Home » humour » Do You Understand? Comprends-tu?

Do You Understand? Comprends-tu?

It’s not usually my style to rant about things, but.

This. Bugs. Me.

I know it’s not new and it is a phrase used in earnest at times. When teaching children whatever we teach them, we want to make sure they understand.


Now? It is used like a period. Or an “eh” (OK, I’ll allow that is more of a Canadian thing). Or a thoughtless way to end a phrase. It drives me nuts and they do it in English and in French. Actually, there are two in English.

Do you understand?

Do you know what I mean?


Jee-zus. It is patronizing, insulting and annoying. And the worst part? Those who use it don’t even realise they are using it. All. The. Time.Β  It has become a habit, an addendum, if you will.

Where once you had the Valley-girl talk, where ‘like’ and ‘totally’ are inserted willy-nilly, words are drawn out and phrases are singsongy with upswings inserted here and there so the speaker sounds like they are questioning themselves in insecurity. (Okay, there is STILL a lot of “liking” going on…)

Then there is the vocal fry. Oh. Em. Gee… I’ve only ever heard women do this. It’s when the voice goes all the way down and becomes gravelly and sounds like they are running out of air. It is the worst. And not only does it sound particularly annoying, it is apparently rough on the vocal chords.

Which brings me back to my main pet peeve. You understand?

I was listening to “Q the Music” with Tom Power a while ago and I cannot even remember the name of the musician he was interviewing but every friggen sentence ended with a “D’you know what I mean?” Had I been Tom, I would have said: “YES! I, too, am a musician, and understand what you are talking about!” However, he remained polite throughout. Good on you, Tom. I had to turn off the interview after five minutes.

I was having a simple conversation with a young, twenty-something co-worker who was probably bitching about work and saying stuff like “I’m so tired of doing double shifts, do you understand?” Or, “She is so bossy, telling me what to do instead of doing it herself, d’you understand?” Yeah, Bud, I know. I work here, too.

Sample conversation:

Him: So, we gotta take this piece off, first, you understand?

Me:Β  Yes, gotcha.”

Him: Coz if this piece stays on, it’ll block the doohickey, understand?

Me:Β  Right

Him: So after this piece comes off, then we twist this, understand?

Me: Uh huh.

By now, I’m ready to understand him against the wall.

125 thoughts on “Do You Understand? Comprends-tu?

  1. I work in an office that is headed by an elected official. That official changed at the beginning of this year, but the previous elected official frequently ended his statements with “right?” I think it’s comparable to “do you understand/” It absolutely drove me crazy listening to him say that so frequently at the end of his declarative statements. It showed such an alarming weakness and insecurity. And it’s the same thing with the examples you provide. They can be insulting, but also demonstrate the inner insecurity of the speaker.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It can indeed drive one up a wall (or drive one to drive someone else up the wall …) πŸ˜‰
    And … yes, vocal fry (and back resonance) are not good for them vocal cords, and .. .you only get two. For life. Not good thing to wear them out, it ain’t.
    So … yeah, I understand … πŸ˜‰
    And, I’m glad you brought this up, because I tell parents to not do this … a. because it is annoying b. because it is not helpful (the kids, like most of us, will not remember a whole string of thing. If you bookend what you WANTED them to do/hear/know/understand with empty words that crowed the words you wanted them to do/hear/know/understand out … don’t be surprised that you’d set them up to NOT follow the things you wanted them to do/hear/know/understand …”
    Yep. Me with ya.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so glad I don’t watch TV, and while I do watch videos on YouTube, I tend not to watch those that feature this kind of stuff. Apparently. Cos I was totally not knowing about it if you know what I mean. (That little sentence I caught off my oldest daughter, who probably caught it off her neighbour.) But the *do you understand?* Nah, it hasn’t reached my ears, not even when I have to squeeze in amongst the schoolgirls on the way to school, and me off for a walk. But I do imagine that voal creak to be incredibly annoying

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t noticed the “do you understand,” but I do hear “right?” discussed above. Any word repeated over and over is annoying. I think I’ve gotten used to the upswing–I don’t mind it when it’s actually used to question something, but it is annoying when it’s just done randomly and constantly. I have heard men do the questioning upswing, too–the host of the NPR show 1A does it, but it’s meant to show that he is confused by something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. The “right?” can be exchanged with the “do you know what I mean” or “do you understand”. Ugh. The vocal fry is the worst, I think – the “Kardashian speak”, if you were. It is rare to have men do the upswing and yes, it does feel like they have no idea what they are talking about!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A ha ha ha…. I suppose there’s a “You understand” in every country! πŸ˜‰ I can tell you though that my hubby does a brilliant impersonation of the vocal fry πŸ˜‰ [yes, he hates it so much that when he wants to make a joke of someone, he uses it! πŸ˜‰ ] You reminded me of Zappa’s ‘Valley Girl”. On another note, I’ve caught myself sometimes while listening to kids speaking, wonder what language they’re speaking in [they sound like vowels clumsily put together]. Makes me feel so old for a few seconds but I quickly go back to feeling fortunate that I can speak all consonants and vowels clearly!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Dale,

    Oh yeah, like I totally get your irritation. As a matter of fact we have a niece who does that vocal fry thing so low I can hardly understand her half the time. Like totally annoying, but I didn’t realize it was a thing. Thank you for shedding light on that.
    My grandfather used to say “You understand?” a lot but it came out “You undershtand” with his thick accent. Thanks for sounding off.

    Shalom and like totally lotsa hugs, πŸ˜‰


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle,

      Like totally, you know what I mean? I just like totally don’t get the need to speak so looooowww (insert vocal fry here). Ugh.
      As to the grandad, he probably wanted to make sure you really did understand his thick accent πŸ˜‰

      Shalom and like lotsa love, totally,


      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can dig what you saying. Know what I mean? On, and on, and on. Know what I’m saying? All these drive me up a wall. While I’ll nod and listen politely, I want to duct tape their mouths shut. Is that legal? Didn’t think so. Your little rant here is a big rant for me, and many others as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m afraid I fall into the category of “Do you know what I mean?” but it’s never used in a patronizing way. I truly want to know if you know what I mean because the word stew that falls out of my mouth sometimes confuses me too and I’ve lost my way to the end of the sentence.

    The Viking says “Just think about it!” As in “You can’t use an egg whisk to make gravy! Just think about it!” or “You can’t add wine to pancakes! Just think about it!” Of course, it’s a Danish thing, but it’s still really, really annoying. Now I just answer with “I’M MENTALLY PUNCHING YOU IN THE THROAT!!” It’s the same answer to “Just listen to me!” The first time I said this, he was very quiet for about 15 seconds and then started laughing so hard there were tears. Sometimes he’ll catch himself and threaten to punch Himself in the throat to save me all the effort. And that’s fucking Lovable. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    • Buahahaha!!! My sister always finishes with ‘tu comprends” (You understsnd). I mailed her on it and she says you don’t understand, I am surrounded by people who DON’T understand! Yeah, OK.
      Just think about it, you understand?

      Liked by 1 person

        • Lawzy…
          You wanna drive me off the deep end, eh?
          By the way, just so you know, I left a fabulous comment on your post. Which your post decided was NOT so fabulous…

          Liked by 1 person

          • πŸ˜₯ My blog has a bad attitude sometimes. I just don’t understand it. I’ve approved you over and over again. It’s like the blog fairies think you’re spam or something and I can’t get them to change their mind. They must be Viking Blog Fairies because their stubbornness is off the charts. πŸ˜•

            Liked by 1 person

          • So. I just went to your post and was pleasantly surprised to find my comments fished out of the trash. I do thank you. I am officially unsubscribing and then re-subscribing. Fingers crossed.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Q,


    See, this is why I use the language of James Brown, whose hardest working man in show business rules were really quite simple. Instead of hitting ya with all that convoluted megalomaniacal gumbo, just say “You dig?”. That’s ballgame, delivered up without the pretense.

    The old Cubans in my family all used this annoying tag . . do you understand? Or some equally irritating variation of it. And the problem I always encountered when I would return serve with some wiseass comment or other, was that they expected basically every word that came out of my mouth to be a wiseass comment. Hence . . I was muted.

    Do you understand?


    Liked by 1 person

    • B,


      “You dig” technically falls in the same category but is way cooler.

      I cannot imagine you of all people would come up with a wiseass comment. Dude! Not you?

      You know what I mean?


      Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you. I get it. Yep . . we’re on the same sheet of music alright.

        You dig is the same thing, but said in such a way as to throw the recipient off long enough that you can make your escape before they catch on to what you done did.

        No, I was just kidding. I was a choir boy. I didn’t start cracking wise until I was old enough to buy life insurance. I felt like it took the edge off.

        I see where you’re coming from.


        Liked by 1 person

        • That we are. Singing the same tune – in harmony!

          Ya baby… and if you do it with the proper screech and spin, you can actually mosey as you make your escape.

          Oh hell naw. Don’t even try that one.

          So glad you do, yanno?


          Liked by 1 person

          • Coo.

            It’s all about the delivery. I can say all manner of unfortunate stuff in such a way that the peeps I’m talking to eat it like honeyed up toast with buttah.

            And I have been told I have a swagger when I walk, which I wasn’t aware of. But I guess there is a mosey in my repertoire in that case.




          • Very.

            Absolutely. And you are a honeyed-tongue devil, I’ve no doubt.

            Swagger is to give the additional dimension to the above-mentioned delivery.

            Uh huh! Don’t even try to fool me with that nonsense.


            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s all right there, honey and butter. Peeps just need to know how to use ’em.

            Right, that must be it.

            I just did try to fool you with that nonsense. I guess I need to grocery shop for more honey and butter.


          • And you are an expert πŸ˜‰

            I’m rather sure of it.

            Of course, you understand, that some of us have a tad more experience and can sniff out this stuff…. πŸ˜‰

            Liked by 1 person

          • Practicing since the age of knee high to a grasshopper allows for some manner of expertise in the given subject. As Boyd Crowder might’ve said. πŸ˜‰

            I do indeed. Therein lies the sport to which I love digging my dogs into. πŸ˜‰

            Liked by 1 person

          • Don’t I know it. I could never even attempt to string words together as the two of you do. We won’t even discuss what that dude is attempting to do now.

            Take advantage of it.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Everyone has something given. It’s always something, never nothing. As I have never ever been able to flip a capture, so I stopped trying.

            No, that conversation will not happen. I do not do sitcoms. Any longer.

            For the shizz.

            Liked by 1 person

          • You are right. Everyone has something.

            I used to watch them. I just can’t anymore. Except Will and Grace… once in a while.

            Smart man.


  10. didn’t know about the fry, but get slightly peed off by the ‘like’, like, like….. Anyway, have you recovered of your ‘do you get it?’ rant?


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