Now the teacher plays the tapes or reads the text again, pausing after every sentence to check the students understand.

Is ‘understand’ a noun in the sentence above?

  • Are you sure you meant "understand", not "understanding"/ – BillJ May 12 '19 at 8:40

No, it's not a noun.

The normal wording of that sentence would be, "... pausing after every sentence to check that the students understand." Sometimes people leave out the word "that" from dependent clauses like this.

For example:

"The teacher knew that her students understood the assignment."

is equivalent to

"The teacher knew her students understood the assignment."

In the particular case quoted in your question, I don't think it sounds exactly proper, although it's probably acceptable. But even without the word "that", "understand" is still a verb with "students" as its subject.

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  • ...pausing after every sentence to check that the students understand. Why not use ‘if’ instead of ‘that’ here? – Y. zeng May 12 '19 at 5:29
  • @Y. zeng , yes, I didn't think of it, but "... pausing after every sentence to check if the students understand." probably sounds slightly better. – Lorel C. May 12 '19 at 5:39
  • So, that is to say if can be omitted in the sentence I wrote first. But I have never seen any sentence that omitted ‘if’ before. – Y. zeng May 12 '19 at 5:42
  • Why is ‘if’ the same as ‘whether’? – Y. zeng May 12 '19 at 6:13
  • @Y.zeng If you use "if" instead of "that", you change the grammar and the meaning. In the latter case, "that" is omissible, but in interrogatives with "if" it is not. – BillJ May 12 '19 at 6:28

The word “understand” is a verb, referring to the action of comprehending. As such, the sentence as is is incorrect. However, it can be easily rectified by adding the letters “ing” to the end. The word “understanding” in this context would indeed be a noun, referring to the state of the students’ comprehension.

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  • Yes: it could be a typo where the intended word is the noun "understanding". But as written by the OP, "(that) the students understand" is a declarative content clause where "that" is omissible. – BillJ May 12 '19 at 7:51

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