As you will all know, the most common way to express agreement and understanding in English is by saying the sentence “I understand”, however it is very important to try to use more varied expressions so as to enrich our conversations. As learners of another language, it is important to learn several ways to express the same idea. Which brings us to the purpose of this article! We are going to have a look at some other ways to say “I understand” in English.
I get you (I got you in past simple)
This expression is very common among native English speakers and expresses that you have perfectly understood the idea that someone has explained to you. Using this in spoken English amongst friends is all very well but perhaps not as suitable in a work environment or in a formal atmosphere, such as during a job interview.
I’m so sorry I can’t make it to your birthday party tomorrow
Oh, how come? I was looking forward to seeing you
I have a presentation due the next morning and I’m really nervous about it. I need the extra time to prepare.
Ah, I get you. Good luck! Maybe we can hang out on Friday.
I see where you’re coming from
Unlike the previous example, this one expresses a more empathetic understanding. You are putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and are able to comprehend and acknowledge both the decision or opinion they are communicating and the reasons behind it.
Hi James, I need to talk about your attitude at work. You have been late most mornings and not meeting your deadlines.
I apologise for being late; I currently have some family trouble and it has been difficult concentrating at work.
I see where you’re coming from, but you must try to focus while here. If it helps, why don’t you take a day off to spend with family?
Thanks, I really appreciate it.
I hear you
Like the last example, “I hear you” can also convey the idea that you are really trying to imagine the situation or event that someone is explaining to you. Additionally, it highlights to the interlocutor that you are fully engaged in the conversation and paying attention. Often, people just want to be heard and feel that someone understands them.
I’m so upset with Lena…
She expects me to work overtime every day.
I hear you. Maybe if you have a chat with her?
I’ll try. Thanks for listening!
When someone is explaining something to you and you understand what they are saying and are in agreement with them, it is very common to say of course in order to reaffirm that agreement.
I’ve been so stressed at work lately. I really need a holiday
Of course. A holiday would be good to ease the stress
Definitely. Thanks for listening.
I know what you mean
By using this expression to show understanding, you are expressing empathy to the interlocutor by sharing that you, too, have felt this way. In other words, the situation may have happened to you in the past, hence your complete understanding.
I am so tired!
I was up all night with the baby. He’s sick with the flu.
Oh, I know what you mean. My daughter has chicken pox, I was up all night too. I am exhausted!
How should you incorporate them into your English?
As we mentioned earlier, to become a fluent English speaker it is important to use rich, varied vocabulary, and this includes expressions such as the ones you just learnt! Try to incorporate them, one at a time.
If you’d like to continue learning English: