I want to say

by reading 'name of the book', I better understand the concept of '...'

is this correct as far as grammar is concerned?

  • 2
    Yes it is. But I'd recommend you stick with normal convention and put the adverb after the verb (and its complement). E.g. "I understand the concept of x better".
    – JMB
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 9:53

4 Answers 4


It's incorrect to place an adverb between the verb it modifies and the same verb's direct object. Here, better is the adverb, understand is the verb, and the concept is the direct object. You can place the adverb before or after the verb-object phrase (e.g. "better understand the concept" or "understand the concept better"), but not within it (e.g. "understand better the concept").

Note that some people do this anyway, particularly in artistic or casual communication. In a more formal setting, it might be considered at least pretentious, if not completely ungrammatical.


It is grammatically correct to use either, however to me, the construction "better understand" does sound much more natural to me.

I know this is a purely subjective answer, but I can't for the life of me think why, it is just my (British) English native intuition.

Either way, your options are

"Help me understand X better"


"Help me better understand X"


"help me understand better X"


In my view, both are grammatically correct, but "I better understand" may be much more suitable for stylistic reasons.


Google Ngrams shows that 'better understand' has become much more common than 'understand better' in the last 50 years. Admittedly, this Ngram search misses instances of 'understand X better', but even so, the trend is very clear.

  • 1
    I was going to post this, but then I realised that since "understand X better" is really the rival to "better understand X" it doesn't really tell you all that much. Tried a wildcard search but no luck getting it to work. Don't know if it's possible to do regex with Ngrams :/
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 10:07

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