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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is...What’s the difference between 知る(shiru) and 分かる(wakaru)?
Both 知る(shiru) and 分かる(wakaru) can be translated as “to know.” So, how do you know which one to use?
Let’s go over the differences together.
知る(shiru) is used when you gain new information or knowledge. 分かる(wakaru) is used when you “understand,” “grasp,” or “comprehend” something. It’s also used when you discover something, make a judgement, or decide on a solution.
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to use 知る(shiru) and 分かる(wakaru) correctly.
First, let’s do an example with 知る(shiru)--
駅までの道を知っています。(Eki made no michi o shitte imasu.)
This phrase means, “I know the way/route to the station.” In this situation, the route to the station is something you simply “know.” 知る(shiru) is an action verb meaning “to learn” or “to gain something new,” so when it’s used to mean “to know,” you need to use it in the -te form plus います(imasu), as in 知っています(shitte imasu)。
Now, let's do an example with 分かる(wakaru)--
この文の意味が分かりました。(Kono bun no imi ga wakarimashita.)
This phrase literally means, “I (now) understood the meaning of this sentence.” In this situation, the speaker was unable to grasp the meaning of the sentence before, but now has complete understanding of it. That’s why, in this case, we use 分かる(wakaru) in the past tense 分かりました(wakarimashita), to express that the meaning has already been understood.
How was this lesson? Did you get everything? Make sure to visit JapanesePod101.com for more practice!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね!mata ne! See you!


Please to leave a comment.
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 25th, 2016 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
April 22nd, 2022 at 02:48 AM
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Hi Yona,

Thank you for taking the time to leave us a comment.😄

There are some explanations for the example sentence 「この文の意味が分かりました。」in the Lesson Note and in the Lesson Transcript section. Here I quote, “In this situation, the speaker was unable to grasp the meaning of the sentence before, but now has a complete understanding of it. That's why, in this case, we use 分かる (wakaru) in the past tense, 分かりました (wakarimashita), to express that the meaning has already been understood.”. Hope this answers your question!😉

Looking forward to seeing you often here.



Team JapanesePod101.com

April 21st, 2022 at 08:19 PM
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For the last example, I wish there were a bit more explanations as of why "wakarimashita" is in past tense, to translate as a state of currently "understanding" something ; why not present tense?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
December 29th, 2019 at 04:49 AM
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Jim Burnsさん


Please let us know if you have any question :)



Team JapanesePod101.com

Jim Burns
December 25th, 2019 at 01:19 AM
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
November 28th, 2016 at 06:42 PM
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Raichu san,


I am sorry about the late reply.

Thank you very much for your positive feedback.

Dan san and Cindy san,


Thank you for your comments.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to ask us.

JHD42 san, Alain san


Unfortunately,しります is hardly used and when you want to say ‘I know’, you should use ‘しっています.’

This is not following the video however, the differences are below.

Imagine you are asked about your plan for this weekend.


If you say ‘しりません’, that is incorrect.

In this case, ‘わかりません’ is appropriate.

You haven’t decided it yet however, you will think about it later on and will have your answer.

When you don’t know about (decide) something but will get an answer, ‘わかりません’ should be used.

You don’t know about (decide) something now and if you think or look up or do whatever, you will not get an answer for it, you should use ‘しりません.’

The point is ‘whether you can get an answer later or not.’

Other example is

In class teachers often use ‘わかりますか’ after his/her explanation or drill practice or at the end of the class then you can follow it and say ‘はい、わかります (I understand)’ or ’いいえ、わかりません.’

On the other hand, teachers ask students about questions using ‘しっていますか’ , before introducing something new which means s/he would like to know about your knowledge.

I hope it could be helpful.:smile:

Yuki 由紀

Team JapanesePod101.com

November 19th, 2016 at 10:13 PM
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I'm not sure I understood.

Perhaps some more examples would be necessary.

November 7th, 2016 at 04:36 AM
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I think I get it (わかりました), but indeed, the examples are not optimal.

First we're told しる means gaining knowledge, which sounds a lot like わかる's understanding and comprehending, but the example immediately jumps to the て-form.

But what would be the nuance between しります and わかります?

October 29th, 2016 at 12:29 AM
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I agree with Dan. The video examples are confusing.

October 28th, 2016 at 09:33 AM
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I am a little bit confused. In the video, I think the person knows the way to the station, so it is not new information. But learning the sentence, that would be new information.

October 28th, 2016 at 08:31 AM
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great explanation! if only i had this video when i was trying to wakaru the difference between these two words i shitte iru!!