get out and explore.

My plan was to walk to the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag, which can be found in the center of the city. I’m living in the east end of Berlin at the moment, around 6 kilometers (3.66 miles) away from the Brandenburg Gate. By the time I reached that part of the city (a major tourist hub), I was so knackered that I couldn’t be bothered interacting with other humans. I slowly made my way home and ended my day with a brief stop at Veganz, the all-vegan supermarket located down the street from where I’m staying.

I was immersed in German all day long. Besides chatting with my flatmates, I only overhead English-speakers twice today. Not knowing the language here is difficult for me.

Shopping is tricky as I can’t read anything. I mistakenly purchased scented tissue today because I couldn’t read the label. I already can’t breathe and now I have a months supply of this stuff. Oh well!

I struggled with simple tasks like locating a public bathroom, an electrical outlet converter, and food shops today because I was worried about asking others for help. I did find everything I needed, though, it just took me a bit longer.

I just need to get over my fear of making a mistake or sounding foolish when speaking a foreign language. I’ve gotten over this fear when it comes to Arabic and Spanish, but still am nervous about speaking French, Polish, and now German because my vocabulary is lacking.

(Writing this post reminds me that I still need to study Polish today. I use the Duolingo app on my phone. It’s free and fun to use! I may throw in a few German lessons as well.)

I know it’s unreasonable for any person to be completely fluent in every language, but I feel like an absolute knob not being able to speak German. I also don’t like expecting others to speak English to accommodate me. I’m visiting their country, I should at least try to make an effort to speak their native language.

By the end of the day, I found myself comfortable with saying danke (thank you) and guten tag (good day), so that’s an improvement! When in doubt, I just smiled and nodded. That seemed to work well.

Even though I find being immersed in German confusing and intimidating, I do appreciate how much alone time I have here. Conversations of passers-by don’t interest me in the slightest, advertisements plastered on walls or the sides of buses perplex me…I have no idea what the ads say or their purpose. My thoughts are all I have as I meander through the city.

I can’t wait until I’m completely well so I can focus more on my writing. Berlin already inspires me. I just need the energy to capture it!

What languages do you speak?

How did you learn them?


10 replies on “How do you say: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” in German?”

Whenever we travel somewhere I learn the same few things so I know the following in Spanish, German, French and Japanese amongst other weird phrases.

Yes – Ja (yah)
No – Nein (nine)
Please – Bitte (bitter)
Excuse me – Entschuldigen (Ints-shool-de-gung)
Numbers 1-10 but normally only need 2 as there are two of us

… and the useless phrase – über die Brücke (over the bridge)

It’s not much but it helps. I always find I pick up more as I go 🙂

Thanks! I’ve been stumped a few times, but usually the person just switches to English. haha 🙂 It’s fun learning new words as I wander around. 🙂

Hey I’m from Germany and I also live near Berlin. I think it’s weird for you in Germany but it’s very good that you already found that Veganz store. I want to go there in my next summer holidays.
You can read that I can speak also Englisch and a little bit of French though school. So maybe you can post a question to Germany if you have one and I can answer you 🙂

And sorry your question: Es tut mir leid, ich weiß es nicht. -> this is the answer how we say sorry i dont know.

I’m sorry I can’t pronounce German words good but maybe the Google Translator can help you 🙂

I learnt Italian through primary, secondary school and a year of uni. It’s been over 10 years since I spoke it properly need to get back into it!

Nice! Are you familiar with Duolingo? They have an Italian course. Maybe you’d enjoy using the app as a way to refresh your language skills. 🙂

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