A person who understands something has learned its meaning or its value. This word is similar to the word "comprehend."

simplepastpast participle

When a person has problems understanding something, you’ll often hear comments like these:

  • She doesn’t understand what the teacher said.
  • The students are trying to understand the lesson.
  • Mario didn’t understand what he read.
  • I’m afraid I don’t understand.
  • This is difficult to understand.
  • Reba failed to understand the meaning.
  • The contract was not completely understood.

This word is also used when expressing frustration:

  • I don’t understand why this toaster isn’t working.
  • It’s hard to understand why you did that.
  • Tina fails to understand her children.
  • Bob doesn’t understand why his girlfriend is so upset.
  • I don’t understand why you are so angry at me.
  • I’m sorry I’m not making myself understood. (This is kind of an expression. It means that there’s some failure in communication.)
  • Jorge doesn’t understand women.
  • I don’t understand you.

man by a computer He doesn’t understand what’s wrong with his computer.

When a person does understand, these kinds of statements are fairly common:

  • I finally understand.
  • He’s beginning to understand.
  • She understands what you are saying.
  • They understand the lesson.
  • Our responsibilities are understood.
  • It’s understood that everyone will keep quiet about this situation.

Notice that this verb is not used in continuous forms. If you ever hear an "ing" ending at the end of the word "understand," it’s being used as a noun:

  • They have a mutual understanding. (They have an agreement.)
  • My understanding was that the delivery would be made at 2:00, but now it’s 4:00.
  • Her understanding of English is limited.
  • He has a good understanding of why he’s being punished.
  • Understanding how people think will make it easier to get along with them.
  • Understanding and respecting other cultures and languages will lead to a more peaceful world.

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April 21, 2014