The verb explain is used when we would like make something clear or easy to understand, by describing or giving information about it (para aclarar, explicar o exponer algo).

It is used with a direct object (objeto directo), or with a direct object and a prepositional phrase with to.

A common mistake is to say “please explain me it”. You will be understood but you have made a mistake. The error is in using an indirect object pronoun (me) directly after the verb “explain”.

Consider these examples.

  1. Mr. Rajoy explained the problem to me.

Check the structure: subject = Mr. Rajoy, verb = explained, direct object = the problem and to “me” = indirect object.

If you had said (si hubiera dicho) “Mr. Rajoy explained me the problem”, you would be understood, but you have made a mistake.

  1. I explained the problem to him (se lo explique…). Here we have subject, verb, direct object and indirect object.
  1. Can you explain the reasons to me?

Not: Can you explain me the reasons?

  1. We explained the situation to the team.

Not: We explained the team the situation.

We don’t use explain to mean ‘describe’. Describe means ‘say or write what someone or something is like’. If we explain something, we give a reason for it or say how it works:

To describe myself, I am very poor and a farm worker. This sentence is correct.

This is wrong: To explain myself, I am very poor….

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