Using the verb ‘explain’ like a bawse

Welcome back to IELTS PLUS!

In today’s blog, I will try to break down how to use the word ‘explain’ correctly. Once you are done going through this blogpost, I bet you will be able use the verb ‘explain’ like a bawse (yes, a bawse, not a boss).

First, let’s take a look at the meaning of explain:

Explain is an in(transitive) verb that means ‘to tell someone about something in a way that makes it easy to understand’.

Now, let’s take a look at the ways explain is used (correctly)!

First form:

Explain (something)(to somebody)

This is true when we have two objects in a sentence- both direct and indirect ones (object pronouns)

So, saying:

I explained her my problem ( is incorrect).
The correct way to say this is:
I explained my problem to her (the direct object comes before the indirect object)
First, I’ll explain the rules of the game.
It was difficult to explain the problem to beginners.

Second form:

Explain to somebody something

In this case, the direct object is usually a WH-question clause

If object pronouns (I, you, he, she and etc.) come after explain, ensure you have the preposition TO before them

I explained to Sasha how to solve the problem
Can you explain to me how to turn this iPhone on? (NOT: Can you explain me)
He explained to us how to make a pancake.
He tried to explain how to play cricket to me, but I still don’t understand.
Can you please explain what “a clause” is?
My mom explained to us how to use the washing machine.
I will try to explain when to use the present perfect.

Third form:

Explain (to somebody) that clause

In this case, the direct object starts with the good old THAT

They explained that they were getting a divorce.
I explained to everyone that I will check my email while I’m on vacation.
I explained to him he needed to work harder (that is dropped here)

Fourth form:

Explain (just ‘explain’)

In this form, explain is used with neither an object pronoun nor a direct object

“I’ll be happy to explain,” he added helpfully.
It was hard for me to explain.

More examples for ya:

The government has to explain its plans (direct object) to the public (indirect object or) (first form)
The prime minster explained his position (direct object) to Cabinet member (indirect object) (first form)
She explained to them what to do in an emergency. (second form)
He explained who each person in the photo was. (second form)
Can you explain how the e-mail system works? (second form)
He explained to me that he wanted to quit his job (third form)

So, having gone through this blog, I hope you guys will take notice the next you use the verb ‘explain’. I hope you guys were able to glean something useful from today’s blog. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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