Meaning of EXPLAIN in English



1. to explain something

2. what you say when you are going to explain something

3. to explain something in a simpler way

4. the words you write or say to explain something


explain what you are thinking or feeling : ↑ EXPRESS

information about how to use something or what to do : ↑ INSTRUCTIONS

see also






1. to explain something

▷ explain /ɪkˈspleɪn/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to give someone the information they need to understand something :

▪ It’s not so complicated - let me explain.

▪ We listened carefully while Pam explained the process.

▪ Let me show you - it’s too difficult to explain.

explain something to somebody

▪ If you don’t get the joke, I’ll explain it to you later.

▪ Could you explain the rules of the game to me, please?

explain how/what/why etc

▪ Can you explain what the poem means?

▪ The doctor explained how the clinic operates.

▷ tell /tel/ [transitive verb] especially spoken

to explain to someone how something works or how to do something :

tell somebody how/what/why etc

▪ Can you tell me how to log on to the Internet?

▪ The leaflet tells you what to do if you get malaria.

▷ say what/why/where etc /ˈseɪ wɒtǁ-wɑːt/ [verb phrase] spoken

to explain the reasons for something or give detailed information about something :

▪ He didn’t say where he was going or who he was going with.

▪ Did Caroline say why she needed the tape recorder?

▷ show /ʃəʊ/ [transitive verb]

to explain to someone how to do something by doing it while they watch you :

▪ ‘How do you change the speed of the drill?’ ‘Let me show you.’

show somebody something

▪ I’ll show you an easier way to get down from there.

show somebody how to do something

▪ Can you show me how to use your camera?

show somebody what to do

▪ If you show him what to do, I’m sure he’ll do a good job.

▷ demonstrate /ˈdemənstreɪt/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to show someone how to do something by doing it while they watch you, especially when it is your job to show people how to do things :

▪ The ski instructor began by demonstrating the correct way to turn.

▪ If you still don’t understand, Marcia will be happy to demonstrate.

demonstrate how

▪ A trainer came in to demonstrate how the new computer system worked.

▷ go through /ˈgəʊ θruː/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to explain all the details about something in the right order, to help someone understand it :

▪ I’ll go through the instructions once more in case you missed anything.

▪ If you stay after class, I’ll go through the theory with you again.

▷ throw/shed light on /ˌθrəʊ, ˌʃed ˈlaɪt ɒn/ [verb phrase] written

to provide new information which makes something easier to understand, especially something which has been studied, but which is still not well understood :

▪ These discoveries may shed light on the origins of the universe.

▪ Scientists working in the Gobi desert have thrown new light on the life of dinosaurs.

▷ set out /ˌset ˈaʊt/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to explain facts, arguments, reasons etc by stating them clearly and in a carefully planned order :

set out something

▪ She set out the reasons for her resignation in a confidential letter to her boss.

▪ The Republicans’ goals for the year are clearly set out in the party platform.

set something out

▪ The facts, as you have set them out, seem convincing enough.

2. what you say when you are going to explain something

▷ (you) see /(jʊ) ˈsiː/ spoken

say this when you are explaining something to someone, and you want to check that they are listening and that they understand you :

▪ This fits on here, see, where the arrow is.

▪ Simon’s car broke down, you see, and neither of us knew how to fix it.

▷ I mean /aɪ ˈmiːn/ spoken

say this when you are explaining something you have said or giving an example of something :

▪ Ted seems kind of lazy. I mean, he never offers to help and he just lies in front of the TV.

what I mean (to say) is

▪ I’m afraid I can’t help you. What I mean is that I’m not a detective, and I don’t solve crimes.

▷ in other words /ɪn ˌʌðəʳ ˈwɜːʳdz/

use this when you are saying something in a different way in order to explain it more clearly :

▪ What we need is a more sustainable transport system, in other words, more buses and trains, and fewer cars.

▪ This is supposed to be a democracy - in other words, one person one vote.

▷ the thing is /ðə ˈθɪŋ ɪz/ spoken

use this when you are explaining a problem or the reason for something :

▪ I really don’t want to leave yet. The thing is, I have an appointment in 15 minutes.

▪ I do have a computer, but the thing is, it’s really old and I can’t use it for email.

▷ that is /ˈðæt ɪz/

use this to explain the meaning of the previous word or phrase by giving more information about it :

▪ The fare is reduced for children, that is, anyone under 15 years old.

▪ All documents are printed in the two official languages - that is, English and French.

▷ let me explain /ˌlet miː ɪkˈspleɪn/ spoken

say this when you want to explain something to someone because you think they have not understood :

▪ I can see you’re getting confused. Let me explain.

▪ I know the plan seems a little crazy at first, but it’s really not. Let me explain.

▷ to put it another way /tə ˌpʊt ɪt əˈnʌðəʳ ˌweɪ/

used when you have explained something in one way and you are going to try to make it clearer by explaining it in a different way :

▪ Money makes money. To put it another way, the more you invest, the greater your potential profit will be.

▪ The problem demands a global solution. To put it another way, local regulations will have very little effect.

▷ put it like this/put it this way /ˌpʊt ɪt laɪk ˈðɪs, ˌpʊt ɪt ˈðɪs weɪ/ spoken

say this when someone is not sure what you mean and you are going to try to explain in a way that will help them to understand, especially by saying something humorous or direct :

▪ ‘Does he get many dates?’ ‘Put it like this - you don’t have to feel sorry for him.’

▪ Put it this way, honey - what the boss doesn’t know isn’t going to bother him.

▷ let me rephrase that /ˌlet miː riːˈfreɪz ðæt/ spoken

used when you are going to use different words to say something again, because you have just said it in an unsuitable way and it may not have been understood correctly :

▪ I’m sorry, let me rephrase that. That wasn’t what I meant to say at all.

▪ Most of the people there were incredibly old. Let me rephrase that - we were the youngest couple there.

3. to explain something in a simpler way

▷ simplify /ˈsɪmplɪfaɪ, ˈsɪmpləfaɪ/ [transitive verb]

to explain something difficult in simple language so that it is easier to understand :

▪ We have done everything we can to simplify the procedure.

▪ She took a complex topic and simplified it in a way that we could all understand.

▷ demystify /ˌdiːˈmɪstɪfaɪ, ˌdiːˈmɪstəfaɪ/ [transitive verb]

to give a simple, clear explanation of an important but difficult subject so that it is easier for ordinary people to understand :

▪ This new book demystifies some of the computer language currently in use.

▪ The course seeks to demystify the loan application process for people buying a home for the first time.

▷ in plain English /ɪn pleɪn ˈɪŋglɪʃ/ [adverb]

if you explain something or tell someone something in plain English, you explain it simply and clearly, without using difficult words or technical language :

▪ I just wish someone would explain to me in plain English what is wrong with my computer.

▪ It says ‘the children lack the ability to mobilize self and commit’ - what does that mean in plain English?

4. the words you write or say to explain something

▷ explanation /ˌekspləˈneɪʃ ə n/ [countable noun]

something that you say or write in order to make something clearer or to explain why something happened :

▪ Each diagram is followed by a simple explanation.

explanation for

▪ What was their explanation for their decision?

explanation of

▪ Our guide gave us a detailed explanation of the system of government.

give/offer (somebody) an explanation

▪ Can you give us a quick explanation of how it works?

▪ She offered no explanation as to why she had left so suddenly.

▷ instructions /ɪnˈstrʌkʃ ə nz/ [plural noun]

written or spoken information that explains exactly how to do something :

▪ Read the instructions carefully before using the machine.

▪ The cooking instructions are on the back of the box.

give (somebody) instructions

▪ They gave us detailed instructions explaining how to get to their house.

follow instructions

do what they tell you

▪ if you had followed my instructions, none of this would have happened.

▷ account /əˈkaʊnt/ [countable noun]

a detailed description of a process which also explains how it happens and what makes it possible :

account of

▪ So far no linguist has given us a satisfactory account of how children learn language.

▪ Her account of the events of that day was wildly different from the first witness’s.

Longman Activator English vocab.      Английский словарь Longman активатор .