I didn’t understand a word

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cfu507

Senior Member
Hebrew
If you told me something and I said back: "I didn’t understand a word", would you think/understand that I didn't understand only one word or the whole sentence?

Thanks
 
  • mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    And it doesn't help to say "one word" either ... both ways would imply "a single word you said."

    To call attention to a specific word you'd have to say something like "There was something you said I didn't understand."
     

    Blues Piano Man

    Senior Member
    USA English
    If you told me something and I said back: "I didn’t understand a word", would you think/understand that I didn't understand only one word or the whole sentence?

    Thanks
    The literal meaning is that you understood none of the words. The real meaning is probably that you didn't understand enough words to get the meaning of whatever was said.

    Depending on context, it might also be a comment on the content of what you said: I understand the individual words, but I don't understand the meaning.

    This response can also be intended as a negative comment on what someone said.

    So much here depends on context and on inflection.

    Hope that helps,
    Blues :)
     

    Blues Piano Man

    Senior Member
    USA English
    If you told me something and I said back: "I didn’t understand a word", would you think/understand that I didn't understand only one word or the whole sentence?

    Thanks
    The literal meaning is that you understood* none of the words.

    The real meaning might be that you didn't understand enough words to get the meaning of whatever was said.

    * Keep in mind that "didn't understand" itself could mean either 1) you heard the word(s) but don't know their definition, or 2) you didn't hear the word(s) well enough to identify the word (example: "Bahamas" sounded like "pajamas").

    It might refer to the difficulty of understanding the statement(s) as a whole: "I understand the individual words, but I don't understand the idea of what you were trying to communicate."

    This response can also be intended as a negative comment on what someone said.

    So much here depends on context and on inflection. It's impossible to determine exact meaning without them.

    Hope that helps,
    Blues :)
     
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