How to say in German: I do not understand

After a few German lessons, you are bound to have the desire to say: I do not understand. Saying it in German is even better.

The verb ‘to understand’ in German is ‘verstehen’. The conjugation of that verb in the present tense is a follows:

ich  verstehe

du verstehst

er/sie/es versteht  

wir verstehen

ihr versteht

sie/Sie verstehen 

I understand 

you understand

he/she/it understands

we understand

you all understand

they/you understand

Apologising before asking also goes down well. Using the German imperative, you say: ‘Entschuldigen Sie’ with which you address your German teacher formally; or informally ‘Entschuldidge!’ The meaning of both is: Excuse me!

‘Es tut mir leid’ means: I am sorry, and as you aren’t addressing your teacher directly, you can use it on whichever term you are on.

Let’s get back to the verb ‘verstehen’. The verb is transitive and requires a direct object that needs the Accusative case in German. The Accusative object in the formal is ‘Sie’ and ‘dich’ in the informal.

Entschuldigen Sie! Ich verstehe Sie nicht.

Entschuldige, ich verstehe dich nicht.

You can add the modal verb ‘können’ and say: Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen. The main verb being modified is placed at the very end of the sentence.

To ask what something means in German, you use ‘bedeuten’. 

Was bedeutet das auf Deutsch? Was bedeutet das auf Englisch. The formal and informal appellation does not come into play because you inquire about something in the third person.

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