Get vs. Understand: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on November 14, 2023
"Get" generally refers to acquiring or receiving something, while "Understand" means comprehending or grasping the meaning of something.
In communication, one might "get" a message (receive it), but this does not guarantee that they "understand" the message (comprehend its content and intent).
In the context of learning, to "get" information could simply mean to receive it, without necessarily processing it deeply. "Understand", however, implies a deeper cognitive process where the information is not only received but also thoroughly comprehended.
"Get" often implies the action of receiving or acquiring something, be it tangible or intangible, such as information. On the other hand, "Understand" goes beyond mere acquisition, delving into the realm of comprehending and making sense of what is received.
"Get" can also imply success in achieving or grasping something, but this does not inherently include understanding it. Conversely, "Understand" specifically refers to the mental process of grasping the meaning, implications, or importance of something.
Finally, "Get" is a versatile word with many meanings, including acquiring, receiving, becoming, or grasping, while "Understand" is more specialized, focusing solely on the cognitive aspect of comprehending or making sense of something.
Acquire or receive
Comprehend or grasp meaning
Usage in Sentences
Used to indicate obtaining or receiving
Used to indicate comprehension
Broad, including acquiring objects, information, or states
Primarily cognitive, relating to processing and comprehending information
Can imply physical or informational acquisition
Implies mental processing and insight
Versatile, used in various contexts
More focused on mental and interpretive aspects
Get and Understand Definitions
Did you get the joke the comedian told?
He understands the poem in a unique way.
He got very excited about the news.
I understand how difficult this decision must be for you.
She got to the station just in time.
She understands your frustration.
Cause to be
Please get the door closed before the cat escapes.
To become aware of the nature and significance of; know or comprehend
She understands the difficulty involved.
To come into possession or use of; receive
Got a cat for her birthday.
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.
To meet with or incur
Got nothing but trouble for her efforts.
To know and be tolerant or sympathetic toward
Hoped that they would understand my complaint.
To go after and obtain
Got a book at the library.
Got breakfast in town.
To know thoroughly by close contact or long experience with
That teacher understands children. I understand the basics of car repair.
To go after and bring
Get me a pillow.
To learn indirectly or infer, as from hearsay
I understand his departure was unexpected. Am I to understand you are staying the night?.
To purchase; buy
To assume to be or accept as agreed
It is understood that the fee will be $50.
To acquire as a result of action or effort
He got his information from the internet. You can't get water out of a stone.
To supply or add (words or a meaning, for example) mentally
A verb is understood at the end of the statement "Yes, let's.".
Got high marks in math.
To have understanding, knowledge, or comprehension.
To accomplish or attain as a result of military action.
To have sympathy or tolerance
You're upset. I understand.
To obtain by concession or request
Couldn't get the time off.
Got permission to go.
To learn something indirectly or secondhand; gather.
To arrive at; reach
When did you get home?.
(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.
To reach and board; catch
She got her plane two minutes before takeoff.
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.
To succeed in communicating with, as by telephone
Can't get me at the office until nine.
To stand underneath, to support.
To become affected with (an illness, for example) by infection or exposure; catch
Get the flu.
Got the mumps.
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.
To be subjected to; undergo
Got a severe concussion.
To be apprised, or have information, of; to learn; to be informed of; to hear; as, I understand that Congress has passed the bill.
To receive as retribution or punishment
Got six years in prison for tax fraud.
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.
To sustain a specified injury to
Got my arm broken.
To mean without expressing; to imply tacitly; to take for granted; to assume.
War, then, war,Open or understood, must be resolved.
To perceive or become aware of by one of the senses
Get a whiff of perfume.
Got a look at the schedule.
To stand under; to support.
To gain or have understanding of
Do you get this question?.
To have the use of the intellectual faculties; to be an intelligent being.
Imparadised in you, in whom aloneI understand, and grow, and see.
To learn (a poem, for example) by heart; memorize.
To be informed; to have or receive knowledge.
I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah.
To find or reach by calculating
Get a total.
Can't get the answer.
Know and comprehend the nature or meaning of;
She did not understand her husband
I understand what she means
To procreate; beget
“Is my life given me for nothing but to get children and work to bring them up?” (D.H. Lawrence).
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
To cause to become or be in a specified state or condition
Got the children tired and cross.
Got the shirt clean.
Make sense of a language;
She understands French
Can you read Greek?
To make ready; prepare
Get lunch for the family.
Believe to be the case;
I understand you have no previous experience?
To cause to come or go
Got the car through traffic.
Be understanding of;
You don't need to explain--I understand!
To cause to move or leave
Get me out of here!.
I understand the basics of quantum physics.
To cause to undertake or perform; prevail on
Got the guide to give us the complete tour.
Grasp the meaning
Do you understand the implications of your actions?
To take, especially by force; seize
The detective got the suspect as he left the restaurant.
(Informal) To overcome or destroy
The ice storm got the rose bushes.
To evoke an emotional response or reaction in
Romantic music really gets me.
To annoy or irritate
What got me was his utter lack of initiative.
To present a difficult problem to; puzzle
“It's the suspect's indifference that gets me,” the detective said.
To take revenge on, especially to kill in revenge for a wrong.
(Informal) To hit or strike
She got him on the chin. The bullet got him in the arm.
(Baseball) To put out or strike out
Got the batter with a cut fastball.
To begin or start. Used with the present participle
I have to get working on this or I'll miss my deadline.
To have current possession of. Used in the present perfect form with the meaning of the present
We've got plenty of cash.
(Nonstandard) To have current possession of. Used in the past tense form with the meaning of the present
They got a nice house in town.
To have as an obligation. Used in the present perfect form with the meaning of the present
I have got to leave early. You've got to do the dishes.
(Nonstandard) To have as an obligation. Used in the past tense with the meaning of the present
They got to clean up this mess.
To become or grow to be
Eventually got well.
To be successful in coming or going
When will we get to Dallas?.
To be able or permitted
Never got to see Europe.
Finally got to work at home.
To be successful in becoming
Get free of a drug problem.
Used with the past participle of transitive verbs as a passive voice auxiliary
Got stung by a bee.
To become drawn in, entangled, or involved
Got into debt.
Get into a hassle.
(Informal) To depart immediately
Yelled at the dog to get.
To work for gain or profit; make money
Do you feel as though you're exhausting yourself getting and not making enough for spending?.
A thoroughbred's get.
Chiefly British Slang git2.
(Sports) A return, as in tennis, on a shot that seems impossible to reach.
A document presented by a husband to his wife whereby a divorce is effected between them according to Jewish religious law.
A divorce effected by a get.
(ditransitive) To obtain; to acquire.
I'm going to get a computer tomorrow from the discount store.
Lance is going to get Mary a ring.
(transitive) To receive.
I got a computer from my parents for my birthday.
You need to get permission to leave early.
He got a severe reprimand for that.
To have. See usage notes.
I've got a concert ticket for you.
(transitive) To fetch, bring, take.
Can you get my bag from the living-room, please?
I need to get this to the office.
(copulative) To become, or cause oneself to become.
I'm getting hungry; how about you?
I'm going out to get drunk.
(transitive) To cause to become; to bring about.
That song gets me so depressed every time I hear it.
I'll get this finished by lunchtime.
I can't get these boots off (or on).
(transitive) To cause to do.
Somehow she got him to agree to it.
I can't get it to work.
(transitive) To cause to come or go or move.
I got him to his room.
To adopt, assume, arrive at, or progress towards (a certain position, location, state).
The actors are getting into position.
When are we going to get to London?
I'm getting into a muddle.
We got behind the wall.
(transitive) To cover (a certain distance) while travelling.
To get a mile
(intransitive) To begin (doing something or to do something).
We ought to get moving or we'll be late.
After lunch we got chatting.
I'm getting to like him better now.
(transitive) To take or catch (a scheduled transportation service).
I normally get the 7:45 train.
I'll get the 9 a.m. [flight] to Boston.
(transitive) To respond to (a telephone call, a doorbell, etc).
Can you get that call, please? I'm busy.
To be able, be permitted, or have the opportunity (to do something desirable or ironically implied to be desirable).
I'm so jealous that you got to see them perform live!
The finders get to keep 80 percent of the treasure.
Great. I get to clean the toilets today.
To be told; be the recipient of (a question, comparison, opinion, etc.).
"You look just like Helen Mirren." / "I get that a lot."
(informal) To be. Used to form the passive of verbs.
He got bitten by a dog.
(transitive) To become ill with or catch (a disease).
I went on holiday and got malaria.
To catch out, trick successfully.
He keeps calling pretending to be my boss—it gets me every time.
To perplex, stump.
That question's really got me.
(transitive) To find as an answer.
What did you get for question four?
To bring to reckoning; to catch (as a criminal); to effect retribution.
The cops finally got me.
I'm gonna get him for that.
(transitive) To hear completely; catch.
Sorry, I didn't get that. Could you repeat it?
(transitive) To getter.
I put the getter into the container to get the gases.
To beget (of a father).
(archaic) To learn; to commit to memory; to memorize; sometimes with out.
To get a lesson;
To get out one's Greek lesson
Used with a personal pronoun to indicate that someone is being pretentious or grandiose.
Get her with her new hairdo.
To go, to leave; to scram.
(euphemism) To kill.
They’re coming to get you, Barbara.
To make acquisitions; to gain; to profit.
(transitive) To measure.
Did you get her temperature?
A difficult return or block of a shot.
(informal) Something gained; an acquisition.
(Judaism) A Jewish writ of divorce.
Jet, the mineral.
Fashion; manner; custom.
Offspring; progeny; as, the get of a stallion.
A divorce granted by a Rabbi in accordance with Jewish law; also, the document attesting to the divorce.
To procure; to obtain; to gain possession of; to acquire; to earn; to obtain as a price or reward; to come by; to win, by almost any means; as, to get favor by kindness; to get wealth by industry and economy; to get land by purchase, etc.
Hence, with have and had, to come into or be in possession of; to have.
Thou hast got the face of man.
To beget; to procreate; to generate.
I had rather to adopt a child than get it.
To obtain mental possession of; to learn; to commit to memory; to memorize; as to get a lesson; also with out; as, to get out one's Greek lesson.
It being harder with him to get one sermon by heart, than to pen twenty.
To prevail on; to induce; to persuade.
Get him to say his prayers.
To procure to be, or to cause to be in any state or condition; - with a following participle.
Those things I bid you do; get them dispatched.
To betake; to remove; - in a reflexive use.
Get thee out from this land.
He . . . got himself . . . to the strong town of Mega.
To make acquisition; to gain; to profit; to receive accessions; to be increased.
We mourn, France smiles; we lose, they daily get.
To arrive at, or bring one's self into, a state, condition, or position; to come to be; to become; - with a following adjective or past participle belonging to the subject of the verb; as, to get sober; to get awake; to get beaten; to get elected.
To get rid of fools and scoundrels.
His chariot wheels get hot by driving fast.
Come into the possession of something concrete or abstract;
She got a lot of paintings from her uncle
They acquired a new pet
Get your results the next day
Get permission to take a few days off from work
Enter or assume a certain state or condition;
He became annoyed when he heard the bad news
It must be getting more serious
Her face went red with anger
She went into ecstasy
Cause to move; cause to be in a certain position or condition;
He got his squad on the ball
This let me in for a big surprise
He got a girl into trouble
Receive a specified treatment (abstract);
These aspects of civilization do not find expression or receive an interpretation
His movie received a good review
I got nothing but trouble for my good intentions
Reach a destination; arrive by movement or progress;
She arrived home at 7 o'clock
She didn't get to Chicago until after midnight
Go or come after and bring or take back;
Get me those books over there, please
Could you bring the wine?
The dog fetched the hat
Of mental or physical states or experiences;
Get an idea
Undergo a strange sensation
The chemical undergoes a sudden change
The fluid undergoes shear
Have a feeling
Take vengeance on or get even;
We'll get them!
That'll fix him good!
This time I got him
Achieve a point or goal;
Nicklaus had a 70
The Brazilian team got 4 goals
She made 29 points that day
Cause to do; cause to act in a specified manner;
The ads induced me to buy a VCR
My children finally got me to buy a computer
My wife made me buy a new sofa
Succeed in catching or seizing, especially after a chase;
We finally got the suspect
Did you catch the thief?
Come to have or undergo a change of (physical features and attributes);
He grew a beard
The patient developed abdominal pains
I got funny spots all over my body
Be stricken by an illness, fall victim to an illness;
He got AIDS
She came down with pneumonia
She took a chill
Communicate with a place or person; establish communication with, as if by telephone;
Bill called this number and he got Mary
The operator couldn't get Kobe because of the earthquake
Give certain properties to something;
Get someone mad
She made us look silly
He made a fool of himself at the meeting
Don't make this into a big deal
This invention will make you a millionaire
Make yourself clear
Move into a desired direction of discourse;
What are you driving at?
Grasp with the mind or develop an undersatnding of;
Did you catch that allusion?
We caught something of his theory in the lecture
Don't catch your meaning
Did you get it?
She didn't get the joke
I just don't get him
Attract and fix;
His look caught her
She caught his eye
Catch the attention of the waiter
Reach with a blow or hit in a particular spot;
The rock caught her in the back of the head
The blow got him in the back
The punch caught him in the stomach
Reach by calculation;
What do you get when you add up these numbers?
Acquire as a result of some effort or action;
You cannot get water out of a stone
Where did she get these news?
What did you get at the toy store?
Perceive by hearing;
I didn't catch your name
She didn't get his name when they met the first time
Suffer from the receipt of;
She will catch hell for this behavior!
Receive as a retribution or punishment;
He got 5 years in prison
Leave immediately; used usually in the imperative form;
Reach and board;
She got the bus just as it was leaving
Her childish behavior really get to me
His lying really gets me
Evoke an emotional response;
Brahms's `Requiem' gets me every time
Apprehend and reproduce accurately;
She really caught the spirit of the place in her drawings
She got the mood just right in her photographs
In baseball: earn or achieve a base by being walked by the pitcher;
He drew a base on balls
Overcome or destroy;
The ice storm got my hibiscus
The cat got the goldfish
Be a mystery or bewildering to;
This beats me!
Got me--I don't know the answer!
A vexing problem
This question really stuck me
Take the first step or steps in carrying out an action;
We began working at dawn
Who will start?
Get working as soon as the sun rises!
The first tourists began to arrive in Cambodia
He began early in the day
Let's get down to work now
Undergo (as of injuries and illnesses);
She suffered a fracture in the accident
He had an insulin shock after eating three candy bars
She got a bruise on her leg
He got his arm broken in the scuffle
Abraham begot Isaac
Men often father children but don't recognize them
I managed to get the book I wanted from the library.
Repeatedly Asked Queries
Can "get" indicate physical movement?
Yes, like in "get to the store."
What does "get" mean in a basic sense?
It typically means to acquire or receive something.
Is "understand" used in formal writing?
Yes, it's common in both formal and informal contexts.
Is "understand" only about intellectual comprehension?
Primarily, but it can also include emotional empathy.
How is "get" used in questions?
Often to inquire about receipt or understanding, like "Did you get the email?"
Is "get" used in idiomatic expressions?
Yes, frequently, like "get going" or "get lost."
Can "get" imply understanding?
Yes, in some contexts, like "Did you get what I said?"
Can "understand" be used in different tenses?
Yes, it follows regular verb conjugation rules.
Can "understand" be used interchangeably with "realize"?
Sometimes, but "realize" often implies a sudden insight.
Are there synonyms for "get"?
Yes, like acquire, obtain, receive.
Does "understand" have different forms?
Yes, like understanding, understood, understands.
Can "get" mean to become?
Yes, like in "get tired."
Can "get" be used as a command?
Yes, like "Get me that book."
Does "understand" have synonyms?
Yes, such as comprehend, grasp, perceive.
Is "get" appropriate in academic writing?
It depends on context but is generally acceptable.
Can "get" be used in a passive form?
Yes, like "The message was gotten."
Is "get" informal?
It's versatile and used in both formal and informal settings.
Does "understand" imply depth?
Yes, it suggests a deep comprehension.
Is "understand" a cognitive or emotional process?
Primarily cognitive, but it can involve emotional aspects.
How is "understand" different from "know"?
"Understand" implies depth and comprehension, while "know" can be more about familiarity.
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Written byShumaila 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.