Mastering the Verb Comprendre: A Guide to Understanding Its Usage in French


In the realm of French verbs, “comprendre” holds a special place as a key verb indicating understanding. Similar to “to understand” in English, “comprendre” is an essential verb to include in your French vocabulary. In this blog post, we will delve into the various ways to use “comprendre” and provide examples to help you grasp its usage.

  1. Basic meaning of “comprendre”:

At its core, “comprendre” means “to understand.” This verb represents the ability to grasp, comprehend, or perceive something mentally. Let’s explore how “comprendre” can be used in different contexts.

  1. Direct object:

“Comprendre” is a transitive verb, which means it requires a direct object to complete its meaning. For instance:

  • Je comprends le français. (I understand French.)
  • Est-ce que tu comprends cette leçon ? (Do you understand this lesson?)
  • Il comprend les consignes. (He understands the instructions.)

Note that the direct object can be a noun, a pronoun, or even a clause.

  1. Prepositions with “comprendre”:

When using “comprendre,” certain prepositions can be used to express different nuances of understanding. Here are a few examples:

  • Comprendre quelque chose à (to understand something about): Je ne comprends rien à l’économie. (I don’t understand anything about economics.)
  • Comprendre quelqu’un (to understand someone): Je comprends tes sentiments. (I understand your feelings.)
  • Comprendre dans (to understand in a certain sense): Je comprends cela dans un sens différent. (I understand that in a different sense.)
  1. Infinitive construction:

“Comprendre” can also be used in an infinitive construction to express understanding how to do something, or understanding why something should be done:

  • Je comprends comment utiliser cet appareil. (I understand how to use this device.)
  • Il comprend pourquoi il doit travailler dur. (He understands why he has to work hard.)
  1. Negation with “ne…pas comprendre”:

To express the negative form of understanding, you can use “ne…pas comprendre”:

  • Je ne comprends pas ce que tu dis. (I don’t understand what you’re saying.)
  • Mon ami ne comprend pas le concept de l’humour. (My friend doesn’t understand the concept of humor.)


Understanding the usage of the verb “comprendre” is crucial when learning French. By using it correctly in various contexts, you can effectively express your comprehension and understanding of different subjects or ideas. Keep practicing and incorporating “comprendre” into your conversations to become more fluent in French!

Remember, language acquisition is a journey, and mastering “comprendre” is a major step towards becoming a confident French speaker. Bonne chance (good luck) on your language-learning endeavors!