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Comprehend vs. Understand: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
"Comprehend" means to grasp mentally or understand fully, while "understand" implies perceiving the meaning or reason of something.
Comprehend vs. Understand

Key Differences

"Comprehend" is often used to denote a deep level of understanding, implying a thorough mental grasp. In contrast, "understand" is more commonly used and suggests a general awareness or perception of meaning.
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Nov 17, 2023
While "comprehend" typically suggests an intellectual understanding of complex or abstract concepts, "understand" can apply to a broader range of situations, including empathizing with others.
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Nov 17, 2023
"Comprehend" can imply a full and complete understanding, often of more complex matters. "Understand," however, is more versatile, encompassing both simple and complex levels of grasping information or ideas.
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Nov 17, 2023
In educational contexts, "comprehend" might be used to refer to a deep and thorough understanding of a subject, whereas "understand" might be used more broadly to indicate grasping the basics or essentials.
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Nov 17, 2023
When one comprehends, they not only understand the information but also its implications and deeper meanings, while understanding might not always delve into such depths.
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Comparison Chart

Depth of Understanding

Deep and thorough
General and versatile
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Context of Use

Often used for complex or abstract concepts
Applies to a wide range of situations
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Nov 17, 2023

Connotation

Full, complete grasp
Awareness or perception of meaning
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Emotional Connection

More intellectual
Can include empathetic understanding
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Complexity

Usually higher
Ranges from simple to complex
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Comprehend and Understand Definitions

Comprehend

To include, encompass, or cover completely in understanding.
The course comprehended all aspects of the subject.
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Nov 17, 2023

Understand

To have knowledge or grasp of a subject.
They understand the basics of physics.
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Nov 17, 2023

Comprehend

To mentally grasp something in all its details.
She comprehended every detail of the legal document.
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Nov 17, 2023

Understand

To perceive the intended meaning of something.
He understands the instructions clearly.
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Comprehend

To take in the meaning, nature, or importance of; grasp.
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Oct 19, 2023
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Understand

To grasp the significance or reasoning of something.
She understands why the decision was made.
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Nov 17, 2023

Comprehend

To have as part of something larger; encompass or include.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To become aware of the nature and significance of; know or comprehend
She understands the difficulty involved.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To include, comprise; to contain.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To become aware of the intended meaning of (a person or remark, for example)
We understand what they're saying.
We just disagree with it. When he began describing his eccentric theories, we could no longer understand him.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To understand or grasp fully and thoroughly.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To know and be tolerant or sympathetic toward
Hoped that they would understand my complaint.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To contain; to embrace; to include; as, the states comprehended in the Austrian Empire.
Who hath . . . comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To know thoroughly by close contact or long experience with
That teacher understands children. I understand the basics of car repair.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To take in or include by construction or implication; to comprise; to imply.
Comprehended all in this one word, Discretion.
And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To learn indirectly or infer, as from hearsay
I understand his departure was unexpected. Am I to understand you are staying the night?.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To take into the mind; to grasp with the understanding; to apprehend the meaning of; to understand.
At a loss to comprehend the question.
Great things doeth he, which we can not comprehend.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To assume to be or accept as agreed
It is understood that the fee will be $50.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

Get the meaning of something;
Do you comprehend the meaning of this letter?
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To supply or add (words or a meaning, for example) mentally
A verb is understood at the end of the statement "Yes, let's.".
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To become aware of through the senses;
I could perceive the ship coming over the horizon
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To have understanding, knowledge, or comprehension.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

Include in scope; include as part of something broader; have as one's sphere or territory;
This group encompasses a wide range of people from different backgrounds
This should cover everyone in the group
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To have sympathy or tolerance
You're upset. I understand.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To fully grasp or understand something deeply.
She comprehended the abstract theory after much study.
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Nov 17, 2023

Understand

To learn something indirectly or secondhand; gather.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To mentally grasp the full implications of something.
He comprehended the significance of the historical event.
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Nov 17, 2023

Understand

(transitive) To grasp a concept fully in one's mind, especially (of words, statements, art, etc.) to be aware of the meaning of and (of people) to be aware of the intent of.
I'm sorry. I don't understand.
Please try to understand. It's not you, it's me.
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Oct 19, 2023

Comprehend

To understand or perceive something complex.
The student comprehended the intricate math problem.
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Nov 17, 2023

Understand

To believe, to think one grasps sufficiently despite potentially incomplete knowledge.
I understand that you have a package for me?
In the imperative mood, the word “you” is usually understood.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To stand underneath, to support.
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Understand

To have just and adequate ideas of; to apprehended the meaning or intention of; to have knowledge of; to comprehend; to know; as, to understand a problem in Euclid; to understand a proposition or a declaration; the court understands the advocate or his argument; to understand the sacred oracles; to understand a nod or a wink.
Speaketh [i. e., speak thou] so plain at this time, I you pray,That we may understande what ye say.
I understand not what you mean by this.
Understood not all was but a show.
A tongue not understanded of the people.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To be apprised, or have information, of; to learn; to be informed of; to hear; as, I understand that Congress has passed the bill.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To recognize or hold as being or signifying; to suppose to mean; to interpret; to explain.
The most learned interpreters understood the words of sin, and not of Abel.
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Understand

To mean without expressing; to imply tacitly; to take for granted; to assume.
War, then, war,Open or understood, must be resolved.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To stand under; to support.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To have the use of the intellectual faculties; to be an intelligent being.
Imparadised in you, in whom aloneI understand, and grow, and see.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To be informed; to have or receive knowledge.
I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah.
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

Know and comprehend the nature or meaning of;
She did not understand her husband
I understand what she means
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

Perceive (an idea or situation) mentally;
Now I see!
I just can't see your point
Does she realize how important this decision is?
I don't understand the idea
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

Make sense of a language;
She understands French
Can you read Greek?
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Understand

Believe to be the case;
I understand you have no previous experience?
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Understand

Be understanding of;
You don't need to explain--I understand!
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Oct 19, 2023

Understand

To empathize or relate to someone’s feelings or experiences.
I understand your frustration with the situation.
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Nov 17, 2023

Understand

To interpret or view something in a particular way.
He understands the poem in a unique way.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does "comprehend" mean?

"Comprehend" means to fully grasp or understand something in depth.
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Nov 17, 2023

Is "comprehend" used for simple concepts?

"Comprehend" is typically used for more complex or abstract concepts.
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Nov 17, 2023

Does "comprehend" involve emotional understanding?

"Comprehend" is usually more intellectual, less about emotional understanding.
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Nov 17, 2023

Can "comprehend" and "understand" be used interchangeably?

In some contexts, they can be, but "comprehend" often implies deeper understanding.
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Nov 17, 2023

Can "understand" be used in informal settings?

Yes, "understand" is widely used in both formal and informal contexts.
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Nov 17, 2023

Does "comprehend" involve practical application?

"Comprehend" often relates more to theoretical understanding than practical.
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Nov 17, 2023

Can "comprehend" imply understanding details?

Yes, "comprehend" often implies grasping all the details of a concept.
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Nov 17, 2023

What is the basic meaning of "understand"?

"Understand" means to perceive the meaning or reason of something.
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Nov 17, 2023

Can "understand" refer to basic comprehension?

Yes, "understand" often implies a basic or general grasp of a concept.
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Nov 17, 2023

Does "understand" apply to emotions?

Yes, "understand" can also refer to empathizing with feelings or motives.
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Nov 17, 2023

Is "understand" used for complex theories?

"Understand" can be used for both simple and complex ideas or theories.
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Nov 17, 2023

Is "comprehend" a common term in daily conversation?

"Comprehend" is less common and more formal than "understand."
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Nov 17, 2023

Are there different levels of understanding?

Yes, understanding can range from basic awareness to deep comprehension.
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Nov 17, 2023

Is "comprehend" often used in educational settings?

Yes, "comprehend" is commonly used in academic or educational contexts.
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Nov 17, 2023

Does "comprehend" have synonyms?

Yes, synonyms include grasp, apprehend, and fathom.
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Nov 17, 2023

How do "comprehend" and "understand" differ in depth?

"Comprehend" implies deeper, more thorough understanding than "understand."
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Nov 17, 2023

Are "understand" and "comprehend" different in teaching contexts?

In teaching, "understand" is more general, while "comprehend" suggests deeper insight.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "understand" imply practical knowledge?

Yes, "understand" can imply practical knowledge or application.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "understand" include understanding people?

Yes, "understand" can include understanding people's thoughts and feelings.
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Nov 17, 2023

Does "comprehend" suggest a complete understanding?

Generally, "comprehend" implies a complete and thorough understanding.
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Nov 17, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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