When I was preparing for my FCE exam I came across a task which I cannot really fully understand. The task was the word transformation. I got it all right, except only one. The sentence was:

Then again, celebrities often do seem to lead such interesting lives that it is perhaps ____(understand) that we want to find out more about them

So I put 'understood' here, but it turned out that 'understandable' was a correct answer. I cannot understand why. For example it's correct to say:

It was understood that taxes would increase dramatically

Here we have a passive form of the verb understand, but probably this sentence is correct due to the past simple?

Well, we can say:

It is done

Here we have the passive form of the present, but this sentence is still correct. In my opinion, we have to use 'able' adjective instead of the passive form, when we can substitute the verb with an adjective. Is it so? Am I missing something?

2 Answers 2


Understood and understandable should not be confused as they mean different things.

According to The Free Dictionary,


  1. Capable of being understood: an understandable sentence.

  2. Expected or accepted under the circumstances: Their anger is understandable, given what happened.

whereas, the same Free Dictionary, defines:


  1. Agreed on; assumed: the understood conditions of troop withdrawal.

  2. Not expressed in writing; implied: the understood provisos of a custody agreement.

This said, the difference between understood and understandable is that understood is of things which have been comprehended while understandable is capable of being understood; comprehensible.


I think this question has more to do with meaning/context than tense agreement.

It is understood is used to convey something that is implied:

Whenever my boss slams the door on me, he doesn't have to say that he disapproves of my work. It is understood.

It is understandable is used to convey something that is debatable or disputable:

My boss is upset that I took two hours for lunch. It is understandable.

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