Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Apprehension and Comprehension

Apprehension vs Comprehension

Oh, the complexity of words, to encounter one and be perplexed by its meaning, to know that it means something but that it can also mean another.  English is undoubtedly one of the most interesting subjects that a person can learn to understand and comprehend.

It is very complex and to know how to use the words in order to convey what you mean, is a challenge.  There are many words in the English language that sound and actually mean the same but differ on some levels.  Take the words apprehension and comprehension for example.

They actually mean the same, to understand.  But then they differ on how a person understands something, either an idea or an object; and on the level of the person’s understanding of that certain thing or idea.  A person may apprehend an object, situation, idea, message or a subject but he may fail to actually comprehend it.


Apprehension is described as the awareness or understanding of something by the mind.  It is a mode of consciousness wherein the mind is only aware of the thing but does not affirm or deny anything about it.

It is neither true nor false, we take in something but we don’t make judgment on it.  It is a mental state wherein we are conscious about something but fail to fully grasp its meaning to be able to pass any judgment.


Comprehension also means understanding, especially in the fields of education and psychology.  It is a psychological process wherein a person is aware of an abstract or physical object like a message, a person or situation, and is able to think about it and knows how to deal with the object in any manner he perceives is right.

It is how a person conceptualizes a situation, idea, object or person.  For example, a person is able to comprehend a mathematical concept if he is able to solve problems with it.  He will comprehend a command or instruction if he knows who gave it, what is expected of him and whether the command is legitimate or not.

Comprehension requires knowledge, it is a deeper form of understanding.  It allows a person to connect bits and pieces of information in order to put it to use.  Therefore, a person who reacts appropriately to a situation or object comprehends that situation or object.


1. Apprehension is a mode of consciousness wherein one is aware of something but cannot pass any judgment on it, while comprehension is a psychological state of mind wherein a person is aware of something, is able to think about it, and knows how to deal with it.
2. Comprehension requires knowledge, while apprehension does not.
3. Comprehension is deeper than apprehension.
4. Apprehension is a state of mind wherein a person does not fully grasp the meaning of an idea or object presented to him, while comprehension is a state of mind wherein he is able to fully understand the meaning of the idea or object presented to him.

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  1. Excellent explanation! I now comprehend the disparity I apprehended between the words comprehension and apprehension.

  2. Sorry, but the letter A with an accent circonflex makes it read difficult or confusing.. I actually find it important enough to commentate about it for future readers.

  3. I’d like to add, that this explanation while wonderfully clear and helpful in my search to clarify and verify the difference between these two words, focuses on the shortcomings of apprehension in relation to comprehension, which colors the interpretation of the word as connotating a shortcoming. My impression of the word is more positive. Apprehension is an achievement in an of itself, albeit a stepping stone to the subset of things in the universe which are comprehensible as well as apprehensible. Some things can never be comprehended and it is an achievement just to apprehend them. As a simple example, certain cases of one’s love for another.

  4. An interesting distinction which raises questions on the nature of knowing. I would like to suggest that there are some things or perhaps only one that might be apprehended but not comprehended, God, His nature and His qualities, which by definition must be beyond man’s comprehension. God is ever greater than any idea that can be formed of Him. Perhaps it is this distinction between apprehension and comprehension that accounts for people’s refusal to believe. In their arrogance they will not believe what they cannot comprehend.

  5. Prehendere in latin means “to grasp” “to take”. The prefix “ad” means “to” and “com” means “with”. If you take something in your mind without further questioning it is apprehendere, apprehension. If you associate it “with” something else and make sense of it then it is comprehendere, comprehension.

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