Je Ne Sais Pas Meaning (I Don’t Know In French)

"Je ne sais pas": I don't know in French

Je ne sais pas meaning

In French, the meaning of “Je ne sais pas” (pronounced juh nun say pah) is “I don’t know”. Slang variations of “Je ne sais pas” include “Je sais pas”, J’sais pas” and “Chais pas”. This lesson covers several other informal and formal ways of saying I don’t know in French.

Je ne sais pas pronunciation

The pronunciation of “Je ne sais pas” [ʒə n(ə) sɛ pɑ] is easy to learn. The word “je” (I) rhymes with the world “le”, as in “le, la, les”, which mean “the”.

The word “ne” rhymes with “je” so just change the -j to an -n.

The word “sais” (know) sounds like the English word “say” as in “What did you say”?”

The word “pas” sounds like “pah”.

This link on Forvo gives several examples of how to pronounce “Je ne sais pas”. This quick video also does a good job teaching the pronunciation:

Slang ways to say “Je ne sais pas” in French

The phrase “Je ne sais pas” is associated with factual ideas and thoughts. For example, if somebody asks, “Est-ce que le magasin est ouvert?” (Is the store open?), you can answer “Je ne sais pas” (I don’t know).

However, if somebody asks the same question, “Est-ce que le magasin est ouvert?” and you answer “Je ne connais pas”, that would be wrong.

“Je ne connais pas” also means “I don’t know”. But, this phrase is used for the knowing of people, places and areas of study.

This page looks at the difference between savoir and connaître (both mean to know) in great detail.

Variations of “Je ne sais pas”

There are several slang and informal variation of “Je ne sais pas”.

For example, you can say “Je sais pas“. In spoken French, the “ne” in the ne…pas negation is often completely dropped. Again, this is an informal pronunciation and should not be used in formal settings.

“Je sais pas” can also be written “J’sais pas“.

This page teaches French negation rules in detail.

Another slang variation of “Je ne sais pas” is: “Chais pas“. Here, the three words “Je ne sais” are being combined into on single “chais”, which is pronounced “shay”.

“Chais pas” is very informal and translates to “dunno” in English.

For “J’sais pas” and “chais pas”, the word “moi” (me) can be add on to give a bit more emphasis: “J’sais pas, moi!” and “Chais pas, moi!”.

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Other ways to say “I don’t know in French”

Similar to English, there are lots of other ways to say, “I don’t know” in French. Let’s have a look at some of those ways.

Je n’ai aucune idée

The phrase “Je n’ai aucune idée” means “I have no idea”, or “I haven’t the foggiest”. The word “aucun” means any. It takes an -e in this phrase because the word “idée” (idea) is feminine.

Je ne suis pas sûr(e)

“Je ne suis pas sûr(e)” means “I am not sure”. The word “sûr” translates to both sure and safe. Without the circumflex accent, “sur” translates to “on” or “on top of”. The “(e)” is used to indicate the feminine form.

Je n’en sais rien

“Je n’en sais rien” translates to “I haven’t got a clue”. A literal translation of “Je n’en sais rien” is “I know nothing about that”. In French slang the n’ is omitted to form: “J’en sais rien”.

Je n’en ai pas la moindre idée

“Je n’en ai pas la moindre idée” is yet another way of saying “I don’t know”. Translations include “I have no idea” and “I haven’t the foggiest”. A literal translation is “I do not have the least idea about that”.

The word “moindre” translates to “least”.

Qui sait!

“Qui sait!” is an interjection that translates to “Who knows!”. The usage is the exact same as in English. For example, “Où est Jacques? – Qui sait!” (Where is Jacques? – Who knows!).

Qu’est-ce que j’en sais ?

“Qu’est-ce que j’en sais ?” translates to both “Search me” and “What do I know”? A literal translation is: “What do I know about that”. Another translation include “beats me”.

Ignorer

The verb “ignorer” is a false cognate (word that looks the same in both language but has a different meaning). In French, “ignorer” means to know not know.

For example, “La police ignore encore la cause de l’incendie” (The police still don’t know the cause of the fire).

Conclusion

While “Je ne sais pas” is the most common way of saying “I know know” in French, you have seen there are many slang variations and other ways of saying “I don’t know”. We hope this article has helped.

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