Suppose I ask a question and someone gives me an answer. I partially understand it but not completely. Is there an idiom to say that you have understood something partially/ not completely?

I can say "I haven't got a firm grasp of it (the subject being discussed)", but I vaguely remember an idiom/expression that was in the form of "I still ...." and didn't have a negative word like not. Is there any other idiom or idiomatic expression to say that?

3 Answers 3


I am (still) processing it.

I am (still) digesting it.

when you take the necessary time to understand it.

I am getting the picture.

when you start understanding it.

I am not (quite) following you.

I am not (really) following you.

when you don't understand them partially or completely.

If you want to make the sentence positive, you could use find it hard to, have difficulty with/in, struggle to instead.


Wrap (one's) head around (something)

To comprehend something that one considers challenging, confusing, or a foreign concept.

Kate is willing to pay full price for an expensive handbag, but I just can't wrap my head around that.

Sam tries to wrap her head around snow and freezing temperatures, but she's always lived in Florida, so real winter is not something she has experienced.

[The Free Dictionary]

Another idiomatic expression for this is

grapple with something

To try to deal with or understand a difficult problem or subject:

Today, many Americans are still grappling with the issue of race.

[Cambridge Dictionary]


If by 'idiom' you mean a saying or analogy, I can't really think of any that expressly mean "partial understanding". One possible related idiom is that something is "sinking in slowly", which means you are in a process of slowly understanding something (eg "I don't fully understand it yet, but it is sinking in slowly".)

If you mean common, idiomatic ways of expressing it, then "partially understood" is perfectly fine. You could also say that you "almost understood" if you wanted to convey that you understood the greatest part of it but maybe need to clarify one or two points.

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