I am not sure but I find "I see" or "I understand" is little bit formal. I am not sure close friends say each other "I see" a lot. I could be wrong, though. It sounds more like a doctor can say it when you talk about your pains.

Here is my scenario

A: Why did you get to class late today?

B: Well, my phone was out of charge (while I was sleeping). So it didn't go off and I missed the train.

C: I see, ok, right or ?

(Could you please rephrase B's the first sentence because I am no sure it is colloquial)

  • "I see" can be formal, as far as I'm concerned. As a replacement, I'd say "I get it."; as Gru says in Despicable me. Though this I sense to be more colloquial. – M.A.R. Jan 31 '15 at 19:13
  • "My phone ran out of charge" is not quite natural, but is very understandable. "My phone died." could mean "My phone ran out of charge." or "My phone broke down, and I need to replace it." – Jasper Jan 31 '15 at 20:31

"I see." is informal, and is often used by friends talking to each other.

The original poster is correct that "I understand" is more formal than "I see", and that both "I understand" and "I see" are often used by doctors who are listening to patients.

If you are not being sarcastic, you could say:

  • "I understand." (from the original post.)
  • "I've done that."
  • "Bummer!" (Possibly followed by "I hate it when that happens." or "Don't you hate it when that happens?")

The following options might be interpreted as being sarcastic:

  • "Ok." (from the original post)
  • "I see." (from the original post)
  • "Right." (from the original post)
  • "I get it." (from MARamezani's comment)

"I grok" would not be appropriate for your example. "Grokking" is even less formal than "seeing", and describes a profound level of understanding.

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