What's the way to say "I don't understand" in European Portuguese?

I found 2 ways to say it and I'm not sure what's more appropriate and natural for European Portuguese:

  • Não percebo!
  • Não entendo!
  • 2
    "Não percebo" would sound very strange in PT-BR if you wanted to say "I don't understand", but since I don't have that much expertise with PT-PT, I'll leave it up to someone who does to write an answer. – gmauch Dec 23 '20 at 14:12
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    This needs more context. If you're in the middle of a conversation and you didn't hear well what was said to you the most common thing to say would be you "não percebi". If you didn't comprehend, then there are more options but one of the most common is probably "não estou a perceber" – Artefacto Dec 23 '20 at 21:17
  • Hello, would you mind accepting the answer by clicking the green check mark on the left side? – bad_coder Dec 31 '20 at 3:31
  • Sure, but if you can make it clearer regarding the most common in use in European Portuguese. – Ubiquitous Student Dec 31 '20 at 3:36

There are 3 main ways to say: "I don't understand". You already found 2 of them, and I quote:

Não percebo!

Não entendo!

The other 1 that would commonly be used in European Portuguese is:

Não compreendo.

You can check the list of possible synonyms for compreendo.

Much less frequently but of valid use, you may find in books:

Não alcanço (com a inteligência)

This is equivalent to saying: "Beyond my grasp (of my intelligence)".

Some objections were raised on the comments saying it's important to expand the answer for completeness. The above forms would be said using present tense (pretérito presente) or past tense (pretérito perfeito) during a conversation, but the use of the infinitive form together with the auxiliary verb (verbo auxiliar) specifically "estar" is also common (and sums up the vast majority of practical everyday uses.)

So, summarizing, it would be:

Eu compreendo. (Present tense)


Eu compreendi. (Past tense)


Eu estou a compreender. (Infinitive with auxiliary verb)

The negative forms would simply add a not (não) between the personal pronoun and the verb, eg:

Eu não compreendo.


Eu não estou a compreender.

  • 1
    I'd add what Artefacto mentions in his comment to the OP: we often use the past in Portuguese in such cases. So "Não entendi." etc, are also important options. – stafusa Dec 23 '20 at 23:57

Other valid way of saying is:

  • (Eu) Entendo nada

Which means "I understand nothing (of this/that)".

It is a kind of sharp/more agressive/to the point way of communicate misunderstanding.

The more common way of saying, inside of Portugal, is: "(Eu) Não entendo" which means "I don't understand".

  • 1
    Olá Alexandre, se pudesses ampliar um boacado a resposta incluíndo o pronome pessoal e e verbo auxiliar era fixe. Complementava a outra resposta a esta pergunta e ficava mais completo. Já agora, bem vindo ao portugues.se (não fui que dei o voto para baixo), gostava que me desses uma boa desculpa para eu mandar um voto para cima nisto :) . Vou despdir-me como fazia aquele famoso homem do norte, o Pinto da Costa, "aquele abraço". – bad_coder Dec 26 '20 at 22:43
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    Bem vindo Alexandre! Ia ser interessante se além da 3a sugestão que deste, que esclarecesse qual das 2 opções citadas na pergunta original é mais natural em PT-PT (se possível) já que este é o foco da pergunta inicial! – gmauch Dec 28 '20 at 18:00

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