Do you understand?
I don’t understand.
I understand.

These are all important phrases to know in Italian, and not only for talking with that gorgeous Italian you met at the bar. You’ll also need to know Do you understand? I understand and I don’t understand just to get by in Italian daily life!

Stay tuned below to learn different ways to say do you understand? like hai capito? and capisci?, what to use in formal and informal situations, and which to use with a group. I’ll explain how to say I understand and I don’t understand in Italian as well. And what does capish mean anyway? I’ve got you covered! Learn different Italian verbs that cover different meanings of the word understand, as well as a couple great songs that include the word for understand in Italian.


There are two main ways to say Do you understand? in Italian. Often they can be used interchangeably.


Man in front of Colosseum asking with a graphic speech bubble, 'hai capito?'

The first way to say Do you understand? is Hai capito? This is the informal past (passato prossimo) form of the verb capire, which means to understand. Though it technically means Did you understand?, most often it is used to say Have you understood? or Do you understand?

Hai capito? is often used at the end of an explanation, and has a sense of finality and authority, as if you have the last word (as in, got it?)


A: Torna a casa subito dopo scuola, hai capito? Come home right after school, do you understand?
B: Ok mamma. Ok Mom.

Il ristorante si trova accanto alla chiesa, gli gnocchi fritti sono spettacolari. Dì che ti ha mandato Giuseppe, hai capito?
The restaurant is next to the church, the fried gnocchi are spectacular. Say that Giuseppe sent you, do you understand?

The pronunciation of Hai capito? is: AH-ee kah-PEE-toh?

Listen to how to pronounce Hai capito? here: 


If you are speaking to a formal acquaintance, use Ha capito?


Le vedo confuso Signore. Ha capito dov’è la fermata dell’autobus?
You look confused sir. Do you understand where the bus stop is?

The pronunciation of Ha capito? is: ah kah-PEE-toh?

Listen to how to pronounce Ha capito? here: 


If you are speaking to a group, use Avete capito?


L’esame sarà venerdì mattina. Studiate tutto il capitolo nove. Avete capito?
The exam is on Friday morning. Study chapter nine. Do you understand?

The pronunciation of Avete capito? is: ah-VEH-teh kah-PEE-toh?

Listen to how to pronounce Avete capito? here: 


A quick, easy way to say Do you understand? is simply Capito? It’s like saying Understand? or Got it? in English. It works in all situations, so you don’t have to worry about whether to use the informal, formal or plural form.


La pizzeria è sulla sinistra subito dopo il ponte, capito?
The pizzeria is on the left, immediately after the bridge, got it? 

Capito? is the 1978 hit by the group Gatti di Vicolo Miracoli, that was used as the theme song for the TV show Domenica In. Enjoy this blast from the past!


The second way to say Do you understand? in Italian is Capisci? This is the informal present form of the verb capire (to understand). 

Capisci? is less final and authoritative than Hai capito? It keeps the conversation more open for the other person to respond not just with yes or no, and to discuss the topic further. Tacked on the end of a sentence, it can be like saying understand? or can you understand? 


Capisci quello che stai dicendo?
Do you understand what I’m saying?

Sono innamorato di te, capisci?
I’m in love with you, do you understand? 

The pronunciation of Capisci? is: kah-PEE-shee?

Listen to how to pronounce Capisci? here:


If you are speaking to a formal acquaintance, use Capisce?


Capisce il mio punto di vista?
Do you understand my point of view?

The pronunciation of Capisce? is: kah-PEE-sheh?

Listen to how to pronounce Capisce? here: 


If you are speaking to a group, use Capite?


Non me la sento di andare alla partita, capite?
I don’t feel like going to the game, do you understand? 

The pronunciation of Capite? is: kah-PEE-teh?

Listen to how to pronounce Capite? here: 


There are two main ways to say I don’t understand in Italian. When in doubt about which one to use, if you are answering Hai capito? or Capisci? just use the same form in response. 


Non ho capito means I don’t understand, or more precisely I haven’t understood (the direct translation is I didn’t understand). Therefore, use it to respond to the past tense question Hai capito? (Do you understand/Have you understood?/Did you understand?)

Use non ho capito if you don’t understand something someone has said to you, like if you didn’t hear them, or if it didn’t sound right. In addition, use it if you don’t understand something that’s been planned, talked about, or explained in the past. 


Non ho capito quello che hai detto. Potresti ripetere?
I don’t understand what you said. Could you repeat it?

A: Un caffè per favore.
B: Sono 5 euro.
A: Non ho capito. Quanto?!

A: A coffee, please.
B: That’s 5 euros.
A: I don’t understand. How much?!

The pronunciation of Non ho capito is: nohn oh kah-PEE-toh

Listen to how to pronounce Non ho capito here: 


Non capisco means I don’t understand. Use it when responding to the present tense question Capisci? (Do you understand?)

Use non capisco when you don’t or can’t understand a concept, or something that is happening in the present.


Non capisco perché lei si sta arrabbiando con me.
I don’t understand why she is getting angry at me.

Non ti capisco quando parli con il cibo in bocca.
I don’t understand you when you talk with food in your mouth. 

The pronunciation of Non capisco is: nohn kah-PEE-skoh

Listen to how to pronounce Non capisco here: 


As usual, there are two main ways to say I understand in Italian. As we’ve discussed, if you are replying to either the question Hai capito? or Capisci?, use the same form in response. 


Man at desk with expression that he's understood something and a graphic speech bubble of 'ho capito!'

Ho capito means I understand, or I have understood. The direct translation is I understood, but it is commonly used to express the present tense. Use it if someone asks you Hai capito? (Do you understand/Have you understood?/Did you understand?

Use ho capito to say you understand what someone has said or told you about. You can also use it to express that you understand something that has been explained to you or planned already in the past. 


A: Signore! Non ci pensi nemmeno di saltare la fila, ha capito?
B: Sì Signora, ho capito.

A: Sir! Don’t even think about cutting the line, do you understand?
B: Yes madame, I understand.

The pronunciation of Ho capito is: oh kah-PEE-toh

Listen to how to pronounce Ho capito here: 


Capisco means I understand, and is the present tense. You can respond with it when someone asks you Capisci? (Do you understand?)

Use capisco to say you understand something going on at the moment, or you understand an idea or concept. It is often used to express empathy to the person you’re speaking with. 


Capisco perché vuole fare la sua festa nel nuovo locale. È da dieci.
I understand why he wants to have his party at the new club. It gets an A+.

A: Ciao Teresa, le mie condoglianze a tuo papà. Come stai?
B: Grazie. È un periodo molto difficile, mi sento molto triste.
A: Capisco. Mi dispiace.

A: Hello Teresa, my condolences for your Dad. How are you?
B: Thank you. It’s a very hard time, I feel very sad.
A: I understand. I’m sorry.

The pronunciation of Capisco is: kah-PEE-skoh

Listen to how to pronounce Capisco here: 

Remember, in Italian it is not necessary to include the subject, because the verb conjugation already gives it away! You can of course include the subject if you wish, it does not change the meaning of the sentence. Io capisco = Capisco = I understand.

If you would like to emphasize the subject, use it and stress it.
For example:

Io capisco, loro no.
I understand, they don’t.


Capish, capeesh, capiche, and capisce are many spellings of the same word: US slang for got it or understand. Capish is an Americanization of the Italian word capisce. Though it may bring to mind types like the Godfather or the Sopranos, it has made it into broader slang. 

Capish can be used as both an authoritative question (with only one right answer!), and a response. 

A: You’re going to call me right when you get home. Capeesh?
B: Capeesh.

A: Call me as soon as you get home. Got it?
B: Got it. 

Watch Beth Pearson use capish on the TV show This is Us:


We’ve seen that the verb capire means to understand, in the sense of to comprehend, and to grasp a concept, or to grasp the meaning of something.

Though it is not used as often, the verb comprendere has the same meaning as capire

Non comprendo le regole.
I don’t understand the rules.

However, comprendere also means to include.


Here are some Italian verbs that express other nuances of the verb to understand:

Intendersi: when understand means: To understand someone, to have an understanding with them 

Io e la mia migliore amica ci intendiamo.
My best friend and I have an understanding/My best friend and I understand each other. 


Immaginare: when understand means: To have the impression that

Immagino che il presidente non si ricandidi.
I understand that the president is not going to run again.


Credere, Immaginare: when understand means: To believe 

Credo che quella gelateria sia buona, lo dicono in tanti.
I understand that ice cream place is good, a lot of people say so.


Sottintendere, Assumere: when understand means: To assume it’s agreed upon

In Italia è sottinteso che non si beve il latte a cena.
In Italy it is understood that you don’t drink milk with dinner.


This 2021 hit by the Italian singer/songwriter/rapper Madame with rapper Sfera Ebbasta was stuck in my head for many happy months. Listen for the refrain Tu mi hai capito (You understood me) and Tu l’hai capito (You understood it).