19 Differences Between Knowledge And Understanding

In the general term, the word “knowledge” is a noun that involves awareness of a particular fact or situation. In another vein, understanding consists of knowing the reason or cause of a problem or thing.

While knowledge may be fixed, understanding is easily flexible as it involves an individual’s perception of the situation or subject matter.

Let’s look at a basic human angle example when a student reads a topic, and he can begin to see why the things in the text are the way they are.

That student is starting to understand that subject matter, which adds to his knowledge.

Straightaway, you can see that there exists a difference between these two. But before we dwell on this difference, let’s consider them individually.

What is Knowledge?

Knowledge is the awareness of a particular fact or situation. It is usually a combination of what you understand and don’t understand.

This usually means that knowledge covers a bigger pool of information than understanding. Not all knowledge we possess is understood.

Knowledge is quite widespread, usually beyond the scope of understanding.

Generally, knowledge is usually indisputable facts; you cannot often say a specific knowledge is wrong. As knowledge is most times usually generally accepted.

For instance, the sun rises and sets. This is a fact that I am aware of and several other people and I can say it without any prejudice.

This fact can be said to be the knowledge I possess. It doesn’t matter if I understand this concept or not.

These facts you know and can barely be argued about usually form an individual’s knowledge base.

How old you are, your shoe size, the time for school resumption, and many other predictable things usually start an individual knowledge base.

Usually, people are revered for how much knowledge they possess, but should that be the case? Inevitably, a personal knowledge base is a bigger pool than his understanding.

The closer the two grounds mentioned above become, the more equipped you are as an individual.

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What is Understanding?

Understanding, however, is a different ball game; we defined understanding earlier as knowing the reason or cause of a situation or thing.

This shows us immediately the restriction in understanding. It is limited only to the knowledge we can process and grasp. We often are aware of many things (inside).

However, most of the things we are aware of will be perceived by us in various ways because we all have different thought processes.

For example, Mr. A may have a different perception of the kinetic theory of matter, while Mr. B may have a different perception.

This variation in perception is simply the general concept of understanding.

Looking at the above illustration, understanding would require work as people have different perceptions.

You, therefore, often have to give reasons for your position on the subject matter; you have to make people understand why you think a certain way, and this perception can be reviewed.

While knowledge is usually mere facts, understanding is individual-based and varies tremendously.

Usually, in many educational settings, many educationists mistake testing students’ knowledge, but ideally, students should be tested based on what they understand.

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Differences Between Knowledge and Understanding

DefinitionThe accumulation of facts, data, or information.A deeper comprehension of ‘why’ and ‘how’.
DepthOften surface-level; can be obtained through memorization.Goes beyond just facts, delving into the reasoning behind them.
ApplicationCan be recited or listed.Allows for application in various scenarios and contexts.
AcquisitionGained through reading, observing, or being told.Achieved through reflection, analysis, and experience.
DurationCan be forgotten if not used or reinforced.More enduring as it’s based on grasped concepts.

Differences Between Knowledge and Understanding

NatureStatic: Facts and figures that remain constant.Dynamic: Evolves with experience and deeper reflection.
AssessmentOften gauged through direct questions or quizzes.Evaluated through discussions, essays, or application-based tasks.
DependencyIndependent: Can exist without understanding.Dependent: Relies on some level of knowledge.
ExamplesKnowing the capital of a country.Understanding why that city became the capital.
LimitationsLimited to what is known; does not promote critical thinking.Encourages exploration beyond the known facts.
Growth AspectAccumulative: You add more facts to your knowledge base.Exponential: As you understand more, you can connect diverse concepts.

Differences Between Knowledge and Understanding

OriginsOften originates from external sources: books, lectures, or media.Springs from internal processing and synthesis of knowledge.
Cognitive ProcessRecall: Activates memory-based retrieval of facts.Comprehension: Engages deeper cognitive faculties.
FlexibilityRigid: Facts remain consistent regardless of perspective.Adaptive: Can shift based on new experiences or insights.
Value in DebateProvides evidence and data points.Offers insights, interpretations, and implications.
Learning MethodPassive: Can be absorbed through listening or reading.Active: Requires engagement, reflection, and analysis.
InteractivityOne-dimensional: Facts are often standalone.Multi-dimensional: Connects various pieces of knowledge.
ApplicationFunctional: Useful in procedural tasks.Conceptual: Essential for strategy and holistic tasks.

Embarking on a quest for knowledge is the first step, but transitioning to understanding ensures a comprehensive grasp of subjects.

It is akin to the difference between seeing the individual threads and perceiving the entire tapestry.

To be truly educated, and not just informed, one must strive to achieve a balance between the accumulation of facts and the deep comprehension of their significance.

Knowledge vs. Understanding (Deeper Explanation)

1. How we see the two ideas:

Knowledge is just knowing something, while understanding is knowing why or how it is that way. So, knowledge is like knowing a fact, and understanding is knowing the reason behind that fact.

2. Scope of their definition

Knowledge covers a lot more than understanding does. So, knowledge is broader than understanding.

Think of it like a library.

“Knowledge” is like all the books in the library – there’s a ton of them, covering countless topics. It’s the collection of all the facts, details, and data you’ve gathered from various sources over time.

On the other hand, “Understanding” is like reading and truly grasping the content of a specific book from that library.

It’s not just about having the book (or the fact); it’s about truly comprehending what’s inside it, seeing the deeper meaning, and knowing why things are the way they are.

So, while knowledge is just having a bunch of information or facts, understanding dives deeper. It’s about making sense of those facts and seeing the bigger picture.

That’s why we say knowledge has a broader scope; it’s all the books. But understanding is more focused; it’s about truly getting what’s inside those books.

3. Application:

Knowledge is not the valuable ability to check for in a student; understanding is the ability every student should possess if you intend to do anything with your knowledge.

It’s not just about knowing facts for students; it’s more important to understand them. If you really want to use what you know, you need to understand it.

4. Details:

Knowledge is usually known facts and is typically indisputable. At the same time, understanding is generally based on a person’s perception and is subject to scrutiny and even correction if any default is found.

FAQs on the Differences Between Knowledge And Understanding

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is having information or facts about something based on experience, education, or observation.

What is understanding?

Understanding is grasping the meaning or significance of information, seeing how it relates or connects, and being able to apply or explain it.

Can you know without understanding?

You can know facts or information without understanding their deeper meaning or how to use them effectively.

Which is more valuable: knowledge or understanding?

Both are important. Knowledge gives you the basics, while understanding lets you apply and build on that knowledge in different situations.


It has been established that both knowledge and understanding mean different things. It has also been seen that knowledge is broader than understanding and that understanding is a test for a student.

However, it would be wrong to fail to realize that to succeed, you need both knowledge and understanding.

The two are closely interrelated; with neither of them being complete without the other, you cannot understand what you don’t know.

Also, any knowledge that is not understood is just a memory you can’t use for anything.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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Franklin Izuekwe
Franklin Izuekwe

Hello, I am Franklin! For two years, I began actively assisting students in Europe, the United States, Asia and Canada in their pursuit of college advice and scholarship prospects. I am a content writer at www.schoolandtravel.com.

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