verstaan (present verstaan, present participle verstanende, past participle verstaan)
- to understand
Verstaan originated as a compound word, similar to a host of Germanic compound words meaning "understand". There is a dichotomy in the modern and old Germanic languages between compound words derived from "fore-stand" and "under-stand". However, the dichotomy does not correspond to the separation of the branches of the accepted family tree of Germanic languages. Languages that follow the "fore-stand" paradigm include Modern Danish, Modern Dutch and Modern German. Languages that follow the "under-stand" paradigm include Modern English and Old Norse. It is likely that either the two paradigms co-existed in Proto-Germanic, or that neither existed, but "fore" and "under" were synonomous in this context. Gothic, in addition to subscribing to the "fura-stand" paradigm, had a verb 𐍆𐍂𐌰𐌸𐌾𐌰𐌽 (fraþjan) which meant understand. It is a cognate to frode meaning a man of wisdom. Since fraþjan, as a verb, did not find its way into any of the other Germanic languages, it was not likely used to mean "understand" in Proto-Germanic.
verstaan (past singular verstond, past participle verstaan)
The English verb "understand" translates either into "verstaan" or into "begrijpen", but these are not synonyms. Verstaan refers to language, begrijpen to ideas:
- Ik verstond hem niet - I did not understand what he said
- Ik begreep hem niet - I did not understand what he meant
- Genitive singular form of verstas.