German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As I read here:


The first two sentences are classified as "Nicht-Verstehen signalisieren". Are there other widely known terms or interjections to signal you didn't understand something?

share|improve this question
Just a few corrections: "Um Wiederholung bitten" (Wiederholung is a noun); also, "Nicht-Verstehen" or as verb "nicht verstehen" is not the same as "nichts verstehen" (nicht = not, nichts = nothing) – splattne Jul 21 '11 at 9:38
@splattne: Editted. And yes, "nichts verstehen" and "nicht verstehen" are completely different but how it's related to the question? "Nicht-Verstehen" is wrong? – user508 Jul 21 '11 at 10:06
no, no, "Nicht-Verstehen" is correct. It's a noun and means the concept of "nicht verstehen". Sie wollte ihr Nicht-Verstehen signalisieren." is like saying "Sie wollte ihre Hilflosigkeit signalisieren." – splattne Jul 21 '11 at 10:24
@splattne: Aha, got it. thanks. – user508 Jul 21 '11 at 10:26
Elaborated: Wie meinen? – Ingo Sep 9 '11 at 12:59
up vote 8 down vote accepted

"Wie bitte?" or simply "Bitte?" is the standard polite form. "Was?" is also common, but shows bad manners. Use it only if you are sure the addressed person doesn't mind.

By the way, I would remove "Ich brauche eine Auskunft." from that list. Nobody talks like that.

share|improve this answer
+1 "Ich brauche eine Auskunft." is really weird. Although "Können Sie mir helfen?" is ok, it's a meta question. You should start with "Entschuldigung" oder "Entschuldigen sie bitte" and directly continue to your question i.e. "Entschuldig, können sie mir sagen wie ich zum Bahnhof komme?" – Hinek Jul 21 '11 at 7:30
I don't think that "Ich brauche eine Auskunft" is weird. More common are other forms, like "Ich hätte gerne eine Auskunft" or "Können Sie mir bitte eine Auskunft geben", but there's nothing weird on all three forms. Now, that these forms may not be appropriate under all circumstances is a different matter. But when you're going to ask when a train departs, it's fine. It's not true that nobody talks like that - it's just that not everyone talks like that. But that's not the same. Other than that, the answer is good and deserves +1. – OregonGhost Jul 21 '11 at 8:38
It's not my opinion, but an exercise in an international book. I was looking for interjections more than a simple sentence like "was" .. – user508 Jul 21 '11 at 8:55

"Entschuldigung, das habe ich nicht verstanden"

would be very natural.

share|improve this answer
If you talk about acoustic difficulties (speaker has a quite voice or ambient noise interferes) you can express that also: "Entschuldigung, das habe ich akustisch nicht verstanden" – 0x6d64 Jan 9 '12 at 19:04

Nicht-Verstehen signalisieren:

  • Was meinen Sie damit?
  • Wie bitte? – Das habe ich eben akustisch nicht verstanden.
  • Versteh ich nicht!
  • Kapier ich nicht!(fam)
  • Das verstehe ich nicht [ganz].
  • [Entschuldigen Sie bitte, aber] das habe ich eben nicht verstanden.
  • Ich kann Ihnen nicht ganz folgen.

And "Hä?" as an interjection that I don't understand.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.