Can someone please explain to me what grammar role the verb 'understand' plays in the sentence below? What does it mean? I get the parallel verbs 'hate', 'have never heard of', 'dismiss' and 'favor'. But what does 'understand' mean in the sentence?

"They hate the Chicago School, have never heard of the Austrian School, dismiss spontaneous order, and favor bossing people around—for their own good, understand."

source: https://reason.com/archives/2018/02/11/the-applied-theory-of-bossing

  • It implies that 'they' would say ''You must understand that we're only bossing people around for their own good'. Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


It's grammatically either an imperative "understand this!", or elliptic for "you understand". Either way it is notionally addressed to the reader.

Its function is really a sentence adverb, meaning something like "The previous phrase is to be taken ironically". The implication is something like "You and I understand, of course, that they say they like to boss people around for those people's own good, but we know that's not really true". It's inviting the reader to get into collusion with the writer in judgment of "them", without actually saying so.

  • Yes, but I would just point out that when you say it means something like The previous phrase is to be taken ironically, that's really only when it's elliptic for "you understand". When it's an imperative "understand this!", the meaning is more like The previous phrase is to be taken seriously! As in You got that? Do you read me? Okay? Is that clear? Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 14:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.