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Does the word realize always include the process of becoming cognizant of the matter at hand?

e.g. I realize that the iPhone is a popular device.

Does this mean the speaker become cognizant of this fact upon the statement? Or does he means: I 'know' that ...

I have this question because I recently came across the following:

I realize that the iPhone is a popular device but its technical inferiority comparing to others is apparent.

Why does the speaker uses realize instead of be aware, know, understand?

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The verb realize is used to describe the breadth of understanding, not the process of understanding. i.e. "I realize that..." is equivalent to saying "I am well aware that..." or "I completely understand that...".

If the speaker had wanted to indicate a sudden onset of understanding, the sentence would read "I suddenly realize that..." or "I have just realized that...".

From dictionary.reference.com (with some definitions removed for clarity):

re·al·ize /ˈriəˌlaɪz/ -ized, -iz·ing

  1. to grasp or understand clearly
  2. to make real; give reality to (a hope, fear, plan, etc.)
  3. to bring vividly to the mind
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  • Which in this case, we wait for the but when we hear I realise
    – mplungjan
    Mar 5 '11 at 21:31
  • "The verb realize is used to describe the breadth of understanding, not the process of understanding." — you might consider adding "is used in this sentence to...", since you agree that it can be used for the inception of a new thought elsewhere, as you have shown in "she suddenly realized that...". (Note that this is also possible without a special adverb: "when the knave of hearts was played, she realized her plan would't work".) Mar 6 '11 at 1:14
  • @Cerberus: I don't think that is true. In both examples, another word is used to indicate process: "Suddenly" in the first case and "when" in the second. In both cases, "realize" simply describes the amount of understanding. Consider the same phrase with several different verbs: "she suddenly [realized/understood/saw/knew] that...".
    – e.James
    Mar 6 '11 at 8:54

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