I frequently see English learners using the verb explain incorrectly.
Teacher, can you
explain me. . .?
explain youwhat I mean . . .
Explain means make something clear or easy to understand (MW), and that’s what I want to do in this lesson. I use colors and example sentences to help you understand exactly how to use the verb explain.
The verb explain is not followed by object pronoun. It can’t be followed by a pronoun like me, him, her, you or us that is the object of the verb, or the pronoun that receives the action of the verb. That’s why “Can you explain me …?” is wrong.
The verb explain has a very specific sentence pattern. Remember this when you want to use explain in a sentence.
You explain something TO someone.
You explain TO someone something.
I explained the problem to my friends.
Can you please explain the difference between borrow and lend?
The teacher explained the game to the children.
I understand now. She explained it to me very clearly.
If you are not explaining anything to anyone, then you can useexplain by itself.
Something could also be a clause with a wh- question word.
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.
Something could also be a clause with 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 can be left out of the sentence.
Now you know how to use the verb explain in an English sentence!