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Does this expression mean to pretend?

Because the original context I saw goes as below:

"The manager told me to keep an eye on that cranky passenger, and I made believe that I understand."

If it means to pretend to understand,

then why isn't it phrased as " .......and I made him(the manager) believe that I understand."

Does it necessarily have to go as how it does originally?

Or can it be phrased like the one I re-phrased?
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I made believe = I pretended [no objects necessary]

(You probably want understood in your original sentence.)
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I made believe that I understood. = I pretended that I understood. = I gave the impression (to others) that I understood.

In this case you can say I made the manager believe that I understood.

But in many cases where you say I made believe, you merely fantasized something to yourself. You can make believe even if you are alone.

CJ
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Comments  
CalifJim You can make believe even if you are alone. CJ
Can you type some exampling sentences?

Is it like to self-deceive oneself?

Like "I didn't totally get this, but I made believe to myself"?
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CalifJim You can make believe even if you are alone. CJ
Can you type some exampling sentences?

Is it like to self-deceive oneself?

Like "I didn't totally get this, but I made believe to myself"?