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Old 21st October 2010, 07:49 PM   #1
cronos
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Default entender o comprender?

I notice that in a lot of places one of the first words you learn in spanish is the verb entender and in others it is comprender, both meaning to understand. In english we have to comprehend and to understand but they are used in different ways, we wouldn't say 'i comprehend you', but the spanish verbs seem to be used equivalently in beginners courses. Do they actually have equivalent meanings or would you use one rather than the other in certain situations and phrases?
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Old 22nd October 2010, 01:54 AM   #2
Norberto
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Hello Cronos,

Those words 'entender' and 'comprender' are synonyms that have some definitions in common, and other different meanings. When used as synonyms, they mean exactly the same, you can say 'Yo entiendo lo que dices' or 'Yo comprendo lo que dices', and both have the same meaning 'I understand what you say'
If I had to draw a thin line between when to use one or another, I would say that 'entender' is more 'understand what you say' and 'comprender' is 'understand your acts or your thoughts', there is even a saying in Spanish, 'Te entiendo pero no te comprendo' , a nonsense if you don't have that thin line in mind, but as I said, this is just figurative 'para que comprendas cómo yo lo entiendo'.

Then you have the other acceptations of the words, for example 'entender' means 'being gay', if you are a man, and another ask you in Chueca '¿ tú entiendes ?' without no apparent reason, then now you 'comprendes' what he is asking you.
Also 'comprender' means for example 'to include', 'Extremadura comprende Cáceres y Badajoz'.

You can use then also to avoid reiteration.

Espero haberme hecho entender (comprender) y que hayas comprendido (entendido) mi explicación.

I know I could explain this better in Spanish, but how could you correct my English then ?
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Old 22nd October 2010, 02:42 AM   #3
Uriel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norberto View Post
Hello Cronos,

Those words 'entender' and 'comprender' are synonyms that have some definitions in common, and other different meanings. When used as synonyms, they mean exactly the same thing, you can say 'Yo entiendo lo que dices' or 'Yo comprendo lo que dices', and both have the same meaning 'I understand what you say'
If I had to draw a thin line between when to use one or another, I would say that 'entender' is more 'understand what you say' and 'comprender' is 'understand your acts or your thoughts', there is even a saying in Spanish, 'Te entiendo pero no te comprendo' , a nonsense if you don't have that thin line in mind, but as I said, this is just figurative 'para que comprendas cómo yo lo entiendo'. (Sort of like in English we might say, "I understand you but I don't really get you.")

Then you have the other acceptations meanings/connotations of the words, for example 'entender' means 'being gay', if you are a man, and another asks you in Chueca '¿ tú entiendes ?' without no any apparent reason, then now you 'comprendes' what he is asking you.
Also 'comprender' means for example 'to include', 'Extremadura comprende Cáceres y Badajoz'. (This would be like "comprises" or "is comprised of", I suppose.)

You can use them also to avoid reiteration.

Espero haberme hecho entender (comprender) y que hayas comprendido (entendido) mi explicación.

I know I could explain this better in Spanish, but how could you correct my English then ?
The things in blue are suggestions or comments; the red are just minor grammatical corrections.

¡Gracias por tu explicación!
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Old 22nd October 2010, 07:27 AM   #4
Beckett
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Cronos,
Here's a previous discussion thread where this same question was asked: http://www.notesfromspain.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6683

Here's what I wrote previously on the subject of entender vs. comprender:

Regarding entender and comprender, you entender with your ears but comprender with your brain.

Think of "entender" as general understanding and "comprender" as understanding concepts/ideas or understanding the significance of something.

For example, let's say you go to a party and start chatting with a guy who just so happens to be a nuclear scientist. You ask him about his work. Initially you understand (entender) what he is telling you, (his name, the university where he works, etc.) but as the description of his work gets more and more technical and complicated you find yourself unable to comprehend (comprender) what the heck he's talking about, even though he's speaking to you in English, or whatever your native language is.

There's also the meaning that Acosta mentioned, that you "comprender" a person. It's like you "get" or you understand where that person is coming from. Like your best friend wants to quit his job because he's frustrated and burned out in the position. You could say that "lo comprendo", that you understand him, understand his frustration, etc
.
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Old 25th October 2010, 09:16 PM   #5
cronos
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Thanks everyone, that's really useful and makes the difference clear. I'm really enjoying learning the language and hopefully I'll be able to post more in Spanish as I make some progress!
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