Let’s study Hanja! ~이해가 가다~

This is something that I was curious about during my Korean language studies. *Please be aware that I am not the language expert here, and I’m just sharing how I try to learn the language.



This is a noun: 이해 (N: 理解, understand)

이해 is usually used in the verb form like this:

이해하다 (V: 理解する, to understand)

but there is also a phrase like this:

이해가 가다

이해가 안 간다

My first impression of this as a foreigner was: “Where does the understanding go??” Because the most simple meaning of 가다  is “to go.” When I checked the Daum online dictionary, there were 20 different meanings for the word “가다,” so if I expand on the topic, this blog post could get very long.  I should study more of the “가다” section later!

But then I realized that 가다 is used similarly in Japanese. For example, 納得がいく(납득이 가다, to be convinced) . I see some 理解がいく・ゆく(이해가 가다) on the internet, but I’m not confident enough to say that it is grammatically correct in Japanese. Korean is not the same as the Japanese, so I can’t always rely on it, but it’s helpful to get an idea.

So what do you think 이해가 가다 means?

example 1
After my co-teacher explained the rules to a classroom activity, she asked the students to make sure: “이해가 갑니까?”

example 2
When you don’t understand why your friend has a crush on that horrible guy:

왜 그 남자가 좋아하는지 나는 이해가 안 간다…

이해가 갑니까? (Were you able to understand?)

이해가 가다 means “make sense,” “quite understandable,” or “can understand.”

But what is the difference between 이해하다 and 이해가 가다?

They are basically the same meaning, “to understand,” but the difference is in nuance.

As far as I know, 이해하다 can sound like there is a stronger emotion attached to it, and 이해가 가다 sounds like a more calm observation.


So for example, if we say “I don’t understand,”

이해 할 수 없다 would have more emotion like this:

“I can’t understand you!” “I don’t want to understand you!!” (理解できない、なげやり、もう知らん! more negative )




이해가 안 간다 would be more like:

“I cannot understand your situation,” in a more serious tone. Almost like a polite robot? (理解がいかない)



If you are a Korean expert or a fellow Korean learner, please let me know if you find any mistakes or have more input! Thanks.


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