We are surrounded by texts all the time and we read them at all times of the day, but much is said about understanding and interpreting texts that are synonymous and have no differences, which raises several doubts, whether in school or professional contexts, in contexts of tests and selective processes.
According to what we have learned in school, the reading process has its steps for a text to be assimilated. Understanding and interpretation are steps in this process and distinguish themselves as to their goals.
Understanding is the act of inferring about what has been read, of understanding the content and main and thematic ideas of what is being read. When a person reads a text, it first decodes those sets of letters that are forming it, then understands what the junction of those letters form and the meaning they acquire in that context, that is, they recognize the text from the junction of the words and sentences that create the context. This is a purely objective analysis.
In order to understand, it is necessary to know the meanings of words, to understand what they mean by coming together in sentences, in a way that captures all linguistic levels: morphological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic (the contextual level). It is also necessary to have prior knowledge about the topics covered in order to capture the intended meaning.
The interpretation depends on the understanding to occur, since it is a level beyond it, it is the level that the interlocutor captures the main of the text and manages to elaborate a critique on that, to make judgments and questionings, drawing conclusions about what was understood. In this process, the knowledge gained from understanding is broadened by joining them with the world knowledge you already have. It is therefore a subjective analysis, it can vary according to the person and the possible deductions.
The interpretation is still idiosyncratic and depends on this prior knowledge to occur, and ends up generating several possibilities for interpretation, since to occur, mix with previous knowledge, which may be different for each person.
To interpret a text is to go beyond comprehension, besides capturing what was said, but how it was said and what was the intention of who said or wrote something. Within this process it is necessary to have reasoning ability, observation, historical and grammatical knowledge of cohesion, coherence, synonyms, antonyms, polisemias, among other characteristics that may give rise to errors of interpretation.
It is important to understand the differences in the meaning of these two terms in order not to be confused anymore. Understanding what each means, it becomes easier to carry out any evidence that appears ahead.