Difference Between Knowing And Understanding

Difference Between Knowing And Understanding
Knowing Vs Understanding

There is a subtle but crucial difference between knowing and understanding. Do you want to know what it is? Then stick to the article till the end. 

But you may know it already, right? If somebody knows something, then why they will waste their precious time on a lengthy article? I think I have an answer to the question, “because you don’t understand it!” Not funny? Ok, let’s talk about the main topic.

For a better idea about anything, we always have to grasp their meaning well. Without a decent view of the matter, it is easy to go on the wrong path. So at first, let’s try to find the meaning of these seemingly synonymical words. Like any ordinary human on earth, I google their definition, and it gave me these results: 

Knowing – “showing or suggesting that one has knowledge or awareness that is secret or known to only a few people.”

Understanding – “the ability to understand something.” It didn’t give us a good purport for the word. So I dug more deeply and search for the meaning of Understand. 

Understand – “be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of.”

From this definition, it is clear that; when you understand something, you can form an opinion or view about the subject. But with only knowing, it is hard to articulate somebody anything about the subject. Let alone making any opinion. 

Let’s see an example,

The Apple Example 

In the past, Europeans knew that an apple falls on the ground whenever it detaches from the tree. What they didn’t understand was the reason why this phenomenon was happening. But one day, a person who is notorious in the realms of Engineers, and you may also hear about him in your physics book. He discovered the reason and explained it to the rest of the world. 

Newton was sitting beneath an apple tree and suddenly notice that the apple always falls to the ground, not on the sky. And because he was a curious being, he tried to investigate the matter, and during that investigation, gravity was born. No, that’s not mean he is the father of gravity. It was always there but without anyone’s acknowledgement. 

Everybody knew that an apple will always fall to the ground and might have joked about Newton when he asked the question. But the clever scientist wanted to understand the reason knowing was not enough for him. 

I think now you may get some idea on this matter. So you can discontinue this article and read other thought-provoking pieces in this blog. But still, if there is some question in your mind then, please continue, I am glad to write more for you.  

Here is another example I think many people can more relate to, 

Class Example

Did anybody ever notice when we studied in small classes where the concepts are more like facts? Our school prepare us for the real deal. After getting into higher grades (or in college), you finally get to know the reason behind the concept. For example, if there is some formula in your class nine’s book, then maybe in college, you will understand the backend of it.

One time, because this concept was uncleared to me, I suffered a lot. I used to think that I am dumb, and all my classmates were Albert Einstien! They can do maths, can answer questions of physics and chemistry punctually. Like it was they who have invented those formulas and concepts. They can also understand anything more promptly, which I never did. What were they? Superhuman! 

That was not the case! It occurred to me in the later years; they didn’t understand anything but just knowing the facts. And if you wanted to get good marks then, that was the right thing they were doing. With this, we can say that we need both. 

Why We Need Both 

If you read the article with attention, then you may comprehend it already that; deep knowledge about how anything is functioning is understanding. And having a surface knowledge or just having the idea that something is happening is knowing. 

But then, isn’t it enough to understand something? 

No, that’s not true. 

We, humans, have a brain that has limited storage capacity. So you may have understood something in the past, but you will soon forget it if there is not enough practice. So, in the end, you ultimately know that thing. But that’s not also mean you stop understanding things. Because if that happens, then the greatest inventions may have never happened. And you will have nothing to know because there will be nothing new. You can always understand something and log it down on the internet or in a notebook. 

Here I also have to mention that sometimes things may be unclear to you. But with time, things will get clear. Only knowing about something helps a lot to understand the reason. 


In the end, I will only say that if you want to excel in anything, you have to understand the system. But that takes time. And you can’t remember every understanding, but understanding helps to remember things. So be patient, gather knowledge and enjoy the joy of becoming great!

I hope you liked this article on Knowing Vs Understanding. If you do, then don’t forget to share it on your social handles. Thank You. 🙂

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