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Understanding ‘Entiendo’ and ‘Comprendo’: Detailed Differences

Understanding ‘Entiendo’ and ‘Comprendo’: Detailed Differences

Spanish is widely regarded as one of the easiest languages to pick up as a native English speaker. Not only for English speakers but also for people who are well-acquainted with the Romance languages. This is primarily due to the fact that Spanish has many grammatical and vocabulary similarities with the English lingua.

You’ve surely heard your Spanish-speaking friends use the term “Entiendo” in their speech, and you’ve also heard them use the term “Comprendo” being used by them as well. For a non-native brain, they seem to be using these terms in similar sentences.

Well, although these two very similar words carry the same meaning in a sense. They are also slightly different from one another, especially in situational usage. 

Join me as I break down their complete meaning, situational usage, and history.

What is Entender?

Entender or Entendio, in its literal sense, translates to “understand” “grasp” “infer” or “believe”. Although there are many synonyms that can be associated with this word, the best-fitting translatory word in the English language is “understand’. 

Here are a few examples to make your Entiendas (understand) better: 

  • Usted no entendió lo que dije.

Look, you don’t understand what I am saying.

  • Tu compañía lo entendió todo mal.

Your company has got it all wrong.

What is Comprendo?

It’s derived from the Spanish word “Comprender” which means “to understand’ in English. Whereas comprendo directly translates to “understand” or more accurately, “comprehend”.

Here are some examples, reading these will hopefully make you properly Comprender (comprehend) them.

  •  No comprendo lo que dices

I do not understand what you say.

  •   comprendo como te sientes

 I do understand how you are feeling.

  • Este teorema es difícil de comprender.

 This theorem is difficult to comprehend.

  • Necesitas comprender la dificultad de esta tarea.

 You need to understand the difficulty of this task.

  • Las matemáticas son un tema difícil de comprender.

 Maths is a difficult subject to comprehend.

Difference Between Entiendo and Comprendo?

The Spanish Royal Academy’s dictionary considers Comprender as “understanding” in the sense of comprehending, including, accepting, and identifying something from an external source.

For example, “I understand your concern” or “I understand your pain.”This is something you can not only understand but also comprehend.

The same dictionary has multiple other translations for entender, i.e understanding only with the sense of knowing the minor details of something, or knowing the internal logic or meaning of it.

Entender is basically when you get a grasp of an idea, a glimpse of its meaning, or the sense of a certain situation, you know the gist of something. However, Comprender is used when one has not only a glimpse but a complete understanding of something or a situation.

For example, you can understand that people who go to war come back broken, traumatized, and with certain dissociation issues. It makes them a shell of the human they once were.

However, that doesn’t mean you comprehend their pain. It’s because in order to comprehend you experience that traumatizing situation firsthand.

A soldier who once was a civilian could not comprehend the change he/she would experience until it actually happened. He understood the horrors of war but now he comprehends it.

In order to get a full experience of it, you have to comprehend it. Simply understanding it won’t do.

How Do You Use Entiendo?

In Spanish, these verbs can be used differently in situational settings, although many don’t know this, even though this is something that everybody uses in daily conversations.

Entiendio is a bit more casual than comprendo. In a workplace setting or when addressing seniors or teachers, it’s generally preferred to use the term “comprendo” instead of “extender”.

For example, when speaking with relatives or friends you can use Entiendo for everything. When conversing with a company worker or co-worker, you’ll sound more professional if you use comprendo. It’s a bit more appropriate.

What Does It Mean To Comprehend?

You can understand something but not comprehend it. Understanding is superficial, -I would describe comprehending as a deeper and more complete level of understanding.

For example, watching a video on a subject, you’ll understand that subject (entender) but studying that subject would make you comprehend (comprendo) it.

One could also consider comprendo as dealing with something that requires more ability. The mental capacity to grasp something. Consider this, I could say “I understand German, but I comprehend physics.”

For German, I either know what the words mean or I don’t, it’s not a conceptual leap. For physics, I actually need to see the world in a different way in order to comprehend it.

In short, they can be used pretty much interchangeably but Comprender can suggest a deeper type of understanding. Here’s a youtube video that should help you the differences better.

Really informative!

When Should I Use Entendio and When Should I Use Comprendo? 

If I say something in Spanish to an English speaker, for instance, after saying it, I could add the rhetoric question “¿Me Entiendes?” (Do you understand me?). With this question, I simply want to know whether the English person has understood the words I just said. 

If you are telling someone an anecdote, a problem, or an opinion. You could add at the end the question “¿Me Comprendes?” (Do you get what I am saying?) This is not a rhetorical question. Instead of wanting to know if my companion heard and understood what I just said correctly.

With this, I want to know if my friend understands and is fully comprehending my question. The implications of what I just told really understand why I did what I did.

That being said, we native speakers do usually mix them up. Sometimes we actually use entender when we “should” be using Comprender. So you are quite safe interchanging them, no one would bat an eye.

Take a look at the data table below to deepen your understanding of the situational usage of these verbs.

SentenceWould Entiendio fit?Would Comprender fit?
I’m sure you’ll understand when you see it.YesNo
Who understands this equation?.YesYes
I realized that I forgot my book.YesNo
I know this subject is difficult to comprehend, but you’ll get the hang of itNoYes
Do you understand how serious this issue is?YesYes
An accurate breakdown of the subtle difference between these two verbs.

Table explaining the situational usage of Entendio and Comprender.

Bottom Line

Take a look at the key information if this article:

  • Both are synonyms and mean the same thing, however, comprendo more accurately translates to “comprehend” rather than understand.
  • Comprendo is used when you want to explain something that requires a deeper level of understanding, rather than just understanding the gist of it.
  • Comprendo is also more formal than Entender and is more appropriate when addressing a senior, a person in power, or a respectable figure.
  • In a casual setting, it is more than fine to just use them interchangeably, due to their very similar meaning. So you don’t need to worry about it.

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