What is different between 分かります and 分かりました。

  • Do you know how to express present and past tense in Japanese?
    – Earthliŋ
    Jan 13 '15 at 0:49
  • 1
    @Earthling But this is not a tense question. Jan 13 '15 at 1:02
  • 1
    I think that tense is relevant, but it interacts with aspect in a way that may be non-obvious.
    – user1478
    Jan 13 '15 at 1:08
  • I think also that it is tense-relevant : think that わかります is along the lines of "I am understanding/I know" meaning a continuous action, whereas 分かりました is along "I understood", meaning something that has been learned (and is done). But well, the answer's good.
    – Urukann
    Jan 13 '15 at 1:57

A very good question.

Despite how it might look on the surface, this is definitely not a question about tense.

We use the two phrases differently depending on the situations -- more specifically, on the content of the discourse. In other words, it depends on what the other person has just said to you.

You use 「わかりました」 when you understand the explanation or instruction that the other person has just given to you. It is an expression of comprehension of and obedience to what has been explained to you. You just learned something now.

Guy: "To get to the XXX Park, you go ~~~~~."

You: 「わかりました。ありがとうございます。」 You will never say 「わかります」 here.

「わかります」 is quite different in that it is used to say "Yes, I know." or "I know what you mean." It is an expression of knowledge and sometimes, sympathy.

Guy: 「『懐疑的』の意味はわかりますか。」"Do you know what 懐疑的 means?"

You: 「はい、わかります。」

or --

Woman: "My husband just sits in the couch and watches TV ~~~~~. He never helps me with ~~~~."

You:「わかります。My husband is the same way.」

  • Excellent ! I would simply add that in english terms, usage of 分かりました is similar to that of "understood" maybe more casual whereas 分かります can be used as "I understand/I feel you" but I know it's not always a good idea to provide translations...
    – Urukann
    Jan 13 '15 at 1:50

分かりました = i understood 分かります = i understand

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