The diffrence between 「知らない」(shiranai) and「わからない」(wakaranai) -「知らない」と「わからない」の違い

Today’s topic is the difference between 知らない (しらない;Shiranai) and わからない (Wakaranai). When they are translated literally, 知らない will be translated as “I don’t know” and わからない will be “I don’t understand”. But depending on the context, 知らない can be used as I don’t understand as well and vice versa. When to use 知らない and わからない is confusing to Japanese learners. So, let's check out the differences between 知らない and わからない in this article.




The difference between 知らない and わからない


知らない is used to express that the speaker doesn’t have knowledge about something, whereas わからない is used to express that the speaker cannot understand or has been taught something but he had forgotten.


Example of 知らない (しらない;shiranai)

この機械の使い方を知らない(このきかいのつかいかたをしらない/Kono Kikai no tsukaikata wo shiranai)

= I don’t know how to use this machine.

In this sentence, it shows that the speaker doesn’t know because one has no knowledge or information about the machine.


Example of わからない (wakaranai)

数学の問題がわからない(すうがくのもんだいがわからない/Sugaku no mondai ga wakaranai)

= I don’t understand this math problem.

In this sentence, it shows that one has not understood although it has been explained or taught.


The word 知らない has a strong meaning of "I don't have any information about this matter.” They are often used in questions that do not require thinking. わからない is often used when you can't find an answer to a question. And you can also use it with the meaning of "知らない.



When do you use it?


わからない is used when you answer “no” referring to yourself, 知らない is used when you answer “no” referring to someone else.


Example

Q. 夏休みはどこかいくの?(なつやすみはどこかいくの?/Natsu yasumi wa dokoka ikuno?

= Are you going anywhere during summer vacation?

A. まだわからない (Mada Wakaranai)