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Understand appears in the following tongue twister:

  • If you understand, say "understand".
    If you don't understand, say "don't understand".
    But if you understand and say "don't understand",
    how do I understand that you understand. Understand!?

The word understand is considered to be an easy one, according to the Dale-Chall word list, which includes 3000 words that all fourth-grade American students should know and understand.

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Definition of the verb understand

What does understand mean as a doing word?

Understand is one of the top 100 most common verbs in the English language.View more statistics!

verb - inflections:

simple pastpast participlepresent participlethird-person singular

  1. know and comprehend the nature or meaning of
    • examples: She did not understand her husband | I understand what she means | They won't understand the story | Sam and Sue understand the movie
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition]I understand the problem
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition] as [Predicate]I understood it as a joke
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, arbitrary control with -ing]I understand wanting more
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, how-extraction]I understand how she did it
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, possessive with -ing]I understand their wanting more minutes
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, that-complement clause]I understand that he is a good doctor
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, to be]I understand him to be a good doctor
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, wh-complement clause]I understand why we should help them
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, wh-infinitive clause]I understand how to do it
      [Experiencer - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, what-extraction]I understand what we should do

      Verbs of Comprehending (with the same syntax): apprehend, comprehend, fathom, follow, grasp.

    • lexical domain: Cognition - verbs of thinking, judging, analyzing, doubting
    • more specific terms:
  2. perceive (an idea or situation) mentally
  3. make sense of a language
    • example: She understands French
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 1
    • lexical domain: Cognition - verbs of thinking, judging, analyzing, doubting
    • synonyms of understand: interpret / read / translate
  4. believe to be the case
    • examples: I understand you have no previous experience? | They understand him to write the letter
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 1
    • lexical domain: Cognition - verbs of thinking, judging, analyzing, doubting
    • synonym of understand: infer
    • more generic word: believe = accept as true
  5. be understanding of
    • example: You don't need to explain--I understand!
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, how-extraction]I accept how you do it
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, possessive with -ing]I accepted their writing novels
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, that-complement clause]I accepted that they wrote novels
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, what-extraction]I accepted what they were doing
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Proposition, not sentential clause]I accepted it

      Approve Verbs (with the same syntax): accept, discourage, encourage, reject.

    • lexical domain: Cognition - verbs of thinking, judging, analyzing, doubting
    • synonyms of understand: empathise / empathize / sympathise / sympathize

Alternative definition of the verb understand


  1. [transitive] To be aware of the meaning of.
  2. To believe, based on information.
  3. To impute meaning, character etc. that is not explicitly stated.
  4. To apply values (axioms).


Understand is a musical group.

  • albums: "Burning Bushes and Burning Bridges", "Bored Games"


  1. "Understand" a.k.a. "Understand?" is the fourth album by Chicago post-hardcore band Naked Raygun, released in 1989 through Caroline Records.
    • genre: Punk rock
    • released in (27 years ago)
  2. "Understand" is a song by British singer-songwriter, Melanie C. Written by Melanie C and Adam Argyle, it was released as the second and final Canadian single from the album This Time on 25 July 2008. Melanie C performed the song on This Time Canadian Tour.
  3. "Understand" is the debut single and a number-one Christian rock hit by Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp. The song is from Camp's first major-label studio album, Stay, released in 2002.
  4. "Understand" is a musical album of Brian & Brian.
    • released in (24 years ago)
  5. "Understand" is a musical album of Shot Black and White.
    • released in (28 years ago)
  6. "Understand" is a musical single of Nascarr Nat.
    • released on
  7. "Understand" is a musical album of Brave New World.
    • released in (19 years ago)
  8. "Understand" is a composition.
  9. "Understand" is a musical album of Jadis.
    • released in (16 years ago)


"Understand" is a science fiction novelette published in 1991 by Ted Chiang. It was nominated for the 1992 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and won the 1992 Asimov’s Reader Poll. The story has been recorded by Rhashan Stone and broadcast as a four-part series on BBC Radio 7.

  • language: English Language
  • released in (24 years ago)
  • award: - Hugo Award for Best Novelette nomination for Ted Chiang

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Understand

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewOne-Sided Arguments (1999)

A Dialectical Analysis of Bias by Douglas Walton

The first thing to understand is that dialectical bias has to do with how an argument is presented, with how it is used in a context of discourse. The bias is not internal to the argument, so to speak, but is in how the argument is used for a purpose ...

Google previewSams Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in 24 Hours (2012)

by Anne Stanton

The first thing to understand is that items added to a queue will remain in the queue until accepted or added to a different queue, and ownership of the case or activity does not change until someone specifically accepts the item from the queue.

Google previewFour Steps to Revival (2013)

by Dalen Garris

The first principle to understand is that revival is not about feeling good, having exciting church services, or receiving wonderful blessings. Revival is about winning souls – first, foremost, and always. This is the primary reason God sends ...

Google previewIndiana School Journal and Teacher (1889)

To understand is an infinitive used as the subject of the sentence. Better is an adverb modifying to understand. One's is an adjective...

Google preview511 Things Only Women Understand (2012)

by Lorraine Bodger

Things Only Women Understand is a celebration of the funny, ...

Google previewGospel Guitar Encyclopedia (2010)

by William Bay

Understand. it. Better. By. &. By. We are tossed and driven on the restless sea of time Somber skies and howling tempest oft succeed a bright sunshine, In that land of perfect day, When the mists have rolled away, We will understnad it better by ...

Google previewHistorical Dictionary of Logic (2006)

by Harry J. Gensler

understand them better and reason about them in a clearer way. Logic is often highly recommended for students interested in other disciplines that involve close reasoning and argumentation — like law, mathematics, and computer ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Understand

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Usage statistics about understand

The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written.

Usage statistics for the verb understand:

spoken English49.79%written English50.21% conversational speech30.52%task-oriented speech69.48% imaginative writing63.73%informational writing36.27%

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the verb understand:


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Small photo of Millennials couple being amazed by simple toy. Man and woman playing with pink fidget spinner, trying to understand trend.Small photo of UnderstandSmall photo of Serious senior workers are helping their female colleague to understand certain program. Men standing near her workplaceSmall photo of Handwriting text writing Know The Rules. Concept meaning Understand terms and conditions get legal advice from lawyers written Plain Green background Pens next to it.Small photo of Young Asian businesswoman frowning with concern as she tries to understand something she is reading on her laptop computer scratching her head with her pencil in perplexitySmall photo of Portrait of handsome european bearded businessman showing get to the point gesture with crossed hand and pointed palm, over gray background. Guy tries to understand what his friend want to saySmall photo of Writing note showing Understand Motivational Call. Business photo showcasing Know Perceive the meaning of something written on Illustrated background Crumpled Paper Balls next to it. More...

Video language resources about Understand

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Sign language

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Quotes about Understand

I can understand companionship. I can understand bought sex in the afternoon. I cannot understand the love affair. (Gore Vidal)
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Scrabble value of U1N1D2E1R1S1T1A1N1D2

The value of this 10-letter word is 12 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

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