Languages › Mandarin Zhidao - Daily Mandarin Lesson Saying "I Know" Share Flipboard Email Print Mandarin Vocabulary Mandarin History and Culture Pronunciation Understanding Chinese Characters By Qiu Gui Su Chinese Language Expert Qiu Gui Su is a native Mandarin speaker who has taught Mandarin Chinese for over 20 years. our editorial process Qiu Gui Su Updated April 28, 2017 When learning a new language and practicing it with native speakers, you often need to indicate your knowledge of the topic. In Mandarin you use zhīdao (know) and bù zhīdào (don’t know). These are used as you would expect if translated directly from English. If you get asked a question, the most natural way of saying you don't know is wǒ bù zhīdào (I don’t know). Zhīdao is made up of two characters: 知道. The first character 知 (zhī) means "to know,” or “to be aware” and the second character 道 (dào) means “truth,” or “principle.” Dào also means “direction” or “path” and in this context it forms the first character of “Daoism” (Taoism). Pleas note that this word is also commonly pronounced with a neutral tone on the second syllable, so both zhīdao and zhīdào are common. Examples of Zhidao Qǐngwèn, sheí zhīdao nǎli yǒu yóujú?請問, 誰知道哪裡有郵局?请问, 谁知道哪里有邮局?Excuse me, does anyone know where the post office is?Wǒ bù zhīdào.我不知道｡我不知道｡I don’t know. There are more words that have a similar meaning in Mandarin, so let's look at how zhīdào related to words like 明白 (míngbai) and 了解 (liǎojiě). Both these are better translated as "understand", compared to just knowing about something. 明白 (míngbai) has the added meaning that something is not just understood, but also clear. This is typically used to ask if someone understands something that was just explained or to express that you understand what your teacher just explained. Zhīdào is more commonly used when you just want to say that you have noted a fact someone mentioned or that you're aware of something. Update: This article was significantly updated by Olle Linge on May 7thth, 2016.