Difference between Knowing and Understanding

Difference between Knowing and Understanding

English is the one language that is widely spoken all over the world. Some of the English words available are always perceived wrongly. Acquiring knowledge is a process that will not end at any time. It is an ongoing process. It is not a process where you learn facts only. You need to process this fact and realize what knowledge it is you have gained in the end.

Acquiring knowledge is not a time-bound process. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we get to learn and understand things around us that include incidents, experiments, and academic knowledge. What we gain improves us morally, intellectually, and psychologically.

Knowing Vs. Understanding

The main difference between these two terms is that knowing means being aware of a fact or incident while acquiring a new skill. Understanding on the other hand means processing and perceiving the already gained information.

Comparison between Knowing and Understanding

  • Knowing means acquiring a skill or expertise. It could also mean being aware of an incident or a fact. Understanding on the other hand means perceiving these particular incidents and facts.
  • Knowing takes a lesser time to process while understanding takes a longer time.
  • Knowing is more superficial while understanding requires a lot of processing time and at a deeper level.
  • You do not need to use the brain to absorb information or incidents in the knowing process. Understanding on the other hand will require a lot of brain usage to perceive information.

What is Knowing?

You can use the term knowing both as an adjective and as a noun. The term means to be aware of information, an incident, or fact. If it is a deed, it needs to be in full consciousness. When used as a noun, it means to be aware or informed. The term can also be used as a verb.

Knowing can also be defined as the act of acquiring a skill or expertise which can be used at a later time. Examples of such skills include knowing how to light a bulb, building a bed, and so on. What makes this act superficial is not knowing the reason behind this expertise. It is also superficial because the person does not necessarily use their brain activity to process and perceive this information.

Some articles explain four levels through which knowledge is acquired. Knowledge itself is considered part of a very long process. The long process makes knowledge a crucial process and one should never stop the process of acquiring knowledge.

The first process of knowing according to Benjamin Bloom, a researcher and Professor is ‘Knowledge’. This is the art of recalling data or information and other material. The second part is ‘comprehension’. This means grasping and understanding the information that has been collected.

What is Understanding?

Once you have known a fact or an incident, the next step is to understand it. It is normally a psychological process. In this concept, you will need to use your brain activity to process the idea or incident. When compared to now, this process is longer and deeper. Teachers and learners alike need to have a good level of understanding. A good understanding will help with a good implementation of practical examples in the future.

Professor and Researcher Benjamin Bloom who was in the field of taxonomy explained different levels of understanding. The first part is ‘knowledge’, which means recalling the data or information and other learned material while the second part, is comprehension, which means explaining and grasping the information, and concept that has been collected.

The third part is ‘application’ which means to use the information collected in a new and unknown situation. The fourth concept according to Benjamin is ‘Analysis’. This involves breaking the idea apart so that there is a distinction between fact and interference.

The fifth concept is ‘synthesis’ which is stitching together ideas that are cohesive and can later be implemented in real-life situations.

The comprehension level, therefore, becomes or better explains what understanding is. It means to read, understand and process the information in forms like descriptions, reports, tables, diagrams, directions, and so on.

Understanding is more psychological when compared to knowing. It is a lengthier process as it involves taking time and effort to understand a matter and not just getting to know it.

Difference between Knowing and Understanding

  • Knowing involves just being aware of an incident or information. For instance, knowing about the stock market and more news about it. Understanding is normally the next step after knowing. It involves processing the information in a way that it can be implemented in the future into an unknown situation.
  • Knowing is a superficial process that barely involves perceiving the acquired knowledge. Understanding on the other hand is deep and is a process that needs an active perceiving of the acquired knowledge. There is a lot of brain use in understanding than there is in knowing.
  • More time is needed to understand information. Little time is needed to know information.
  • Understanding is a lengthy process with different concepts contained therein while knowing is part of the process of understanding.
  • Understanding a fact can change your life. Knowing or getting information will not necessarily have an impact.


In conclusion, the true difference between the terms knowing and understanding is about the psychological and intellectual bit. Understanding is a rather long process. It involves at least five concepts to where you can finally use the understood concept and implement it in a new or unknown situation.

Knowing on the other hand is a short process with at least two concepts, the understanding being one of them. We can conclude that both these processes are intertwined in a way. While understanding a concept can change your life or impact it in a big way, knowing or getting some information will not necessarily change your life.

The above-noted differences are best able to explain where you are intellectual. You can tell whether you just know a concept or bits of information or there is a need to understand the information in-depth for later use.