As the title denotes, I have lots of vaguenesses in making it clear between 分かっています and 知っています - Is their meaning all "I know"?

Hence, I can't stop thinking about these two:

  • 中国語を知っていますか?
  • 中国語が分かっていますか?

Do they have the same meaning? Can we use them interchangeably?


2 Answers 2


Yes, off course, I know it. It's the language spoken in Chaina.
•中国語が分かっていますか? (中国語が分かりますか?)
No, I don't understand it. I can't read and hear it. (I can't read, hear, speak and write it.)


Yes, off course, I know him. He is the president of US. (I know him through TV news everyday.)
No, I don't understand him. He is very hard to understand for everybody in the world.


知っています literally means you KNOW ABOUT sth 分かっています literally means you UNDERSTAND sth

  • I think that is oversimplifying it. Associating two English translations to two Japanese words that are interchangeable in many contexts may actually not be very helpful.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:01
  • I feel like this is the most direct way to help OP to understand the difference between those two. I understand that those two words are interchangeable under many situation. However, this is the fundamental difference. I don't care that much about downvotes but this answer does not deserve one.
    – Davvvvad
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:16
  • Sorry, I only left a comment and didn't downvote you. I don't think it's a bad approach to an answer, but it would probably be a better answer if you expanded on this analogy (for example, give sentences where these two have the desired connotations and also give examples where this analogy breaks down).
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:40
  • @BeyondRiver - Re: the posters specific question about 中国語, do your definitions fit the meanings of his sentences? I feel it does, but I'm not certain it is absolute. To make life difficult, 「分かっている 和かっている 判っている 解っている」can all use the pronunciation 「わかっている」 , yet they clearly can have different nuances: understand, know about, judge, solve. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 22:08
  • ^ 「和かっている」って・・・?
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 1:56

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