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Knowledge vs. Understanding: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 7, 2023
Knowledge refers to the accumulation of facts and information. Understanding pertains to comprehending and making sense of information.

Key Differences

Knowledge accumulates from learning facts, data, or skills through experience or education. Understanding implies not only having knowledge but also comprehending the interconnectedness and implications of the information known.
While knowledge can exist purely as memorized information, understanding extends to interpreting and relating to said information. Understanding connects to the ability to use knowledge adaptively or innovatively in various contexts.
Knowledge can be transferred through communication or study, whereas understanding is often derived internally, from deep thinking and reflection. Understanding propels knowledge into meaningful insights or applications in diverse scenarios.
Knowledge can be seen as a prerequisite for understanding. Understanding involves a conceptual grasp wherein knowledge finds relevance, applied efficiently in problem-solving or creating new knowledge and understanding alike.
Knowledge may be easily tested through quizzes and exams, reflecting recall and recognition. Understanding, however, is often assessed through application, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge, revealing a deeper connection with the information.

Comparison Chart


The accumulation of facts and information.
Comprehending and making sense of information.


Can be surface-level and factual.
Requires depth and connection with the information.


Might not require application.
Implies application and correlation of information.


Developed through reading, observing, and learning.
Developed through reflection and practical application.


Can be easily shared and communicated.
Not easily transferable, often personal.

Knowledge and Understanding Definitions


Information, facts, or skills acquired through experience or education.
His knowledge of history is commendable.


The ability to comprehend the meaning or significance.
His understanding of the text is profound.


Awareness or familiarity gained by an experience of a fact or situation.
He came to the knowledge of the hidden treasure.


A mental grasp; the power of comprehending.
Her understanding of complex problems is impressive.


The sum of what is known.
The library is a vast sea of knowledge.


An interpretation or view.
Her understanding of the event was different from ours.


The theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
Her knowledge in physics is unparalleled.


Sympathetic awareness or tolerance.
He showed great understanding toward his struggling friend.


The state of being aware of information.
The doctor’s knowledge saved the patient.


A mutual agreement or compact.
They came to an understanding about their differences.


The state or fact of knowing
Humans naturally aspire to knowledge.


The ability by which one understands; intelligence
Concepts that are beyond the understanding of a child.


Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study
Has great knowledge of these parts.
Has only limited knowledge of chemistry.


The quality or condition of one who understands; comprehension
Do you have much understanding of calculus?.


Individual or specified judgment or outlook; opinion
In my understanding, this is a good plan.


What is knowledge?

Knowledge is the acquisition of facts, information, or skills through experience or education.

What does understanding mean?

Understanding refers to the ability to comprehend, grasp, or make sense of information or situations.

Is understanding possible without knowledge?

Typically, no, as understanding generally requires some level of knowledge to form insights or interpretations.

How is understanding developed?

Understanding is developed through reflection, application, and making connections between pieces of knowledge.

What is the primary difference between knowledge and understanding?

Knowledge pertains to the acquisition of facts while understanding involves deeper comprehension and the ability to make connections with known facts.

Can understanding alter knowledge?

Yes, a deeper understanding can alter or refine knowledge by providing new insights or correcting misperceptions.

Is understanding finite?

No, understanding can continuously evolve and deepen as one engages with new information and experiences.

Can understanding be taught?

While knowledge can be shared, understanding is often developed through reflection and personal internalization of knowledge.

How is knowledge tested?

Knowledge is often tested through exams or quizzes that assess recall and recognition of information.

Is knowledge always factual?

Knowledge is generally based on facts or information, but it can include skills learned through practice.

Is understanding subjective?

Yes, understanding can be subjective as it often involves personal insight and interpretation of information.

How is knowledge developed?

Knowledge is developed through learning processes like reading, observing, studying, and practicing.

Is all knowledge useful?

While knowledge is valuable, its utility may depend on context, needs, and application.

Can knowledge exist without understanding?

Yes, knowledge can exist without understanding as one can know facts without comprehending their broader meanings or applications.

How can understanding be assessed?

Understanding is usually assessed through application-based tasks that require interpretation, correlation, and utilization of knowledge.

Can knowledge be taught?

Yes, knowledge can be taught and transferred through teaching, reading, or sharing information.

Does knowledge change?

Yes, knowledge can change or evolve with the discovery of new information or insights.

Can knowledge be unlearned?

Yes, knowledge can be forgotten or intentionally unlearned, particularly if new information contradicts it.

Can understanding be misleading?

Yes, understanding can sometimes be misleading if based on incomplete or incorrect knowledge.

Is understanding a skill?

Understanding can be considered a cognitive skill, involving processing and making sense of information.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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