I've asked some of my Chinese friends what the difference was. Most couldn't explain. Some said that you 了解 people but you 理解 things. What's the difference?

6 Answers 6


From 《商务馆学汉语近义词词典》:

同: 都有“知道”的意思。但意思和用法都有不用,一般不能互换。


  1. 用于事物,“了解”指知道得很清楚,强调知道事物的情况和过程,“了解”是一种感性的认识;“理解”强调懂得事物的意义和内容,明白为什么会是这样,是一种理性的认识,比“了解”更深入

    • 这件事我一点儿也不了解,不可能谈出什么意思。
    • 你了解这家公司的基本情况吗?
    • 亨利非常了解中国历史和文化。
    • 你这样说是什么意思,我还不能理解。
    • 这篇文章内容太深,学生们理解不了。
    • 发生这样的事真让人不可理解。
  2. 用于人,“了解”表示对此人知道得很清楚,知道此人的情况,性格,爱好,等;“理解”表示懂得此人的心,明白此人为什么要这样做,能谅解,宽容此人

    • 我好久没有跟他谈过了,我真的不了解他有什么想法。
    • 你们刚认识,应该互相了解。
    • 我和刘芳是好朋友,所以我很了解她。
    • 虽然我跟李立是好朋友,但我真的不理解他为什么要这样做。
    • 夫妻之间最重要的是互相理解。
    • 这件事我不能帮你,希望你能理解。
  3. “了解”还有“打听,调查”的意思,还可以重叠;“理解”没有这样的用法

    • 这次去中国农村,我们了解到喝多情况。
    • 火灾很严重,市长亲自到现场了解情况。
    • 他的情况我已经了解过了。
    • 你去了解了解这个人的情况。
  4. “了解”,“理解”在使用中有一些习惯搭配,不能互换

    • 了解到 - 进行了解 - 深入了解 - 向人了解 - 了解得很清楚
    • 得到理解 - 深刻理解 - 表示理解 - 理解能力 - 理解得很正确
    • 我想向老师了解一下这里的招生情况。
    • 校长深入到师生之中,了解到了事情的真实情况。
    • 通过调查,我们对事情的经过已经了解得很清楚了。
    • 我对你的这种心情表示理解。
    • 这句话的意思你理解得很正确。
  • Great book. Great explanation. Thanks! (I suppose you could add English translation, but I found the Chinese explanation sufficient.) Sep 12, 2012 at 7:00
  • In this case I'll only add the examples :-)
    – BertR
    Sep 12, 2012 at 7:19
  • I added the examples.
    – BertR
    Sep 12, 2012 at 12:59

了解: Somebody know some messages or news.

Eg. 我了解事情的内幕。

理解: Somebody learn for somethings, then understand them.

Eg. 经过学习,我理解了这个公式。


I think the two words have almost the same meanings, maybe sometimes we used them by a little different way in different context. For example, u will date with your good friends, but one of them couldn't come because he must 够 shopping with his girlfriend. In this context, u can say " 了解了解"which accompany a little ridicules. In a little bit serious occasion, u will date with your good friends, but one of them coudn't come because his parents ill, you can say "理解".

  • Welcome to the site, and thanks for your answer. I like the "够 shopping" joke, or did your keyboard accidentally switch to Chinese mode?
    – Don Kirkby
    Sep 27, 2012 at 19:49

了解 is more like "Known" 理解 is more like "Understand"

  • Please give some examples.
    – Mou某
    Jun 11, 2014 at 5:13

From my point of view

理解 includes the meaning of understanding

了解 has a process like recognizing or hearing from


Both 理解 and 了解 can be used with human objects. However, at least colloquially, 理解 often implies empathy (concerning the person's circumstances), in addition to mere understanding, whereas 了解 does not.

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