Learn and understand are words that are similar to each other concerning their meaning. Looking them up in a dictionary, we might realize that in some cases even one word is used to describe the meaning of the other. However, examining these words thoroughly, we can state that there are also some differences in their meaning.
The definition of ÃÂlearnÃÂ in the dictionary is the following: ÃÂto get knowledge or skill in a new subject or activity; to make yourself remember a piece of writing by reading or repeating it many times; to start to understand that you must change the way you behave; to be told facts or information that you did not know.ÃÂ The word ÃÂunderstandÃÂ is defined: ÃÂto know the meaning of something that someone says; to know why or how something happens or works; to know how someone feels or why they behave in a particular way.ÃÂ
These definitions show that the two words are close to each other in meaning but to find differences, we should see some examples.
When someone is born, he/she immediately starts an everlasting ÃÂlearningÃÂ. He/she has to ÃÂlearnÃÂ to walk, to speak, to eat and so on. After one has ÃÂlearntÃÂ the basics, ÃÂlearningÃÂ does not stop since everyone is obliged to attend a school. Kids must ÃÂlearnÃÂ to read, to count and about a lot of things. However, it is not guaranteed that we also ÃÂunderstandÃÂ what we have ÃÂlearntÃÂ.
According to a survey, many of the kids suffer from difficulties in reading comprehension, which means that even though they ÃÂlearntÃÂ to read, they are not able to ÃÂunderstandÃÂ what they have read about. Another good example is when it comes to ÃÂlearningÃÂ Mathematics. There are two groups of people: those who can ÃÂunderstandÃÂ it and those who cannot. One who is good at Mathematics can easily ÃÂunderstandÃÂ problems related to it even without ÃÂlearningÃÂ it a lot, whereas members of the other group may study day and night and it is still not for sure that they will be able to solve a similar problem when they encounter one.
Both words also have meanings that are not so close to each other. ÃÂLearnÃÂ can also refer to something that you have been told about recently, for instance, you might say, ÃÂI only learnt about the accident later.ÃÂ When you say, ÃÂI do not understand JamesÃÂ you do not think of James as something to comprehend, in this case ÃÂunderstandÃÂ expresses that you just do not know why he behaves the way he does. It can easily be realized that the two words are not similar in meaning in this case.
These examples help to see a few differences between the words learn and understand. In general, you ÃÂlearnÃÂ so as to ÃÂunderstandÃÂ something but when you ÃÂunderstandÃÂ something, it is not certain that you have had to ÃÂlearnÃÂ to ÃÂunderstandÃÂ it. This clearly shows that even though the two words are synonyms, there are distinctions between them as well.
Works CitedElizabeth Walter. Cambridge LearnerÃÂs Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.