Chinese Grammar Bank


Often times when you don’t know what something is, you’d like to say “I don’t understand”, especially when beginning to learn a language like Chinese.

Using 不懂 (bù dǒng) is one of the ways to state that you don’t understand something.


不懂 (bù dǒng) on its own simply means “not understand” and is often used when you want to say “I don’t understand”.


Subject + 不懂 (+ noun)

bù dǒng yīngwén.


I don’t understand English.
bù dǒng nǐ shuō shénme


He doesn’t understand what you are saying.

NOTE || 不明白 (bù míngbái) is often used to express lack of understanding as well and can be used in place of 不懂 (bù dǒng).

However, 不明白 (bù míngbái) is a bit more formal compared to 不懂 (bùdǒng).


不懂 (bù dǒng) is often used after a verb to talk about something that you don’t understand.

It helps to think that after you’ve done the verb, you are unable to understand for example 听不懂 (tīng bù dǒng) literally means “hear but not understand”; after listening (action), you don’t understand (outcome):


Subject + Verb + 不懂 + Noun

wǒ tīng bù dǒng zhōngwén.


I do not understand Chinese.
wǒ kàn bù dǒng zhōngwén.


I can’t read Chinese.
View More Phrases
我看不懂那本书。wǒ kàn bù dǒng nà běn shū.I don’t understand that book.
他听不懂我的意思。tā tīng bù dǒng wǒ de yìsi.He didn’t understand what I meant.
我看不懂中文电影。wǒ kàn bù dǒng zhōngwén diànyǐng.I don’t understand Chinese movies.
我读不懂这个句子。wǒ dú bù dǒng zhège jùzi.I don’t understand this sentence.


While learning Chinese, often times you won’t understand what a native speaker is saying to you. You’ll find yourself saying “我听不懂你的意思” (wǒ tīng bù dǒng nǐ de yìsi) a lot.

It’s a correct phrase to say but may come off as rude at times since you’re saying you don’t understand a word that the speaker said. To prevent any awkwardness, here are some alternatives that you can use instead:

我没听懂.wǒ méi tīng dǒng.I didn’t quite understand.
你能再说一遍吗?nǐ néng zàishuō yībiàn ma?Can you say that again?
请再说一遍。qǐng zàishuō yībiàn.Please say that again.
A是什么意思?A shì shénme yìsi?What does A mean?

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What does 不懂 mean?

不懂 (bù dǒng) means “to not understand”.

What are some examples of 不懂?

– 他不懂你说什么。tā bù dǒng nǐ shuō shénme. He doesn’t understand what you are saying.

– 我听不懂中文。wǒ tīng bù dǒng zhōngwén. I do not understand Chinese.

– 他们看不懂你写的汉字。Tāmen kàn bù dǒng nǐ xiě de hànzì. They don’t understand the characters that you wrote.

What alternatives are there to 不懂?

If you want to diversify your speech, you can say 不明白 instead of 不懂


– I don’t understand what you mean.

我不懂你的意思 = 我不明白你的意思。

wǒ bù dǒng nǐ de yìsi = wǒ bù míngbái nǐ de yìsi.

Is Chinese difficult?

No! As you can see from this lesson, learning Chinese is not as hard as you may think. With the right support and a consistent study schedule, you’ll be able to learn Chinese.

Check out our blog post to learn more about why Chinese isn’t as difficult as you may have heard.

How can I learn to read Chinese?

Have you learned at least 100 characters? Then you can start reading in Chinese! Yes, even without an extensive vocabulary under your belt, you can start reading Chinese to improve your skills.

Graded readers are novels written specifically for language learners of all different levels. Here are our recommendations of the best graded readers for Chinese.

Where can I take Chinese classes?

If you’re already committed to learning Chinese, you should check out Flexi Classes!

We offer small group classes 24/7, so there’s always a lesson at a convenient time for you. Our levels go from absolute beginners — with no prior experience whatsoever — and go up to the upper intermediate level! Let us be your language partners for this extraordinary journey!