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Italian Language/"comprendere" vs "capire"


Dear Lauren,

Can you please explain the difference in meaning between the verb “comprendere” (to understand) and the verb “capire” (to understand).

Thank you very much.  I really appreciate your help.

Buona giornata!



Hi Rich,

Thanks for your question.

Comprendere and capire are both synonyms of the same verb 'to understand' and as such, can generally be used interchangeably. However, I would say that 'comprendere' is definitely for more formal usages.

Also, unlike capire, comprendere can have an additional meaning of including or comprising - e.g. Il libro comprende tre parti principali (the book contains three main parts). In modern day use, it is actually used more in this sense than in the sense of 'to understand' so I would recommended sticking with 'capire' mainly when speaking with Italians.

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,

Italian Language

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Lauren O' Hagan


Although not my mother tongue, I have spoken Italian fluently for more than 12 years so I am very confident to answer any questions about the Italian language. I am also competent in Roman Dialect if there are any questions relating to this.


MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) Received the top grade in the whole of UK for GCSE Italian, receiving a letter of congratulations from the Italian Consulate Completed my two-year A Level in 1 year with a grade A country. Carried out many translation jobs for a wide range of clients and topics including self-help, literature and exam papers. For personal reference, I have also translated Federico Moccia's Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo and 2 of Francesco Totti's book.

El Pensador, University of Bristol

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